Being raped at the age of 17, Ali Miller tried to hide what happened to her for years. However, one day she met a woman named Chantelle Baxter, who is the founder of a concept called Be Bangles, which makes bracelets that contain phrases meant to remind girls and women that they are important. Ms Baxter encouraged Ali Miller to share her rape story online. Ali at first disagreed but eventually gave in and her story went live in October of 2015. To Ali's surprise, telling her story helped her to move on from what happened to her. This made her (Ali) wonder if doing this (telling their story) could not help other women facing issues with grief and/or trauma. Thus 'I Am Movement' which is an online photography project for women to share their stories with others facing similar ordeals, was born.
Below I shall be sharing with you 15 inspirational images and stories of real women, quoted directly off of the 'I Am Movement' Website and Instagram.
"Ali Miller was raped at 17 by a boy she had called to help her home after she drank too much. She could barely keep consciousness; she remembers him lying on top of her; she was left in a driveway with her underwear gone and bruises on her thighs; she tried to escape the shame and the memory by attending college in another state." – Source: Tiffany Lukk via bust.com
"The last thing I remember was being pushed onto a mattress. For the rest of my senior year of high school, I was either, Ali Miller, the girl who was raped when she was passed out. Or Ali Miller, the girl who lied to get attention. But now it's time to be who I really am. I am not a victim, I am a survivor."
"I think a lot of people think talking about potential is a really positive thing... and it can be, but I realized that it had impaired me. It felt like people have boxed me in. I was sexually abused as a child. As you can imagine, that crushed my self-value and worth. I was 6 years old and didn't tell anyone till [age] 13. When I did, I was called a slut. My parents told me they were disappointed in me... People would tell me I have potential, but I have felt so much pressure because of that. I felt like I wasn't valuable as a human, so I overcompensated by excelling in school, sports, etc. I wanted to prove to people that I was a valuable human being. My whole life I have heard that I have so much potential as if I am defined by achievements. I want people to know that it's okay to be more than your accomplishments. More than failure. I am more than my potential. I am more than my achievements. I want to be known for other things."
"I was diagnosed with depression & anxiety in 2010, at the end of my first year of PA school. I battled through medication changes & suicidal thoughts in order to get through my clinical rotations & graduate on time to fulfill my dream of working with cancer patients. 5 years later, I traveled to VA for an oncology conference featuring my hero, Dr. Patch Adams, as the keynote speaker. On the 2nd night, I was drugged & raped by a stranger in my own hotel room. I said no. I said stop. I pushed. & when he bit me, I bit him back. He still managed to accomplish his goal. I woke up broken & bruised. But since then, with the help of an incredibly supportive husband, an amazing therapist & a support group of other survivors, I've learned that I am a fighter. I've fought depression. I fought him. & I'll keep fighting against rape culture so what happened to me doesn't happen to anyone else."– Source: Via i-am-movement.com
"My childhood, while amazing and extremely privileged, was devoid of love and created a reverberating echo in my head that I could never be good enough. I shrivelled up, as a result, preferring to be in the shadow than in the light. It was not until 1.5 years ago when I severed ties with my birth family and surrounded myself with my chosen family that I have finally found the courage and comfort to tell myself that I am enough."
"On May 8th, 2016 I was raped by a basketball player at my University. He was arrested when he walked out to "clear his name" and spent a few days in jail -that's it. I was not only physically violated but I was emotionally torn from my own life. My sense of safety, belonging and my personality have all taken a toll. He ruined me that night -but in return he also made me stronger. I now know what it's REALLY like to fight for what I believe in and I couldn't be more proud of myself. I have been afraid and broken but because of this I am now STRONG."
"My mom died when I was 4 years old and I have serious abandonment issues with people. I have to remember that my mom's "abandonment" was unintentional and not indicative of my interactions with people."
"Being in an abusive relationship changes a person. So many people think that I'm this hateful, angry, bitch but have no idea that I spent almost three years being reduced to nothing, thinking I would never be good enough, constantly crying and feeling worthless. After that, I stopped letting people choose who I would be or how I would feel."
"Going bald was not my choice; in August 2015 I noticed my first quarter sized bald spot on the back of my head. In September I was diagnosed with alopecia areata. By November I lost 3/4 of my hair and shortly after shaved my head. With the love and support of my friends and family, I came to terms with my alopecia and began to embrace my unique look. I hate being stared at when I'm out in public. Sometimes I just want to blend in. I've learned so much about myself and have found self-love and inner beauty. I'm still learning it's okay to miss my hair, but I am bald. I am beautiful."
"Anxiety and depression are hard to live with, but they're even harder to deal with alone. We walk around knowing that it's just not something that's talked about and that as long as everyone else thinks we're okay that that's all that truly matters. We lock ourselves in the dark so that others can't see our pain, not even realizing that by letting them in, the light will follow. But I've learned that I don't need to hide my struggles for the comfort of others, no one does. There is strength in asking for help, and we don't have to lock ourselves in the darkness. Because of this, my answer has forever changed. I am not okay."
