The FACES Project is a collection of black and white photographs of survivors of Sexual Assault and/or Domestic Violence on display in downtown Fort Collins every April. They asked if I would be willing to participate and I initially said no because I have never been comfortable being in front of a camera much less have my deepest darkest secret on display for the world to see. I finally agreed at the last minute realizing how instrumental SAVA is in what they do to promote the strength of survivors of a silent crime. Words will never be enough......thank you to my precious family, my loving friends, and the unconditional support from my bishop and the people in my church......and thank you  to my sweet, caring 16 year old son, Jordan for going with me to the event tonight!! He's 6'4" 270 lbs and is built like a herd of buffalo, I can't help but feel safe and protected with him by my side! :)  I'm incredibly blessed and am so unfathomably lucky to have so much happiness, so many adventures, so much fun, silliness, and really good bbq's in my life......what else is there!! :)~

Assault has no biases, it's not limited to social class, occupation, sex, race, religion and it crosses all boundaries. Rape is a violent crime and changes the path of the victim forever. I pursued law enforcement because of what I had experienced. I took a moral oath to protect women and children and others who could not protect themselves. To be a voice, when they had none. But even with all the training under my belt, what happened three years ago on the night of February 26th in Pagosa Springs, spiraled my life into a place that I was blind in seeing the obvious. I understand now how it affected every choice I've made since that moment.

It's only when we open up and recognize that even when we want to be strong, refusing to be a "victim", and to seek the help that is out there, that is when the true healing begins. When we decide to trust and be vulnerable again, is when our inner light is restored. It's a challenging road, yet the enlightenment and freedom felt is worth it. You can force your mind to forget or overlook what happened, and you can force yourself to think that you are not affected, but ultimately you are only fooling yourself. Your body and psyche never forgets.

I refuse to be defined by the selfish, hurtful acts of others. I am a survivor of a horrific crime and it has taught me so much. For that I am fortunate. I believe that every experience in our life, negative and positive, is for the needs of our soul to grow and become more humane. I had compassion and empathy before, but now my supply and understanding is limitless. Abuse in any form is a crime against the soul. Say NOMORE. Stand up. Be heard for the people who no longer can be, for even as we "walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fear no evil, for You are with us; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort us", forever and ever, Amen!

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as a Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced or cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

~William Ernest Henley

Washing my hands of the cruelty I was trained to recognize and became a survivor of.

**More photos from the gallery to come....so check in! :)