I was raped in 2014. I struggled to function in everyday situations, leaving my flat in London was difficult and the only place I felt safe was my bedroom, I grew confidence to be able to go to university and be in the darkroom printing for hours and hours on end. I started drinking a lot, and it was a vicious cycle I drunk to forget but the more drunk the more vunerable I felt so I would get emotional. My long term relationship broke down after it happened. I couldn’t communicate what happened with anyone, and no one quite understood why I wasn’t the same person they always knew. The only place I felt no judgement was a moleskine notebook that I wrote in most nights. I wrote letters to the people who had left me when they promised they wouldn’t. To the men that did what they did. To the passers-by who didn’t stop. To the police who asked if I was telling the truth why did I wait so long to report the crime. It is a notebook that I still write in and is full of the questions that still haunt me, and are still left unanswered.
I guess I was functioning more I stopped drinking I started getting comfortable to leave my house, and through my notebook I was able to get my feelings off my chest without letting them build up. It was when one of my closest friends sat me down and told me that her ex boyfriend had raped her, it was when she told me she went to the police after 48 hours and they made her feel as if it was her fault. It was when she told me she felt it was her fault. I sat in a coffee shop and my blood boil with anger. It didn’t matter how many times I told her that it was his fault, that there was nothing she could have done to change the events, because I knew that feeling, I knew what it felt like to feel the dread and the questions that circled around your head. I went home that night and I realised how many people there was in this world who felt just like me, just like my friend, that had no voice. I wanted to start something to help these people talk about their experience, and the only way I knew how was through my own method of coping. Using my photography skills I wanted to showcase their voice. In autumn 2017 I started the project One in Five.
One in Five is the statistic of women in the UK that will be raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime, but I am sure that number is probably a lot higher. I wanted people who aren’t in the public eye to have a voice. I wanted to showcase what is going on in our streets. We hear about parliament or in hollywood but what if you aren’t a public figure?
The project is created by photographing on a 5×4 camera using black and white film, using a long shutter release cable so that the survivor chooses when they want to take the image. I send out moleskine notebooks for the survivor to write anything and everything they want to in there. It is bare, uncensored and unedited to showcase it can happen to anyone. It is not about what you are wearing, what time of night it is, or how much you had to drink. One in Five focuses on the survivor. It is set up how they want, they choose when to take the photograph. They decide what they want to write, whether it be details of the attack or how it has affected them since. I curate the images along with the diaries entries and show them as diptychs. It is something I want to shout about, I want to speak up for those who feel their voice was taken from them. I hope for a change so that the next generation doesn’t have to have these statistics that we do, I hope for a less judgemental and more understanding society. I hope to end victim shaming.