Project Unbreakable

Project Unbreakable

“You’re nothing…”

These are words I have heard over and over again. These are the words that have consistently affected my life, they were an attempt to convince me I was worthless, that I deserved nothing more then what was happening.

They are the words that were whispered to me when I was raped 6 years ago. They were the words that kept me chained to the idea that I, in fact, was not worth helping. They were the words that kept me pretty much silent for years. They were the words that held me back. But on October 28th, 2012, in a park in my hometown they didn’t hold me, I held them.

Taking the photograph with Grace was everything I thought it would be, but still don’t have the words to explain exactly what it felt like. In a way it was like telling a secret. But instead of whispering words that were told to me in confidence I was screaming a lie that I was forced to harbor. It was incredibly liberating. The things that were said that night stayed with me after all of these years, growing heavier and heavier. Without even the slightest realization I had grown to fully believed the terrible words he had spoken. I have been struggling for 6 years because I felt like I was worth nothing.  For 6 years I carried around this weight that I didn’t even realize I was holding on to. On October 28th I was able to get shed a bit of that weight and lessen my attachment to that day. Those words will always remain with me, but for the first time, I wasn’t being held back by them.

Project Unbreakable

On the few occasions I have really told anyone my story I have been told I am strong. I always resented people saying that because I never felt strong.  I felt like most people say that because they didn’t know what else was appropriate.  “You must be strong”, became a very superficial response to me. The way it came out of these people’s mouths was so forced; it felt so obligated, that it got to the point that I dreaded hearing it.

The way I explain it is that a lot of the time I feel like I am just surviving, there is no “off” switch to this post-rape reality so I have learned to take it day by day, step by step.  I saw this “strength” people were talking about as being closed off, too cautious, guarded. I saw minor slip ups in my recover process as huge setbacks. My strength was just a defense mechanism, keeping me from ever starting my recovery processes at all.

During my teacher training I told my yoga teacher my story. She and I had a conversation about how I could begin to grow through my experience instead of fighting it.  A little way into our talk I told her my thoughts on my “strength”.  She cut me off and looked at the ground, shaking her head, she said “you are so strong, Kae. So strong.” For the first time ever those words felt genuine, she truly believed that I was strong. Not strong because I was raped, but because for the first time I am actively trying to recover and because she knows how hard it is for me to let myself feel the emotions that come with being a rape survivor.  And she is proud of me for trying. I thank her so much for that.

For the first time I really believed that I must be stronger for working through this.



10 thoughts on “Project Unbreakable

  1. You are also very beautiful! Each day after an assualt takes courage to continue despite the fear to develop yourself into a woman who shares her gifts through yoga. Many assualt victims find healing in yoga. Thank you your sharing your story.

  2. “You’re so strong!” can be shorthand for “You’ve survived and recovered from an experience that would DESTROY me. I doubt I could ever bear up as well as you have!”

    Also … sometimes we can see in another what they deny seeing in themselves. Their dreams, their heart, their courage, their compassion for others, their ideals, their beauty. We’re usually not as thorough in concealing our true selves from others as we are from ourselves. We’re (literally) star dust … love and respect are our birthrights. Nobody can make us feel bad about ourselves without our consent.

  3. Kae- I think you finally put words into what I feel every time someone looks at me and tells me I am strong. I resent it, every word of it, I am just doing what everyone else does to make it through. I ended up doing Project Unbreakable this year, almost one year after my assault. It was empowering, and touched me a lot more than I thought it would. Kae, Thank you for sharing your experience.

  4. Dear Kae!

    I would like to first off say you are an extremely strong girl for what you have gone through! I want to share my story with this group because I know how it feels to hide this from people and not know how to talk or feel about it but reding your story has made me so much stronger and it’s beautiful to see how strong and confident you are!

  5. I’ve been very clinical in my approach to what happened to me and, similar to you, I’ve been told that I’m “strong” and “baring up surprisingly well” and that I’m “remarkably together about it all”. Inside, I don’t feel strong, I’m only just about baring up and I’m not sure how well I am coping. Like you, I turn to something external to help me. For me it’s Rowing, which requires a lot of my time and both physical and mental dedication. It’s really helping me to process what’s happened and, like you, I’m starting to believe my own strength and ability to cope.

    There’s no quick fix to this and that can often be one of the hardest things to accept. It is for me, in any case.

    I thought if I ignored it and treated it as a bad dream, then I would get over it. But, we have to be patient and take it day by day.

    When I found out about Project Unbreakable, it was honestly like a shining light to me. This such an effective way to get people talking and processing what they’ve been through. I’ve yet to write my note and take my pic to send to Grace, but I know already that it’s going to be one step closer to getting through this. It’s a brilliant vehicle for catharsis as well as Rape awareness that I’ve come across.

    Kae, I really relate to your story. Thank you – yet again, I can feel I’ve taken another step towards my recovery.

  6. We learn from our past, and it makes our future stronger and brighter. Keep fighting and believing and above all stay strong.

  7. Five months after I was married, a monster broke into my home and raped and sodomized me. He also choked me when I didn’t do what he asked soon enough. My husband was out of the country, and when he called the next day, I told him someone broke in. He asked what he got, and I said he got me. We did all the right things: called the police, did a rape kit, alerted the neighborhood. I thought I was fine. I was woman, hear me roar. But the one thing I needed I did not get-help. The stress, the fear, all culminated in my immune system shutting down, and two years later, when I was pregnant, I found out I had breast cancer. No one should have to be strong after an attack. PTSD doesn’t happen just to soldiers. It has taken me years of therapy to feel okay. I hope this project is helping you to feel okay too. I am lucky in that he is in jail now and has been for 20 years. I was an adult when it happened, and on the board of a rape crisis center. But it doesn’t matter the age. Violence is violence.

    My deepest hope is that you can find your peace and continue growing. I hope you won’t let him continue to eat at your soul because then he wins.

  8. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why people say that I’m strong, when it’s a struggle to get out of bed each morning. I don’t understand why I have been called brave, when I’m so afraid to trust in people. Hopefully one day it will make sense. Until then I’ll try continue to do what I’ve always done and survive.

    Thank you for helping me to see that I’m not as alone and confused as I feel.

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