"The morning my dad passed away I was awoken by a friend of mine who has said I hadn't really slept all night but rather cry slept while she held me in her arms until I wearily dozed off. My dad was on his final leg with a battle against Multiple System Atrophy, and he was unconscious for his last two days comfortable in his own room at our home. Lying wide awake in bed at 6:15 am on October 19, 2015, knowing I should check on my dad while he lay in the next room. I closed my eyes & took a deep breath. Within the next ten minutes, I had a dream. Many people say that their loved ones visit them in their final moments. This was one of those moments: I was standing over my dad in his bed, my brothers were surrounding me as I asked my dad to wake up. He opened his bright, beautiful blue eyes and said to me, "Taylor, you are going to be okay. Everyone is going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay." Rising from my brief slumber around 6:26 am, I walked into my living room. Our entire house was filled with peace and quiet. To me, I described it like Christmas morning. Being the youngest child growing up I was always the first awake. I would go out and look at the tree with all of the presents under it, take in all of the quiet safety I felt and proceeded to cause all of the chaos as I jumped on my older brother's beds to wake them up. That morning I walked into my dad's room after my dream of him opening his eyes and saying, "everything is going to be okay" to not finding his heartbeat. At that moment I realized my dad's last wish was to comfort my brothers and me with the knowledge that he will be watching over us and that we were all going to make it through this extremely tough thing called life but that we are never alone. I am my father's daughter, and I will forever be grateful for the man who raised me."
"January 1, 2014, my worst nightmare came true. Cancer finally took my mom's life. As much as you try to prepare for something like this before it happens, it's never enough. I lost my best friend that day and living without her suddenly seemed and sometimes still does seem impossible. With the love of my dad, sister and amazing boyfriend along with medication I have decided to stay in this world. I miss my mother more than anything in the entire world, but I know she will always be there even when no one else is because I am living beneath my angel."
"Happiness. For about 20 years, I understood that concept but never knew what it truly felt like. I was diagnosed with depression in second grade. I had struggled with it growing up and hit rock bottom after my grandpa passed away during my sophomore year in college. I came home from school and went into treatment for depression and anxiety. I learned that my feelings are valid and self-love is important, I accepted and came to terms with my mental illness, and decided (most importantly) that it will never define me. When it came to facing and overcoming my depression, I turned to my faith. Almost 2 years have passed - I am now a strong woman of God, completely off of medication, and happier than I ever dreamed of being."
"I was raped when I was 17. I didn't understand what had happened to me, a male friend of mine found out what had happened and told me I was "no longer pure" that I was "dirty" to him. I absolutely blamed myself, and it wasn't until last year that I realized the gravity of what had happened to me. Since then I have felt like my body isn't my own. I can't handle people touching me because it feels like a threat. Like anyone can reach out and take me, just by touching me. After I had been assaulted, I lied to my mother about getting birth control to "try and clear my acne", because I wanted to make sure if I was raped again I wouldn't get pregnant. I was convinced that I had no control over who had access to my body. After months of hard work and therapy, I am FINALLY beginning to feel my body again, feel like myself again. I am learning that there is power in physical contact, which if I want to hug someone or kiss someone, it is my choice, and it's not wrong. I am in control of my body, and I.am.not.yours."
"Living with depression is an interesting thing. Most people assume that if you have depression, you sit in a dark room, cry, and listen to Enya all day. Or they tip toe around you, for fear of saying something "wrong". In reality, depression is such a broad mix of emotions. It's voice in our head, a mental battle with yourself, that can leave you exhausted and overwhelmed. On the outside, I'm the happiest person that ever lived. The inside is the struggle. If there is anything I want people to know about depression and anxiety, is that it doesn't make you odd, crazy, or weird. It's something that people need to start addressing. Too many people shove their sad feelings under the rug, or just tell themselves it's just a "weird phase". We need to start talking about mental health just like we speak of cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. Tell someone if you constantly feel sad, you are NOT alone, and it's totally normal. I may have depression, but depression doesn't have me."
"You hear stories about college students being victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, or rape. Never did I think I would be one of them. 6 weeks into my freshman year of college my biggest nightmare came true, and my life changed forever. I had been sexually assaulted in my dorm room. I couldn't eat for weeks, couldn't go into my room or be on campus. After a little while, I was finally able to go into my room comfortably but still endured nightmares and flashbacks while sleeping. I was constantly being told that it was my fault and that I could have done more to stop it. I was forced to talk with the counsellor at school but stopped going because I felt it didn't help. Over winter break things started to get better but then it was time to go back, and I dreaded it. Once I got back, it was worse than the first semester. Things went downhill quickly. I went into a deep depression and questioned why me and why now and why at all. I was so confused and didn't understand anything and was suicidal. To this day I still struggle with it all and still don't understand. I do know one thing, and that is that I am more than another statistic, I am a survivor and a stronger person."