Last summer I was awarded The Canon Female Photojournalist Award 2013 by the Association of Female Journalists (AFJ) for my project, “The Battle Within: Sexual Violence in America’s Military.” Next month the project will be exhibited at Visa Pour L’Image 2014, International Festival of Photojournalism in Perpignan, France, from August 30 to September 14 in the Couvent des Minimes. I would like to congratulate the 2014 winner, French photographer Viviane Dalles, for her proposed project about teen mothers in the North of France.
The Canon AFJ award provided the means for me to travel all over the United States for my project and I have met many survivors of Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Most of them are still seeking justice and all of them struggle to live with the lifelong challenges of MST that include depression, substance abuse, paranoia and feelings of isolation. Survivors often spend years drowning in shame and fear as the psychological damage silently eats away at their lives: many frequently end up addicted to drugs and alcohol, homeless or take their own lives.
I would like to send my most profound thanks to all of these courageous men and women who welcomed me into their homes, revealed their most painful experiences and allowed me to share their stories with the world.