November 22, 2017
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Mere Objects: safety pins with black seed beads, chosen by a woman who was abused by multiple perpetrators from the age of 5 to 23.

She chose safety pins because she used them to cut herself after her first attempt to report the abuse was met with inaction.

There are 3 pins with single beads, representing 3 periods of abuse in her life. The final pin has 6 beads, representing an experience of rape perpetrated by a group.

She says, “The last time was the worst. I was ready to end my life when some friends finally stepped in. I ended up moving away, but not before reporting the abuse... It has taken me two years just to come alive again and be a ‘normal’ fully functioning person again.”

 

May you find yourself surrounded by good people who care for and respect you, and may you continue to feel stronger, safer, and more alive with each passing day.

Sarah JaneComment
November 20, 2017
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Mere Objects: packaging from her prescription anti-depressant medication and seed beads resembling those from a handmade ring this woman once wore — a gift from her high school boyfriend.

Of that terrifying, controlling, manipulative relationship, she writes, “It took me 7 years to realize that what happened to me was indeed rape.

In Malaysia, she says, only “perfect” victims receive sympathy, so she has only told her parents and trusted friends. Even then, some friendships have ended because of it. “I refuse to let him win, but sometimes, I feel like I’m trapped in the dark.”

 

May you find freedom and validation in sharing your story. May you meet good people who will believe, respect, and support you, and may you come to see the brilliance of your own light, which no hurt or injustice can ever extinguish.

Sarah JaneComment
November 17, 2017
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Mere Objects: scraps cut from a fancy dress from a senior prom with "my then boyfriend/date, now my rapist."

The fierce woman who sent these writes that she doesn't know what to say about her personal story, but that she wants everyone to know that, "rape is NEVER your fault; it is NEVER your burden; it is NEVER your shame."

To others who have experienced sexual violence, she says, "Don't forget to take care of yourself... you're human, and you're healing."

 

May you find within yourself a deep well of peace and strength; a source to sustain you always.

Sarah JaneComment
November 15, 2017
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Mere Objects: two Bible passages on forgiveness. Written on top of one is: "tetelestai: the debt has been paid in full."

These were chosen by woman who says, "As I began to work through the process of healing from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, a new wave of shame came crashing down on me."

She goes on to describe how her faith has allowed her to both give and receive forgiveness, an unearned gift which is "the beauty of grace."

 

May the Spirit's unfailing love surround you and bring you peace that passes all understanding.

Sarah JaneComment
November 6, 2017
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Mere Objects: haunting remnants of an abusive relationship, including ribbon from an escaped balloon, a heart-shaped necklace she once bought herself after requesting it for Christmas & receiving a phone charger instead, and a note from her then-boyfriend with the words "LOVE SHOULDN'T HURT" written over it.

Lonely and unsure of what to expect from romance, this teenage girl was targeted by a boyfriend who used manipulation and coercion to rape her throughout their two-year relationship. She writes, "It's easy to say I could've stopped what he did to me. Could've shoved, kicked him off. That's what they teach you to do if a stranger comes at you. Fight back. Yell. They don't teach you what to do when it's a boy you really like... They don't warn you about those you love."

Today, at 20, she is free from his grasp and knows what she wants in her next relationship. Of these objects, she says, "I don't need them anymore! On to bigger & better things."

 

May you find yourself more free from these hurtful memories with each passing day, and may you know yourself to be worthy and complete -- fully deserving of real love, respect, and dignity.

Sarah JaneComment
November 3, 2017
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Mere Objects: a business card for the victim advocacy organization this woman founded, with the names of her rapists handwritten on the back. She requested that I cut the card to pieces, representing "the pieces of my life they stole."

The front of the card bore her photo. She writes that this represents "who I am today -- despite the past and what they did to me."

 

May you find peace and healing in this symbolic act of release, and may your work be guided by deep wisdom, discernment, and grounding.

Sarah JaneComment
November 1, 2017
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Mere Objects: her own "no means no" artwork literally rising up above the ashes from photos of her attacker. These objects were chosen by a wise and courageous teenager, who fearlessly placed own photo on the opposite side of the bottle.

 

May you continue to rise up from these ashes, as strong and bright as the phoenix, lifted on fiery wings of creativity and love. May you know the day when this painful experience is merely a smudge on the far horizon of your full and vibrant life.

Sarah JaneComment
October 30, 2017
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Mere Objects: a strip of hand-painted silk bearing the word "courage," and a piece of a baseball. These were chosen by a woman whose youth was marked by repeated violations, many connected with sports and athletes. She writes of how her family failed to protect her, enabling and encouraging the abuse -- even to the point of planning her marriage to one attacker when she became pregnant by rape.

After many years and much grief, she discovered silk painting as a creative outlet, "a chance to wrap my weary soul in beautiful colors and be reminded that I am not defined by what has happened to me."

 

May courage and hope continue to rise up within you, as vibrant and irrepressible as your paintings.

Sarah JaneComment
October 28, 2017
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Mere Objects: old photographs cut to countless tiny pieces. These were chosen by a woman whose brother abused her throughout her childhood, threatening and intimidating her into silence for 40 years. She chose -- and destroyed-- photos of him from her family albums, writing, "I finally took the power away from him, and it feels amazing!"

Mixed in with these is one more photo, of herself as a college freshman, on the night when an acquaintance raped her. She writes of this experience with doubt and regret, saying she knows it was rape and yet cannot forgive herself for drinking and pursuing the man who later attacked her.

 

Beloved one, may you break free from the last of these needless doubts, and come to rest in your true self -- innocent, whole, and undiminished in spite of all that you have suffered.

Sarah JaneComment
October 23, 2017
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Mere Objects: pieces from an amethyst bead, lace from a bra, & silk flower petals from a brooch.

These deeply personal items were chosen by a young woman who describes her relationship growing increasingly dark, as her boyfriend belittled & frightened her. After he raped & threatened her, she was able to seek help from her family & friends to escape the abusive relationship.

Today, she writes, "I still struggle with anxiety, but I've reclaimed my self-trust and I will continue to grow into my own inner strength."

 

May you know the strength & wisdom that has been with you all along. They led you to seek help in your time of need, guided your healing up to now, & can be trusted for everything your future may hold.

Sarah JaneComment
October 13, 2017
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Mere Objects: bits of shattered glass topped with rose quartz -- plus one unexpected diamond.

These are from a teenager who writes that she chose smoky black glass for "the stain it left in my heart and fear it left in my mind," and clear glass for "the part of me that still holds out hope to see the good in people." They are topped with rose quartz symbolizing hope for a brighter future.

Neither she nor I can explain how a tiny diamond got into the broken glass, but we decided to add it to the bottle cap -- a reminder that brightness and beauty come to us in the most unexpected places.

 

May your future rise bright and rosy before you, filled with people worthy of your trust, who will respect and honor you for the flawless jewel that you are.

Sarah JaneComment
October 11, 2017
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Mere Objects: a whole pile of beautiful, glowing gemstones, symbolizing strength, healing, and balance.

The woman who chose these described the process of going with her sister to choose each stone, and observed that "gemstones are created [through] different amounts of stress and pressure."

 

May you know the true gem that is you -- brilliant, infinitely precious, and wholly unique.

Sarah JaneComment