Dear World,

I hadn’t realized that I was still so affected by my history–by the trauma of my own experience.


As far too many women experience, a former classmate of mine from high school raped me during our college years. And as many women so often do, I boxed up the experience, buried it in the back of my brain, and thought I had moved on with life - until the 2016 election.

After ‘grab ‘em by the pussy’ happened, memories started resurfacing and flashbacks started to happen. As we progressed into “making America great again” with a rapist President, I realized that our current state of affairs was triggering for victims of sexual assault or rape everywhere. Attempting to find artistic catharsis, I created a personal portrait project called Every Woman I Know, where I began photographing every woman I personally knew who was a victim of sexual violence. While I felt I had dealt with my own trauma, I knew other women would need and want an outlet where they could feel safe, heard, and understood.

It wasn’t until I photographed a friend from high school who told me how much lighter she felt, how her participation freed her from the weight of her experience, that I began to really get the gravity of the project, of the work I was doing. I broke down my set, packed up my equipment, and went to a trail nearby to hike to decompress after such an emotionally draining day. About a mile into the hike, overwhelming emotions bubbled up, and I was overcome with tears of relief and happiness. I hadn’t realized that I myself was still so affected by my history, the trauma of my own experience, and through that friend’s words, realized how much lighter I was also feeling since beginning the project. I was filled with immense gratitude for all the stories shared, and the presence of love, trust, and support that opened up through the project. I got fully present to the collective power of healing happening for all participants, myself included. It was a magical, mind-blowing realization - each time we shared our stories with each other, both of us left set a little less burdened by our pasts, and I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome from such a deeply personal project.

For the rest of that hike, I allowed myself to live in that emotional experience, releasing all the pain and negativity I’d absorbed in listening to so many stories, as well as my own. I left that forest feeling lighter in a way I hadn’t experienced in almost a decade. I started this project to help others, and ended up helping myself when I didn’t even know I needed it. It came full circle in a way I could never have imagined.


I Healed Myself Through Healing Them

Support this photographer: Alyssa Meadows ︎  @ameadowsphoto      



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