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The Inspiration of Tori Amos

A Note from Shannon (President/Founder)

Pandora's Project was partly inspired by Tori Amos, a sexual violence survivor and the founder of RAINN, a US nationwide hotline for rape and abuse survivors (1-800-656-HOPE). When I was 19 years old and starting to come to grips with my own rape, it was the music of Tori Amos that brought me comfort.  If I felt painfully alone, I would listen to her Little Earthquakes album on repeat; there was nothing more comforting than feeling like someone understood. I started Pandora's at this time, as a way to reach out to others.

Looking back over my healing journey, one constant has been Tori Amos - always through her music, and later through her thoughtful, kind, and wise support. I first met Tori in 1998 when filming a segment for ABC News 20/20 (you can watch it on our press page). Since then, she has been an impetus, a sage, and an inspiration. She knows about Pandora's Project, refers rape and sexual abuse survivors to the message board, and asks me about it when we see each other.

Tori said in an interview several years ago that often healing is "about realizing, painfully, you've kept that voice inside yourself, locked away from even yourself. And you step back and see that your jailer has changed faces. You realize you've become your own jailer." That hit me hard, and I knew that while I was once a victim with no control over someone's choice to rape me, I was now the one in the driver's seat. I was a victim of rape, but I would only continue to be a victim of what happened if I allowed it. So I stopped letting it control me.


About the name "Pandora's Aquarium"

Our online support community, Pandora's Aquarium, is named after a song by Tori Amos of the same title. The lyrics in full can be found here. The song, to me, symbolizes the danger of silence after sexual abuse and rape. When we are silent, we drown.

Tori related "Pandora's Aquarium" to rape and sexual abuse in her book, Piece by Piece. In it, she says of the song:

"Even though there is a violation and a rape involved in my life, that story isn't my core. . . [Tori's friend] was molested by her father from age two through the age of seven, a nightmare that recalls the rape of Persephone and the betrayal by Persephone's father, Zeus, and her entire life has been devoted to healing the deepest, most invasive unseeable scar that one can ever have. She has truly made a journey through the depths....To see how incest can shred and divide a Being is the scariest thing I've witnessed in my life."

My hope is that Pandora's Aquarium will be a place where rape and sexual abuse survivors break the silence, tell their stories, heal those most invasive, unseeable of scars, and begin to live again. You don't have to be a victim, and it doesn't have to destroy you. There is a way out.

If you want to learn more about Tori Amos or see if she's performing in your area, check out her official website or Undented. You can also find Tori Amos music on Amazon.com. If you purchase music (or any other products) via this link, a portion of the sale will benefit Pandora's Project.


You know when you've cried and cried, and you really can't cry anymore, so you're very quiet? I started hearing the water, and Pandora - the last song on the record - came to me. She was sort of warning me that there are so many feelings under the rocks that I needed to turn into. She told me, 'You need to dive into this one, Tori, because your healing is in there. Once you go, it's a whole new journey, but you've got to metaphorically leave this little dock and come with me to find out what's really in this ocean of feelings.' So I did.
-Tori Amos, on Pandora's Aquarium