“More Than a Survivor, More Than a Story” — an exhibition in Willard Straight Hall Art Gallery brought to campus by SASSY highlights the lives of survivors. (Darien Kim / Sun Staff Photographer)

“More Than a Survivor, More Than a Story” — an exhibition in Willard Straight Hall Art Gallery brought to campus by SASSY highlights the lives of survivors. (Darien Kim / Sun Staff Photographer)

November 4, 2015

Group Brings Exhibition to Campus Highlighting Survivors of Abuse

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Aiming to raise awareness of the commercial sexual exploitation of children, “More Than a  Survivor: More Than a Story” — a photo project featuring the portraits of 22 women who are survivor leaders from across the country — opened to the public Monday in the Willard Straight Hall Art Gallery.

“More Than a Survivor, More Than a Story” — an exhibition in Willard Straight Hall Art Gallery brought to campus by SASSY highlights the lives of survivors. (Darien Kim / Sun Staff Photographer)

“More Than a Survivor, More Than a Story” — an exhibition in Willard Straight Hall Art Gallery brought to campus by SASSY highlights the lives of survivors. (Darien Kim / Sun Staff Photographer)

The exhibit has taken more than a year of effort from Cornell organization Students Against the Sexual Solicitation of Youth — also known as SASSY  — and is a traveling photo project that offers an alternative narrative for victims of commercial sexual exploitation or domestic trafficking.

At the opening reception for the exhibit, SASSY co-president Shiwani Bisht ’16 explained in her speech that the exhibit was based on “Survivor Leader Transition” or the the concept that survivors of sexual exploitation are more than their traumas.

“The women in the photographs around us are beautiful, empowered and successful people who are more than a collection of traumatic events,” Bisht said. “They have become leaders by telling their stories, sharing their growth and combating commercial sexual exploitation in their own distinct way.”

Bisht then cited several examples of how the women in the photographs had overcome their traumas to become leaders in the arts, in science, in politics and even by fighting and protecting other victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

In addition to celebrating the diversity, strength and accomplishments of the featured survivors, the exhibit also aims to “inspire a tangible sense of hope and future” for other sexually exploited or trafficked women, according to a press release.

The “More Than a Survivor: More Than a Story” exhibit is part of a larger campaign by the Girls Educational and Mentoring Services — a New York State organization serving women who have been sexually exploited or domestically trafficked — and their Survivor Leadership Institute and Resource Center, which provides survivors with leadership training, a chance to connect with other survivors and the opportunity work toward ending commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking.

SASSY, which has been working since the fall of 2014 to bring the exhibit to campus, was founded in 2009 after several Cornell students attended an Alternative Spring Break trip working with Girls Educational and Mentoring Services. After returning, the students formed SASSY. and worked to further the Girls Educational and Mentoring Services’ mission on Cornell’s campus.

In particular, SASSY has focused on educating Cornellians about and fighting negative stereotypes surrounding the “commercial sexual exploitation of children,” which Bisht defined as a form of violence involving “any sexual activity involving a child in exchange for something of value to the child or another person or persons.”

Elaborating on the importance of the exhibit and the work that SASSY does, Bisht added in her speech that between 100,000 to 300,000 children, who have previously had a history of sexual abuse, are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation a year.

“[Commercial exploitation of children] impacts all of us. It may not be easily visible in a community, but it’s prevalent everywhere,” Bisht said. “Many think this is an international issue, but in reality it happens in the United States as well. You may not be aware that someone you are connected with is also a survivor of [commercial exploitation of children].”

Andrew Lee contributed reporting.

  • The Kid

    As an avid rock and roll fan, 29 years of age, I have to object to this
    post. My question to you is this; were you really thinking that Pearl
    Jam was going to come out with TEN 2 or VS. part 2? I didn’t know they
    were still in their 20’s screaming about teenage angst, father problems,
    and drug abuse. Pearl Jam is nearing 50 years old – do you really want
    Eddy crying help about McCready over dosing at 49 years old? Or how
    Eddy doesnt know who his father is still? The problem I have with
    critics like you is this: all you know is Ten and Vs. fact is, they
    have evolved. Yes they committed suicide time and time again when Kurt
    died, refusing to play tickemaster shows, doing music videos, being
    extremely experimental, then coming out with Binaural. Then to make it
    worse, they had 9 fans die at a concert, the Bush Admn was fuckin up
    Ed’s world, and we got Riot Act. Lightning Bolt is different. “Mind
    your Manners,” which sounds NOTHING like Black Circle (you sound like an
    a JAG critic (just another guy) – a robot – just because people are
    referencing Manners is a throwback to the Black Circle days,does not
    mean it sound lick for lick to Black Circle…dumb) it is one of the
    best pure energetic rock/punk songs to come out in the 2010 era. But
    all the critics are so blind to see that, because the Creators of
    “ALIVE” and “Even Flow” need to create something BETTER! Those days are
    over – Rock and Roll is a dying breed. The song Lightning Bolt live
    was incredible – there is no PJ song that has that kind of build up
    tempo, its purely different. Sirens is completely different. Swallowed
    Whole, lyrically beautiful with 4 guitars rifting simultaneously as
    one. Point is, they gave us another well put together album with a 12
    diverse song set – some are great – some not so great – some are rock,
    punk, ballads, acoustic, pop, = alternative Pearl Jam. If you want TEN 2
    and going to keep complaining about it – then cry to the new age so
    called “rock stars,” I.e. The Strokes, Kings of Leon, Jack White, The
    Killers, Gaslight Anthem, etc. Ask them to give us something as good as
    Ten, Vs, Vitology, No Code, Yield, and even Lightning Bolt, because no
    one is giving us anything anymore. We live in an age where teenagers do
    not need rock and roll anymore. They are given everything they need
    with one swoosh of their index finger on their phone…..Pearl Jam gave
    us an alternative rock and roll album that is relevant and genius at age 48. If you can look past the yearn for Vs. Part 2 — you will see this.

