As is the case with any regular news story, a team of six of us at the BDN didn’t know what, precisely, we would create when we set out to make what we’d call Proof.

We knew the online presentation, which launched June 25, would center on the issue of rape and sexual assault in Maine. We knew it would have a multimedia format similar to The New York Times’ Snow Fall or The Guardian’s Firestorm projects, which combine text, video, audio and graphics online to tell a story in a powerful, creative way.

But how would we write about a subject so often kept secret? We were documenting an issue, not an event, so what would the videos depict?

It wasn’t until we interviewed our first rape survivor, who used the pseudonym Louise, that we more fully understood our mission: To represent the many emotions associated with the experiences of sexual assault survivors, not just relate what happened to them. They expressed horror and pain, but they didn’t want the crime to define them.

So we set out to show that reality visually.

Learn more about how we did it — and our survivors’ response to Proof — by reading this column.

Avatar photo

Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda is the editor of Maine Focus, a team that conducts journalism investigations and projects at the Bangor Daily News. She also writes for the newspaper, often centering her work on domestic and...