Monday, April 16, 2012

Empowerment Project--"This is Me"

This post is reprinted from Carrie Cuinn's blog with her permission (edited slightly for venue).

This Is Me (a post about rape, silence, and standing up)

Warning: This post is personal, sad, possibly triggering, and true. If you don’t want to know any more, stop reading now. There’s one picture past the jump, safe for work.

A few months ago I allowed Project Unbreakable to post a picture of me. If you’re not familiar with the site, it’s a tumblr of photographs, some taken by the site’s organizer, Grace. Most are self-portraits like mine. All of us, all of the people (men and women) on the site, are holding up signs. What each of us has written are the words that were said to us by the person who attacked us.

The point is to show that we are not broken by our experiences. It’s also to show, in another context, the words that the people who spoke them thought were so logical, so natural. When you look through the photos you see horrible, awful things that were said to people in a position of powerlessness, and you realize two things:
  1. The people who victimize others often think they are completely justified in doing so.
  2. We don’t forget. Not the words, not the actions, not the way it made us feel. Not ever.
It took me 20 years to finally finish putting myself back together from this thing that happened to me when I was 16. Twenty years of my life, colored and affected and twisted around by this. I am better now, and happy, and loved, and while I know that most people’s reaction is to say that they’re sorry, I’m ok. Thank you, in advance, for your concern. It took me a long time to be able to see it as caring, when it used to feel like pity (and so I didn’t tell people). Now I can see that what happened to me was sad, and it’s natural for other people to feel something when they think about it, and it doesn’t mean that I am not strong, or that I am not well, or that you’ll all look at me like I’m somebody’s lost puppy.

When this image appeared on the Unbreakable site, only one of my friends knew about it. I didn’t do it so that other people would know it was me. I wanted to be just another nameless person, standing up, letting people know that it’s ok to say something. (You should say something. You don’t have to live with this kind of secret, even though, far too often, we do.) The people who commented on and re-blogged that post were kind. I was nervous before it went up, though my friend told me I was a badass for doing it (she says that kind of thing to me a lot; we all need those kind of friends). I didn’t actually find out it was live until a few days later, and it felt like breathing out again. It was done, it was there, and nothing terrible happened because of it. I’d told the Internet my big secret, and everything was fine.

I decided to say something here, to put my name on that face, on that post, because another friend told me today that she wished she knew someone who’d spoken out, when she was younger, because then maybe she would have too. In that case, how can I not?

I know that I’m risking being known for this instead of my writing. I know that I’m risking being noticed by Internet trolls. But if one person sees this and says something they were afraid to say, then it’s worth it.

Project Unbreakable
Please, if you have something to say – tell someone. Don’t let someone else’s actions eat up any more of your life. You deserve a lot better than that, no matter what anyone else has said.


I related to this post on so many levels, and agree with every word.  I think that the more people speak out, especially when it's most difficult, the more strength and voice others find in themselves.  Thanks so much for letting me share this, here, Carrie!


  1. I think it is incredibly brave when victims of sexual abuse speak out. The secret can be so damaging. It takes an extaordinary person to speak out and share the experience with others. So many individuals are helped by another persons courage. Thanks for sharing Alina.

    1. I absolutely think more people are helped than we'll ever know. Thanks for your comment, Michelle!


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