According to the FBI’s semiannual crime report, incidents of reported rape rose 3.5 percent in 2016. And that number only reflects the number of rapes actually reported. The CDC claims that one in five women have “experienced completed or attempted rape,” and most victims (or survivors, to use the more accepted vernacular) suffer some form of sexual violence before the age of 25.
What’s worse, many of these incidents go unreported or, in many cases, unaddressed by law enforcement. Many who have survived sexual assault struggle with its damaging effects in private, for fear of not being believed, or for fear of retribution. Those wounds can fester for years, or even decades. Survivors often suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or develop depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses, dramatically changing their lives.
One local artist and rape survivor, Linda Lazzarini, wants to broadcast the voices of those who have been silenced by society, and to make a statement about the prevalence of sexual violence.
Currently, Lazzarini is accepting submissions from survivors for her art project “Women’s Voices.” The concept: 100 origami mouths, connected by a ribbon pulley so they can open and close, each bearing a statement by a survivor written around its lips.
She instructs survivors to, “Be philosophical, be angry or just relate your story. Be as honest as you can. Talk to yourself, the universe, your god, the criminal(s), the victim(s), your parents, your children, to whomever might be standing in front of it reading it.”
As outing oneself as a survivor can be difficult, painful and traumatic, Lazzarini has set up an anonymous submission form
for those unwilling to put their name or pseudonym on their submission. Otherwise, she encourages emails (firstname.lastname@example.org
) so that she may respond.
She will collect submissions until she has reached 100. Currently, 60 women have shared their stories.