The Sunflower Project
Helping survivors turn towards the sun
DSC_0970.JPG

Letters to Survivors: A Blog

#Demand2BHeard: Why This Is So Important

The Sunflower Project has just launched its latest project: #Demand2BHeard. This project is aimed at getting survivor stories out there in any form possible. That means writing, dancing, music, videos, fine art or visual art, or whatever the survivor deems fit to tell their story.

The point of this project is two fold.

The first part of this project is to give survivors a safe space to share their stories. In this time that we live in, the world is hostile towards anyone who wants to share a story of abuse, assault, or violence. It has become increasingly difficult to come across a space where people are there telling you it’s okay to be who you are, to be honest with the rest of the world, to own your past. It has additionally become increasingly rare to come across a person who tells you I want to hear your story. That is exactly what I intend to do. I am telling survivors that I want to hear their stories. We must not live under the farce that “no one wants to hear these stories”. They must be heard. They demand to be heard.

When I decided that my story demanded to be heard, and created Untold with my father, I was terrified. Sure, I thought my story deserved to be heard, but what if other people didn’t? What if I was booed off stage? What if no one believed me? What if this just made everything worse? However, I found the courage to share my story anyways, despite these very real, very scary doubts. And what I found was all but unbelievable.

I was received with open arms and warm hugs—metaphorically and literally! People cheered for me. They told me I was brave. They said they were proud of me. And I was proud of myself.

You see, the reason we find it so scary to share our story is because hardly anyone does it. A select few tell us we don’t deserve to be heard and that nobody wants to hear our story, but really, it’s just those few that don’t want to hear it. Unfortunately, those few people can ruin our perception of what the public actually wants, because hearing “your story isn’t important” from just one person can be the scariest thing we ever experience.

We can NOT let those select few change our minds—our story demands to be heard! I want every survivor to have the experience of a warm embrace like I did. I want every survivor to be told by a complete stranger that their story is valid, it’s powerful, and it’s important. This has become a huge part of my healing process, and I want it to be a part of other’s as well.

Part two of #Demand2BHeard is to create a force—a strength in numbers, so to speak. My goal is to have 100 survivors submit to #Demand2BHeard by the end of the year.

There are scary people out there—people who abuse and violate, manipulate and scar. Those people only do these things because they think they can get away with it. Why else would they commit these disgusting acts? But, if you knew for a fact that you would get caught, would you still do it?

The reason these people think they can get away with being abusive and violent is because they know that the chances of their victim speaking out about it is slim to none. That has to change.

By sheer force, #Demand2BHeard will bring together 100 survivors or more onto one platform, thus proving these abusers horribly wrong. Let’s stand up and say NO! We WILL fight back! We WILL speak out! We WILL demand to be heard!

If we can convince the world that they can no longer get away with pushing us down and stepping all over us, we have come that much closer to ending this sort of violence.

 The reason I am opening up this platform to any sort of expression is because I often found that words did not suffice, and art had to take its place. If you feel comfortable singing about abuse, taking photos about manipulation, or dancing about rape, then you are valid in making that choice of expression. I will not hold anybody to any standards of communication—however your story manifests is exactly how it was meant to be told.

To submit to #Demand2BHeard, go to www.towardsthesun.org and click the “Submit” button on the #Demand2BHeard page. You can also email me at leah@towardsthesun.org.

To all the survivors out there: Let’s show people our true selves. Let’s end the assumption that we will not speak out. Let’s DEMAND TO BE HEARD!!!

Leah Zeiger