The War

When one in six women is the victim of a sexual assault in our nation alone, what word best describes that statistic other than war?

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Not long ago I found out that a second female friend of mine had been the victim of a rape. I’m sure there are other women in my life that I know and love who have been through this as well. I felt compelled to do something for them. The most powerful tool I have is photography.

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Who stands up for the women in our lives? Who protects them?

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There is a light within all good people. No one wants a lover, family member, or friend to be hurt so cruelly. Sadly, unless pain is in the scope of our own experience, few of us do anything. We wait until it happens to take action. I want you to take a moment, and think of all of the women in your life that you love. Whether you know it or not, some of them have been touched by this war.

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I want to protect all of the people in my life that I love. I want to protect people I have never met.

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If we all had the grace of fighters, would it make a difference? Could we fight for the 17.7 million American women who have been victims of attempted or completed rape?

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68% of rapes go unreported. Only 2% of rapists ever serve a day in prison.

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We need to open our eyes.

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Are you angry yet?

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They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

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What I feel isn’t just anger. Anger is too light a word. I feel rage for this crime.

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This is a giant evil that has existed for thousands of years. Will you stand with Siri and I and throw the stone?

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If you know someone who is facing the thorns of memory. They are not alone. No one should have to go through this alone.

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It’s easy to take for granted just feeling clean.

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If you’ve been a victim there are people who can help.

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I’m just asking you to think.

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Think of the courage it takes for someone to come forward.

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If all you can do is listen, then listen.

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I have hope.

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Sexual assault has fallen by 49% in recent years. By erasing the stigma we’ve attached to the victims and increasing awareness things have gotten better. We still have a long, long way to go.

So what can you do? I recommend checking out: RAINN – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network This site is a great resource to learn more, donate to a great cause, or find out how you can make an impact locally.

This shoot features two distinctly different looks, one represents a goddess of protection and healing. She’s the part of us that wants to defend. Unfortunately we can’t defend against something that for so many women has already happened.  I see within those women a goddess of anger and pain. I can’t fathom what it is like to go through an evil as terrible as assault. But I stand with them.

Huge thanks to Devan Weitzman, my hair, makeup, and styling artist who took a very vague feeling and idea in my heart and made it a visual reality. Huge huge thanks to the immensely talented dancer and model, Siri Hafsø who danced her heart out in the desert. Siri’s name means “beautiful woman who leads you to victory.” I can’t think of a more beautiful soul to represent this important issue. It was photos of Siri’s dancing that made me think how similar dancing looks to fighting, and through that idea the whole shoot formed. And finally I want to thank Laura Zillman, an undergraduate at George Washington University who has had the courage to take a stand against sexual assault. Her dedication inspires me and gives me hope that there are young people still willing to fight for what is right.

This shoot we did in the desert is just a drop in the bucket as to what we can each do on a personal level. Please share this. Please get involved. Please support the victims. In the time you took to view these images and read these words another three people in America were sexually assaulted.

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  • MaryElisabeth Kimbark

    Wow. These images are beautiful and strong and disturbing. You should think about selling prints and giving a portion of the proceeds to an organization that supports the cause!ReplyCancel

  • Darin

    Powerful images. Though provoking words.ReplyCancel

  • Heather Kanillopoolos

    This is such a monumentally important topic and one not often explored by the arts. Thank you for boldly bringing it to the forefront.ReplyCancel

  • Jacqueline

    These are beautifully done. Very powerful. Well done Josh!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Schilling

    These are really powerful images, Josh. Great work and such an important message.ReplyCancel

  • Beautiful set of photographs, that represent something that isn’t talked about near enough.ReplyCancel

  • Gavin Farrington

    This is amazing, Josh. Thanks for doing this project. Please seriously consider Maryelisabeth’s comment.ReplyCancel

  • loved this post on so many different levels. love what you wrote, love the images… and she’s a beautiful dancer.ReplyCancel

  • Powerful set of images, Josh. Good idea, Mary Elizabeth.ReplyCancel

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