Strength | Courage | Beauty

Shannon Reed

44% of rape victims are under the age of 18
80% are under the age of 30
Every 107 seconds another American is sexually assaulted
68% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police
98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail or prison
47% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance

During the summer of 2014, a young woman was searching for a photographer to take a few pictures of her and her friends in an effort to sort of launch out of a dark place they all shared in common: They'd each been raped.

We met for coffee and chatted a bit about hopes and expected outcomes of the project and it quickly evolved into a much broader vision which led me to enlist the time and talent of my beautiful friend and choreographer, Toby Bertch Jackson. We decided that using dance as an expression of the experience and path to healing would be a wonderful platform - and so it went. I can say that few things have hit me in the gut like this project; I admire these women for their strength and bravery and feel incredibly honored to have played a wee part in the process of their moving forward.

At the time I was working on this project, my own life began to suddenly splinter off into a bunch of directions; my time and energy were spread thin. As I've spent needed time in my own realm the project languished but, a couple of days ago, I came across the pictures I'd edited a year ago and felt that, at this one year anniversary, it was time to share them with the girls.

I don't know why I waited so long, but I do believe that things happen for a reason. I think we all needed time to move on from the project - to let more of life happen - to set this aside and not marinate in it. This is my take, of course, but I'm hopeful that each of them found some benefit in the waiting and now that they have the images, I see on Facebook that they are coming out about their experience - sharing it publicly for the first time and I am so incredibly proud of them.

Violence against women has got to stop. Silence around this issue has got to stop. The conditioning around shame has got to stop. I have no affiliation with this organization, but it appears to have a lot of helpful information - I pray that you never need it.