    • Forgot_about_Dre

      I agree with everything said above.

      Nearing 40, I grew up with Pearl Jam. While there is a strong connection between our stations in life, there was a period in the early aughts when I did not pay attention to their then-current stuff. It did not connect. Still, amongst those largely disappointing efforts are some gems.

      Everyone has a right to their opinion, but you lost all credibility at the comparisons to Matchbox Twenty and Lifehouse. Those feel like the rote snark that has infected most reviews. I am a fan of snark, well-done snark, this was a huge misfire.

      If you are lucky, like I certainly am, find a young band that can be the matching soundtrack to your life. I still love Ten and Vs., and always will. But I don’t connect to them like I once did. Thankfully that anger has subsided.

      It appears to me that this album is “Not for you, Oh never was for you…”

      • TanoFan

        Perhaps it is the roughly two decade difference in age that leaves me feeling opposite of the reviewer, but I couldn’t disagree more when it comes to this album. Wait, it can’t be the twenty years, because it is ‘just twenty years’.

        I am still parsing out how I feel about the album as a whole and while it is unlikely to crack my top three it is a solid effort out of the band. I am wrapped up in Infallible, becoming a big fan of Getaway and Mind Your Manners.

        The latter could have been engaged more in the review. It seemed less like honest critique and more like an opportunity to present the world an example of your heightened ability to be snarky.

        • Guest

          If you are replying to my quoting of “Not For You”, it was unnecessary snark. Invoking Matchbox Twenty really ticked me off, snark followed, which by internet standards was pretty tame.

          As I was finishing my comment it popped into my head, and it felt appropriate at the time

          I am sure “Lightning Bolt” will not be as cherished by me as “Backspacer” is, but it has some solid songs, including the ones you referenced.

          • TanoFan

            It was directed at the author of the review- my bad for responding to your comment. I actually enjoyed tge Not For You reference.

      • music1234

        Well said – critics just seem to be extremely hard on PJ because they want the second coming of TEN — People, IT AINT GONNA HAPPEN!!! Once these so called, “music critics” can understand that – I think we can all just sit back and appreciate what this band has done – which is, put out really good relevant to the times music time and time again. Stay true to their beliefs and true to their core fans – and then put it all together to give back tot he fans with just EPIC concerts while not charging too much at the same time.

        Did I want more as a Pearl Jam nut job fan? I am not sure – I think this is what I expected: 5 songs that I will not “skip” via IPOD (Manners, Swallowed, Lightning Bolt, Yellow Moon, Fathers Son), 3 songs that I will listen too in the right mood (Pendulum, Sirens, Future Days) and 3 songs that I will listen to a few times a year (Getaway, Let the Records Play, Sleeping by myself) – –

        This is what you call an Alternative Rock album, a lot for everyone that enjoys good music. You get more out of Lightning Bolt than you did out of the last Kings of Leon album, Strokes album, and Killers album. Instead of bashing Pearl Jam for not giving up TEN PART 2 – How about turning or angst of not so good rock and roll towards the next generation to save rock – they are the ones that are letting our youth down and continue to let us down. Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters can only keep doing what they are doing for a few more years – then who do we turn too? Jack White? Hipster Indie rockers? Rock and Roll is dying ever so slowly, and this critic is bashing 5 50 year olds for not giving them VS. 20 years later? Did the NBA critics bash Jordan when he couldnt dunk from the free throw line at age 37 when he was on Washington? No, they were just happy he was playing and still producing…well Pearl Jam is still playing and producing at an EXTREMELY high ALL STAR Level. Get a CLUE.

        • piratejam

          Awesome post. Loved the Jordan analogy at the end.

  • keithjam

    You obviously don’t like ballads. The entire album is great led by Getaway, Sirens and Infallible. Only one song is a misfire and that is Swallowed Whole. Everyone wants a bands 10th album to be as relevent as their 1st, 2nd or 3rd. That is impossible!!!!

  • Hank

    Vitalogy was released in 1994.

  • JJ

    When you get the year of an album released wrong you concede your credibility as a writer. Good luck entering the irrelevant world of the blogger.

  • skirtsteak

    This reviewer is an idiot to judge an album by one listen.

  • javiselerrante

    stick to agriculture and the such…