Trigger Warning: This essay includes discussion of rape and its aftermath.
Story and photographs featured on CNN and NPR
Photographs featured at the National Geographic Storytelling Summit
Photographs awarded Visa d'or - Daily Press at Visa Pour I'image
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. 1 out of every 6 American women and 1 out of 33 American men have been victims of rape.
These photographs reflect my journey of surviving life after trauma.
To my dear self,
I want you to know that something terrible will happen to you. Someone will take something from you that is
not theirs to take. You will examine every word and action leading up to the incident, wondering how you
could've changed your fate. You will choose to blame yourself for many things. There will be many loses.
There will be many regrets.
To ease the pain, you consider how to move on. Maybe you should sweep this under the rug.
You will remember that you've been in this exact circumstance in the past. This time around, you won't stay
silent. Not ever, not again. You will decide to speak loud and true. I am sorry to say that people will disappoint
you, and this will break your heart. The trauma that will follow will be much more painful and unbearable. You
will be unprepared. You will shatter. You will break. There will be facets of the experience that will continue to
haunt you to this day.
The fallout will hurt, and continue to hurt. But you will never regret living honestly. In fact, you will find it so
refreshing that there will be no other way.
Amid the pain, I want you to know that you will learn something important: You can and will rebuild. You will
love every piece you have salvaged, every piece you have improved and every piece you have fortified with
steel. You will never regret using your voice. You will learn to love this new you.
Sadly, the ripples of trauma do not end — they ebb and flow. Some days will be easier and some days will be
harder. On the difficult days like today, you will read this letter, look at these photographs and remember what
you have survived. You have done it before and you will do it again.