Apr 20 2011

Clean Slate

I’ve been talking about the Clean Slate Diaries a lot lately and I thought it was time to give you a sneak peak! My dear friend Renee DeVesty has been working harder than anyone could ever know organizing an event which is this coming Saturday, April 23rd, and I am honored to have been able to help her. This event will address sexual violence, abuse and rape in a whole new way – through art, music, and performance. The Clean Slate Diaries, as well as Renee and myself, were featured on the cover of last week’s issue of The Eagle.

My key role in the Clean Slate Diaries was producing a video that tells the story of how four courageous survivors overcame their experiences with sexual violence. I am extremely excited that I can now say my video is complete! But, as it premiers on Saturday night at the event, you’ll either have to make an appearance, or check back on Sunday to watch it here!

But for now, here is a short preview of what you will see on Saturday, April 23rd, at May Memorial which I shot during a run through last weekend:

I want to share my role in this event with you, and I thought the best way would be to share the answers I gave during my interview with The Eagle. So here they are:

How did you get involved?

I worked with Renee for a short period of time before returning to school and we immediately became very close friends. One day, we got talking and she confided in me that she is a rape survivor. This came as a huge shock to me as she is the kindest, gentlest and most joyful person I have ever met and I couldn’t imagine that anyone would ever want to hurt her. When Renee told me that she had dreams of building a website and hosting an event for survivors, I was immediately on board. With my background in visual communications and passion for cause work, along with Renee’s background in event planning, I thought, we could really make something happen… and here we are, nine months later, just days away from The Clean Slate Diaries.

What do you hope to accomplish through your involvement?

Through my involvement with The Clean Slate Diaries, I hope that survivors find comfort in the community and know they are not alone, and that while it takes time to overcome the horrors they have faced, they do not have to continue suffer. I hope that the performances and stories of survivors can inspire those in the audience as well as those who visit the website that there is hope, that suffering does not have to last a lifetime. I hope that through our event, we can raise awareness about the frequency of sexual violence and encourage individuals, whether they have experienced sexual violence or not, to speak up. The silence that surrounds sexual violence is what allows it to continue, and it’s time for that silence to be broken.

Personally, through my production of a short video as well as my overall involvement, I hope to provide a voice for those who have lost theirs to sexual violence. For those who are still suffering and cannot stand up to the world and say “This has to end,” I hope that I might be able to push forward on their behalf and fight for their justice and honor.

Has being a part of this process changed your views or perceptions about this topic at all? Do you feel differently about how we as a community deal with rape and sexual assault as a result?
Working with Renee to produce The Clean Slate Diaries, specifically my video piece on survivor stories, has very much changed my perceptions about rape and sexual violence. What I’ve learned more than anything else, is that sexual violence is not a rare thing – it happens commonly and frequently. The more Renee and I have talked about The Clean Slate Diaries and moved forward, the more people have come forward and told us their stories; friends, colleagues, and strangers alike. I never realized, and never before could have imagined, just how many people have been touched by sexual violence and how there truly is a veil of silence around it.

I don’t have as much background info for you as I do for Renee, so can you summarize your bio for me?

I am originally from Shaker Heights, Ohio – a suburb of Cleveland – and am 24 years old. I graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in 2009 with a degree in Photojournalism. After working for a year, I returned to Syracuse University where I am pursuing a master’s degree in Information Management at the School of Information Studies. Why am I interested in this event you may ask, because my passion is visual storytelling, and this is a story that needs to be old.

I myself am not a survivor of rape or sexual violence; however, we have all had to overcome tragedy and despair in our lives, and whether it was sexual violence or not, no one should have to suffer alone. No matter the crime or tragedy, we are all human, and it is our duty to take care of each other, to stand up against what we know is wrong, and offer a hand to those who need to know that brighter days are coming.

You can read Renee’s perspective on her blog!