Survivor Stories

The Voices and Faces Project speaks truth to the often outdated, damaging and limiting notions society has of the sexually violated by giving voice and face to rape survivors.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.

Nobuko Nagaoka, Indiana

Nobuko Nagaoka was a twenty-year-old woman when she came from Japan to study English at the University of Michigan. Nine months after arriving in America, she was raped.

“For a time, I never spoke about it. Being in this country had been my dream, and I knew if I told my parents what had happened they would make me come home. So I just kept on. What’s funny now is that when I look back on my journal from that time, I see how much I wrote about being raped – almost every entry is about that violence. I can see from my journal what a life-changing experience it was for me at that age and time. It was a very lonely time, a time of a lot of fear and anger. But I never doubted that I wanted to stay in America – learning the English language and studying art was my dream, and I was not going to give that up. I was not going to let the man who raped me take that, too. I think that is where being angry helped me go on.”

“It changed my life then, and it still changes my life now. Slowly, over time, I learned to speak about it. I am very slow to trust people but years ago, one of my closest friends and colleagues told me that she had also been raped, and this created a bond between us that is important to me. I know that I can talk to her about it. The truth is that I have done so many things with my life since that time, and yet some part of the experience of rape is still with me. I think most women probably feel something like that. Every time I hear about rape happening to another women, I feel the pain and anger again, for her and also in myself.”