"Shh," he'd say. "You don't want to wake the maid up, do you? Should we play our games now?" And with those gentle, loving words, he'd guide my tiny 5-year-old hand into his pants, every day.
Unfortunate, you'd say, but the fact remains that this isn't a story you haven't heard before. Kids, women, men, trans-people, we've all been abused. And we've all heard unforgettable words from our abuser.
Project Unbreakable is an online platform where sexual abuse survivors tell their tales through the eyes of the perpetrator. They are photographed holding up clean, white-boards that contain shocking quotes penned by them and voiced by their abuser before, during or after the abuse.
Started by Grace Brown, a young activist, in 2011 the project has now gained momentum through the social media site Tumblr.com.
Brown started out photographing these striking people holding up the posters on which their attackers were quoted. Soon, her novel project gained momentum and people started sending her requests to be photographed or sent in photographs of themselves, with their story.
The only two clauses that are to be followed to feature in this series is that the line must be within quotes and it must be anonymous.
Project Unbreakable makes commendable effort in debunking the rape-myth. No, she's not asking for it. And no does indeed, mean no.
In today's India, we're constantly trying to think of ways to curb sexual violence. What could be better than to bring the abusers face to face with themselves? What better than to let the victims voice their anguish and gain support from others like them?
Project Unbreakable's Facebook page is one such space where the effectiveness of this programme is for all to see. Each entry is valued and supported by comments from all over the globe.
Some of the comments on the images:
Balázs Kiss: "This project scares me because it opened my eyes. I feel disgusted and apologetic only because I am a man too. I have no words to describe how proud I am of all these brave girls and boys. I learned something important today."
Anna Wessel: "Thank you for your strength! It shows us that you cannot be broken by anyone!"
Rachael Stanic: "As someone who's heading into law enforcement, I'm so sorry on behalf of everyone who treated you this way. We are working to improve the treatment of sexual assault cases by the police services here in Australia, but we still have a long way to go. Best wishes for your recovery."
Christina Llanes: "You are brave! He couldn't be more wrong - it is rape if you said no, pure and simple. His feelings of arousal are completely irrelevant. What he did is not ambiguous or up for interpretation: rape is an inherently violent act. He is a manipulative coward for blaming you. You are amazing - thank you so much for sharing this with us. It is important for us to see how prevalent victim blaming is in our culture."
Tom Tiernan: "It wasn't your fault. You can be sure of that."
I plan to hold up a banner. I want to do this for me, for others like me and mostly for those who think it is okay to say these things and get away. Time to face the mirror.
(All the images have been sourced from Tumblr.com)