Sexual assault victims break silence and stereotypes

Project Unbreakable helps sexual assualt victims take the power back from “the words that were once used against them.”


Fernando Alfonso III

Internet Culture

Published Mar 15, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 8:00 pm CDT

By now you’ve all seen the photos of people holding up handmade signs to share their stories of financial or physical distress.

But now there’s a startling new twist on the trend: victims of sexual abuse holding signs with quotes from their attackers written on them.

Over the last five months, Project Unbreakable has been an advocate for victims of sexual assault and rape. Project creator Grace Brown has encouraged victims to photograph themselves holding signs with quotes from their attackers as a way take the power back from “the words that were once used against them,” as she wrote on the project’s website.

“It’s been incredible,” Brown told The Guardian. “People sharing their experiences, sometimes for the first time. It’s a way for them to let go of their story, I guess.”

The Project Unbreakable Tumblr has collected more than 300 photos. One of the sites most powerful photos was taken on Feb. 6 by Brown herself. It features a man holding a sign that reads, “Don’t worry boys are supposed to like this.” That photo has since collected more than 5,000 notes.

“He was the first male I’ve ever gotten to photograph for this project; all the other men have been submissions. Men are slowly stepping forward for this. People are getting braver – showing their faces more, sharing more, and simply even participating,” Brown wrote. “I received piles of emails a day. It’s been incredible to watch this project grow in the media, but that’s nothing in comparison to watching people grow from this project.”

Photo from Project Unbreakable

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*First Published: Mar 15, 2012, 2:05 pm CDT