A Fate Worse Than Death
CW: rape, intimate partner
When a friend sent one of Elyssa’s artwork to me via Instagram, I was instantly captivated and connected to the visuals she produces and the story ingrained within them. Elyssa, an artist based in London whose work ranges from portraiture to comic strips, centres her work on trying to instigate social change regarding feminism and multiculturalism. After seeing the initial art sent to me, and reading the powerful statement along with it (see below), I endeavoured to look through her page, and fell deeper in love with her works. I reached out to Elyssa, and as a survivor herself, she kindly provided works to LCA to feature on our website.
The first of her works we will be sharing is ‘A Fate Worse Than Death’ - a self-portrait Elyssa created in the wake of sexual violence.
Her words that she published alongside the artwork follow:
I made this painting as an expression of all that I was feeling in the wake of my rapes in February 2017.
They called everything I knew into question: my faith, my purpose, my freedom, even the value of living. They caused me more pain than I have ever felt in my life. Worse than any loss. Worse than any heartbreak. I think the pain was worse still because I was raped by a man I had loved…
I questioned where was the God that was meant to love and protect me? Why had he allowed this? How could he have let me be sacrificed on the alter of sexual violence?
All my feelings were heightened because of the culture that surrounds rape. Because of the messages that girls and women are taught, that is it better to die than to be raped…
I found my answers by the time I completed the painting. I realised that rape is Not worse than death. Because rape is not final. It is not the end of your life. It is an event in your life. It affects you and it changes you but it is not you. It was not your choice and it wasn’t your action. It was someone else’s choice and action, and that is unfair. You have to live with the pain and the consequences of somebody else’s choice that you didn’t want and it is so unjust. The injustice of rape is angering in a deep, guttural way. Rape causes me to burn with anger. But it will not conquer me. Just as new buds spring up from ground destroyed, I refuse to give up, although I was flattened. I refuse to feel shame. I refuse to be quiet. I refuse to keep secrets as to who raped me. I am blossoming and ultimately I will win.
You will never see a person so strong, brave or resilient as one who has had to surmount such serious obstacles. I am incredible.
All credit to Elyssa Rider. Find her website at http://www.elyssarider.com/