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The Blue Elephant - why this site was created

Photo Essay- Perceptions - my story

Photo Essay- Soft Glass - my thoughts while creating this site

I almost drowned in the sky today- PTSD imagery

If water ran up

Art Work- Drawings by the author

Art Work

Art Work


The Blue Elephant

This story was not written by the author of this website. It is a universal story describing how many survivors cope with sexual assault. It was written by Lisa Mapes.


"Throughout the past few years of trying my damnedest to survive; I’ve had a secret that I’ve been hiding. Holding onto it closely as if inside of it is locked the secret of whom I once was. For some reason, I cling to it, trailing behind the guilt of what happened one day of my life. I’ve felt the urge to name it, and keep it hiding under my pillow, a huge secret, bigger then an elephant, that god forbid, someone should see, if I forget to make my bed. At first I called it the assault. It was a fairly ambiguous name. It didn’t allow one to suspect more then maybe I had been in a fight with someone outside of a nighclub or that I’d maybe been the victim of a purse snatcher. Then as time progressed, It seemed as if it had grown an attachment to me, and at the same time it was changing form. It was becoming me, or was I becoming it? Maybe it was changing me into something I did not want to be. I was stressed, anxiety began to fill my days and nights. I was afraid to be alone, watching every shadow, terrified of what might be lurking around the corner. Everlasting fear grew that I’d have another elephant thrust upon me, and I would die from its enormous weight crushing my now frail soul. With utter contempt for it was doing to me; I held on tight. It was mine; this huge horror I had been hiding. Despite it being forced upon me, in the middle of the night, maybe in some dark alley way, or perhaps in my own bedroom; I had somehow allowed it to become my possession. I did not want this elephant anymore. It had become my burden. I no longer existed, and I had suddenly become what happened to me that one moment in time. I had let the elephant overcome me. I was no longer able to look forward. One day I realized the elephant had grown so large, I couldn’t hide it under my pillow anymore. Suddenly it was appearing everywhere in my life. Why was it following me? Why did I not leave the burden lie for with whom it belonged; the perpetrator? Why did it have it follow me to work, out with friends or even to the grocery store? I couldn’t hold my head high, I was filled with shame. I wanted to hide at home in order to keep my secrets to myself. Surreptitiously, I’d hoped that I could hide in my closet away from my secrets grasping for seconds of freedom from my shame; or that maybe I could lock them away in a cupboard to revisit another time. Something needed to change. Years of carrying this elephant had begun to take its toll on my life. I had realized that the only way I was to be autonomous, was to let go of this elephant. I had to accept it wasn’t my burden to carry. This burden was my perpetrators, and even if he wasn’t willing to acknowledge his responsibility. I had recognized this was not my affliction. I decided one day, to leave the elephant at pound. It was not mine to carry around. I was able to walk without guilt, because I’d forgiven myself for the pain I had allowed myself to suffer when I thought that I was to blame for this affliction. I would allow myself to mourn. I realize that my life will never be the same having carried an elephant so long. I will never be the same person, nor do I think I’d want to be. I’ve discovered how strong I really am; because it takes a lot of strength to carry around a blue elephant."
This story © Lisa Mapes 2005.



A poem from the ARTS and HEALING page of Rape is...

"You become a collector -
paper masks and painted faces.
Watch others carefully for tips -
how to mold disguises accurately.
This one's mouth. That one's eyes.
I wonder if other people do this too
accumulate all that armor,
wrap it around themselves like medieval knights.

My faces, without voices.
I had to learn how to put on a smile,
forget the girl that died inside.
These new faces were made for me
Who did it. Whose touch. Whose molding hand,
created a wardrobe of faces
that never match my own.







You fear a cage because you have known dignity.

Your chains are in your heart.

You must free yourself.

