Jean’s Two Year Survivor-versary

I decided not to be silent with my story, because the pain I felt could empower another.  Art for me has always been a coping mechanism, and I hope you can share in my pain, and my triumph today. I am forever grateful for PAVE, and excited to see the lives I can change with them by my side.

Trigger Warning: *sexual assault *eating disorders *suicide

Two years ago today, a high school junior named Jean was sexually assaulted and she felt powerless. She took her power back and used a photo project to help her heal on this two year “survivor-versary”.

Below is a series of photographs that depict my two year life journey. Two years ago, my power was stolen when I was sexually assaulted by a boy I was dating at the time. The pain from the assault was painful, but the aftermath left me begging for it all to end. The 3 painful weeks before I reported it, I felt numb and lifeless, but what was in store was even worse. After I reported, I was blamed by the police, and made to feel as if I was the criminal.

To make matters worse I was tormented at school for reporting and not protected from my perpetrator. I was forced to encounter him every day. I suffered from panic attacks, a eating disorder, and self harm addiction as a mechanism to attempt to control my pain. I had also attempted to take my own life several times. Even a year after my assault, the tormenting continued. A student at school had threatened my life and I had been threatened to be “raped” again. I felt unsafe and terrified. The school had referred to everything as a “misunderstanding” and failed to protect me and meet my needs. My life felt hopeless and my happiness had vanished.

Everything changed, when one day I felt power within, and knew something had to change. I researched an organization and was connected with a survivor named Delaney Henderson, who also connected me with her organization PAVE, and the founder Angela Rose. Together they fought for me endlessly and I was able leave my school and graduate. For the first time, in years I felt loved and was able to find my purpose. I decided not to be silent with my story, because the pain I felt could empower another. The support and friendship I have been given by Delaney and Angela, and other survivors I have been connected with, has been major stepping stones to my healing process. I still struggle but, to have other survivors understand my pain and struggles has allowed me to take my life back.

Two years later, I have decided to take the power that was taken from me back and share my story through photography. Art for me has always been a coping mechanism, and I hope you can share in my pain, and my triumph today. I am forever grateful for PAVE, and excited to see the lives I can change with them by my side. The pain I felt was immense but, the power we can form together is unbreakable.

Stay Strong. Love always, Jean xoxo 

Photo Credit: Delaney Henderson, Jenna Labbadia & Selena Baumgardner

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