This is War

In the fall of 2017, I sat back and watched as the #MeToo movement flooded the media, including my own social media feeds.

First, I saw my mother’s generation step forward and share stories of their experience with sexual abuse. Some people went into great detail and brought themselves and their audience back to a time of terror, confusion, and darkness. Others wrote simply, “#MeToo.” The power of both was not lost on me. Then my older cousin’s generation shared their stories. Then my brother’s. Then mine. I read stories shared by the people I’d gone to elementary school with. The people with whom I’d once ate lunch while we compared ages or discussed whose class we’d be in the next year. These were the same people with whom I’d transitioned to middle school. Whom I hugged goodbye when I moved away in eighth grade but kept in contact with through high school and into college. Now these people, who were closer than family, were baring their souls and letting me know that they’d endured an unspeakable trauma in complete silence.

Rage boiled inside me and sent pulses of pure hatred rippling through my body. I wanted to scream. I wanted to yell. Cry. Punch something. This only intensified when I learned that the majority of the perpetrators who’d left such ugly scars got away with it.

I wanted to let these survivors know that I was angry FOR them. I wanted to let them know that I would stand proudly in solidarity with them and fight for a tomorrow where no one would have to say #MeToo.

But I didn’t know how.

I didn’t have a tragic experience of my own to share with the world to let fellow survivors know I understood their pain. I couldn’t imagine the fear and paranoia they must have experienced from that moment on. All I had was pure fury and a camera.

I didn’t realize the shutter button would become my next social weapon.

That’s why I created the #ThisIsWar project. I wanted to create a safe space where survivors of sexual, emotional, physical, verbal, and mental abuse felt empowered to step forward and stand with me on the battlefield of social justice. I wanted to provide an outlet for them to find a voice that they may have kept hidden for weeks, months, or years.

I wanted people to know that #ThisIsWar and we will not retreat.

Scholarship

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This is War, Chloe Rose Neva Watts - 2018 Anchell International Documentary  Photography Scholarship Recipient

This is War, Chloe Rose Neva Watts - 2018 Anchell International Documentary  Photography Scholarship Recipient

This is War, Chloe Rose Neva Watts - 2018 Anchell International Documentary  Photography Scholarship Recipient