How Sexual Assault Affects Survivors Daily

In collaboration with Planned Parenthood, Alexa Lim Haas's short film "Everyday I," which premieres today on Broadly, shows how sexual assault and harassment can impact our everyday lives.

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Nov 2 2018, 1:48pm

Planned Parenthood released the latest video in their UNSTOPPABLE initiative, which aims to help people realize both their own bodily autonomy and respect that of others, on Broadly this morning. "We believe your body is your own. If it is not, you cannot be truly free or equal," the initiative manifesto reads. The video, "Everyday I," directed and animated by Alexa Lim Haas, illustrates the effects of sexual harassment and assault on survivors in their everyday lives.

"The essential idea behind the film is how sexual violence, even micro-aggressions such as cat-calling, really reverberate through a person's life beyond just the moment of the violation," Lim Haas, an artist and filmmaker who was born and raised in New York City, tells Broadly. Over her illustrations of women, the video features Lim Haas's interviews with survivors of sexual harassment and assault as they discuss the way they've been affected by it in their everyday.

The anonymous women in the video discuss dealing with the threat of sexual violence since childhood, not wanting to offend men who've assaulted them, feeling the need to hide themselves in public, and changing the way they take up space—among other themes—as ways they've been affected by their experiences. "I think that it made me tougher than I wanted to be," says one woman. "It's like stunting a part of your personality in order to keep safe," says another.

For Lim Haas, this work, in collaboration with Planned Parenthood, is personal for two reasons. First, she has used the organization's services herself. "There are things I didn't feel comfortable talking to my mother about. She's a very conservative Filipino woman and I didn't feel comfortable going through our doctors, so [Planned Parenthood] was a space where I could go," she says. Additionally, Lim Haas has her own history with sexual assault and continues to live with the impact of it every day. "I feel that I have not yet found empowerment and I think that its a struggle for me from my own personal experiences with sexual violence.

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"Everyday I" not only focuses on the negative ways in which women have been impacted by sexual abuse and harassment, but the ways in which survivors are able to live with and overcome their trauma. "As I've matured, I went from looking at the ground to holding my head high," says one of the people in the video. "I've just been re-teaching myself over and over that it's not my fault," says another. "I don't owe anyone my fake kindness."

Lim Hass wanted to emphasize the importance of seemingly small progress in the aftermath of an assault. "Finding empowerment is a journey and it happens in small steps," she says. "[From] everyday small moments of being in a defensive state, to being able to find power in a small moment such as being able to hold your head up when you're walking down the street."

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