The Voices and Faces Project speaks truth to the often outdated, damaging and limiting notions society has of the sexually violated by giving voice and face to rape survivors. Here are their stories.
Photography by Patricia Evans & Text by Anne Ream, The Voices and Faces Project.
Missy Carson, Virginia
Missy Carson is a wife and mother of three who lives in the most bucolic of settings: a Virgina horse farm, where she is surrounded by the animals she loves, and the family she is closest to.
Her life did not always feel so safe. At the age of twelve, while living in upstate New York, Missy was raped by four teenage boys. “I told no one, out of an intense fear, and I pretended to be the perfect daughter. I tried to act as if nothing had happened. Eventually my family moved, but the pain of the rape stayed with me. I struggled with flashbacks, an eating disorder, and cutting – all of the things that so many girls who have lived through rape deal with. Still, my greatest fear was that the boys who had raped me had gone on to hurt others. Years later, when I finally was able to find out what had happened to them, I learned that one of them had actually been in and out of prison since he was seventeen. I will never know exactly these fout may have done to others, and I will always live with that, because the statute of limitations was up by the time I had the courage to speak.”
Today, Missy balances her past pain with her present hope that things will someday be different. “Being raped changed my life changed dramatically – there was degradation, pain and lasting damage. But I have tried to do good things with that pain. In our community in Virginia, I founded the first domestic violence and sexual assault center, the Laurel Shelter. So many girls still are silent, maybe because they don’t know where to turn. I hope that the next twelve or thirteen year old victim of sexual assault will not wait twenty-three years before having the courage to come forward. That gives me the courage to speak today.”