- Apostle


Past the mission, behind the prison tower...I once knew how to get out [sic]

Tori Amos


"Someone was hurt before you.....beaten before you; humiliated before you; raped before you; yet someone survived." Maya Angelou


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead


"There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you." Maya Angelou


"you may trod me down in history with your twisted bitter lies you may trod me in the very dirt but still, like dust, i'll rise" Maya Angelou


"Most men live lives of quiet desperation"



"The thing about having something hidden in your past is that you spend every minute of the future building a wall that makes the monsters harder to see. You convince yourself that the wall is sturdy and thick, and one day, when you wakeup and the horrible thing does not immediately jump into your mind, you give yourself the freedom to pretend that it is well and truly gone. Which only makes it that much more painful when something like it happens again, and you learn the concrete wall is really as transparent as glass and twice as fragile."- Jodi Piccoult Keeping faith



"Darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." Christ / Martin Luther King jr.

"Be who you are and say what you feel 'cause people who mind don't matter, and people who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss

"The damaged are dangerous, they know they can survive." Anonymous


"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest--a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its
beauty." Albert Einstein, What I Believe, 1930


"I don't know if this will help, but here's a little parable that I'm paraphrasing...

A woman's walking along, minding her own business, when she falls into a hole. The sides are too steep & she can't climb out.

A doctor walks by & she calls up, "Hey, can you help me - I'm stuck down here" The doctor writes out a prescription, throws it into the hole & walks on.

A priest walks by & she calls up, "Please, I'm down here & need help" The priest writes out a prayer, tosses it down to her & walks on.

Next a survivor walks by & she calls out "Please, I'm stuck & I can't get out". The survivor jumps down with her. The woman cries "What did you do, now we're both stuck down here"
"Yes," said the survivor, "but I've been down here before & I know the way out."

*jumps down into the hole*
You're not down here alone. We'll all help you out."
A survivor




For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8



If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster. Isaac Asimov


Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.

John Muir

Beth could not reason upon or explain the faith that gave her courage and patience to give up life, and cheerfully wait for death. Like a confiding child, she asked no questions, but left everything to God and nature, Father and Mother of us all, feeling sure that they, and they only, could teach and strengthen heart and spirit for this life and the life to come.

Louisa May Alcott

in Little Women, chapter 36


Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey! Barbara Hoffman

If you were my sister- from survivors to survivors

Thank you to my family for being very loving and supportive. (Mom, Dad, Sister etc.)


I love you.


I would like this website to remain online indefinitely should anything happen to me.


About the kitty on the home page:

That is a drawing of the cat Tenacity. Tenacity is a very regal looking siamese sidewalk cat who happens to be my kitty's mother. She was the most dignified and muscular cat I've ever known. She had beautiful blue eyes and eyebrows that formed the letter 'w' when she was worried. We fed her while she was pregnant and still living in the back yard. I have a feeling she had a very hard life. She snuck into the house one night and in the morning my mother let her back out. She kept trying to get back inside rather urgently. Later my mother heard noises from the closet and thought it was a mouse. She went to clean it out and found Luna. A single, perfect kitten. Tenacity got back into the house. She was determined that Luna grow up to become an inside cat instead of a sidewalk kitty. Everytime she went outside she hid Luna behind a peice of furniture we couldn't move until she came back to feed her. I was the only person she would let pick Luna up. When Luna was five weeks old we realized she had NEVER been outside in her whole life. We put her down in the grass and she was terrified. Her mother marched right over, picked her up and carried her back inside. Eventually it came time for Luna to find a home. I couldn't bear to see them seperated so I adopted Luna and took her to my apartment. I don't think Tenacity ever really got over not having Luna's constant companionship but they had weekends and summers. I put her image on the site because it takes alot of persistance to speak out about rape, advocate for victim's rights and to heal. I think of her as a protective presence. She was very strong but she never bit or scratched anyone. She just wanted to survive and be a Mom. When I was struggling to become a survivor myself she would come and visit me and sit with me. Not everyone was nice to her or understood her because she didn't quite understand what humans wanted from her. What she did understand was suffering and how to prevail against the odds and the set backs. I want more from my life than to learn how not to upset the furniture. I want to make it better for the survivors who must make their way after me. I think that's what most of us want.



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