A Week Afterward

It has been a full week after my silence performance. I was very excited to have my voice back on midnight of April 21. In the beginning, I was hesitant to speak. I am still limiting myself even after the tape has been removed. It took some time to switch back on to talking again. My throat starts to strain after having long conversations. I wonder if that was what I usually sound like before. I am fine now and I am completely comfortable again. I was exhausted and was glad that this was over. It was tough but I did it.

I been wondering if people understood my mission. I thought about the times when I did not give out the notecards to certain people. Should I have tried to even though I did not feel comfortable to do so. I learn that I was still not ready to tell my parents and grandparents. I think that I am still processing this project and my experiences. I am proud to go through this project with many support. I feel relieved that I have let out my truth and knowing that I challenge people to reflect and even speak out. I still think about that little girl sometimes. I hoped this has reached to her family somehow. I hope they know that she is not alone.

I picked up my first book that discussed sexual abuse a few years ago. It was a random book that I scanned over. I remember one particular story of a mother abusing her male child. The child grew up and he stated that it was mutual. I remember reading about a man getting raped in a public bathroom. He stated that it happened so fast and that he thought that this will never happened to him. I remember reading a post on a video where the daughter stated of a sexual mutual relationship with her father. Sexual abuse is very tricky because most time the abuser is a trusted individual and older. And the victim is usually younger or just a child. Sometimes I wonder, why people become abuser. I feel that we need to talk about sex and sexuality. Our education need to do a better job that explains how to protect ourselves. We also need to discussed about our patriarchal society and power and oppression. I think we still got a long way but it starts with us first.

I am still collecting stories for another week. During this time, I will still be reflecting and looking over all the writings on my blog and sticky notes to people. And so I challenge you all to reflect on any injustice incident or any experiences that made you feel uncomfortable. And when you are ready, share with us your story.

I am Ready

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Day 19 Refection (Last Day)

Today was my last day. This was it. It been a long and short journey. There was time when I wish I haven’t thought of this project and then there was time when I thought that I can do this longer than 19 days. I could get use to it. But eventually there is an end to everything and it was today for the duct tape. I am content and excited to move on to the next journey. As I am getting more submission of stories, I am excited to work on narration of the stories on campus. Our stories will be heard. Thank you all for following me and supporting me throughout this journey. Really, without you all, I probably wouldn’t have a good experiences with this project.

I have been writing less on my mini notebook because I am communicating more on through texting and writing on scrap papers and sticky notes. These past 19 day, I have only went out to restaurants a few time. I usually use an app to buy food on campus. But off campus, I am accompanied by family or friends and I would text them what I want. Today in my late class, a classmate ask if this was the last day and I nodded. She wanted some feedback on one of class project. She told me that I should just talk because it was my last day. I shooked my head and wrote down on my mini notebook of questions and comments. This was the best I can do for her.

As I walked with a classmate to her car, many people were walking around because of Thursday night market. There was a lot of high school students and older people. One student mentioned the tape right as I passed them. I kept walking because that was not a good time to have an interaction in the middle of a crosswalk. And I am pretty good with ignoring people now. I just look straight on now but I am aware of people’s stares. My classmate said that she was use to my duct tape now and so when she saw an older man just staring for a long time, she was surprised. I tried to use my hands to gesture that I am pretty use to it too. I am getting comfortable with not talking. I was listening if people were willing to talk about anything.

I am hurt when people did ignored me or maybe that was just how I saw it. Earlier in the week, I was in a class of 6 and the instructor asked person to person of their input on this discussion. I wrote on my mini whiteboard of each questions she asked but she had called out to the other students. I was surprised and embarrassed as I erased my comments on my whiteboard. Today in my late class, a classmate who was in my group project showed his work to the other group classmate sitting right behind me and then left. I ignored him but he only called out the other group member. I did not have a good relationship with him but I had to tell myself that I didn’t really care anyways.

With this project, there was so many things that was difficult like actually walking with the tape and communicating with family, friends, and etc. At some point, I did have to tell myself why I was doing this project. The communication wasn’t what I dislike most. It was because I was sticking out in a crowd. I really did not like to stand out that much especially with something that isn’t suppose to be on my face. But I made it. I took a long leap and it feels good to have come this far. And of course, if I did not have support for this, I would of never followed through, so from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Special thank you to…

Bao Xiong, Jer Xiong, Julie Xiong, Khou Xiong, Karly Derosa, Bill Lee

Professor Joshua Olivera, Professor Lauren Ruth, Professor Rachel Middleman, Sierra Diamond and class Arts 495

Cross-Cultural Leadership Center family and Katie Peterson

Strong brave soul who shared their story

 

 

Day 18 Reflection

I tried to avoid eye contact with strangers as they passed by. I am aware that they are aware of the tape. I just look straight on and look down without smiling eyes. I feels like I am back to square one with the tape. I guess when the ending day gets closer, the more I want it to end. This has not been an easy thing to do. When needing to eat, drink, cough, sneeze, I have to take off the duct tape. Luckily, I been taking allergy pills to maintain sneezing and stuffy nose to a minimum. But I think tomorrow, I may not be so lucky anymore. As I am writing this at 11pm, I can hardly breath through my nose. I been using older duct tape to reduce stickiness. At first is was easy but it became painful as my skin really clinged onto the tape when peeling. When I don’t have the tape, I constantly have to remember not to talk since it is natural for me to do so, even after several days.

A sister help me take these pictures by a roundabout near school and a car drove by with a man taking a second look and then laughing. It bothered me that a stranger laugh at me for having tape over my mouth. I told my sister and she said it was probably because she was taking pictures so far, she assumed that he have seen her and then me as he passed by within seconds. I told her that I doubt he was laughing because of that. I guess from that experiences, I am feeling weak and can’t take too much longer of the project. I am really trying to finish on Thursday with a high head. I also been avoiding going to other offices now to pay for fees and etc. I am waiting to be invisible again.

Later, I was helped my sister with her project with some video recording. It was hard to explain what I was doing for the recording. When I was trying to get some room tone, I gesture them with my index figure to the lip and held my hand up with figures flicking up to show that I am counting as passing seconds. I showed her the room tone term through my phone. But she still didn’t understand and so I text her. She still didn’t get it and eventually, I started to show example with my muffled voice and even answering her through that, which she understood by my tone and sound. Sometimes when they ask me a question regarding photography, I just don’t answer because it is a complex answer.

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I am tired but I am glad to have come this far. I like to thank those who have submitted their stories. They are truly courageous and their story will be heard. Once again, thank you, family and friends for supporting me. I really grateful to my mentors, professors and classmates who have really encourage me to follow through. Only one more day left.

Taped Stories #4

Taped Stories #4:

I was 5 years old when I was raped. My memory of it has always been in the back of my mind, it’s hard not to always think about it. Although I don’t recall every piece of it, unconsciously blocking parts of it from my memory, I remember feeling that my childhood was taken away from me. My parents, brothers and I were renting a room at my dad’s friends house. From the time I was born, my family and I rented or stayed in places temporarily until we found an apartment. He was the son of the family we were staying at. He was in his 20’s and was asked by my parents to be my babysitter, trusting him to take care of me. How ironic is that? I never noticed the lingering gazes or the fondling or the amount of time he would keep me on his leg, bouncing me, while enjoying the view. I was a kid who never new what the word sex meant or anything intimate. I was still focused on barbies and dress-up. One day, my mother and father had to do some errands and left me in his care. At first, it felt like any other day until he led me to his room. His room was dark and had a large bed with tall headboards. I remember going, him laying me down and tying me up. My tiny arms were held by rope that was attached to the headboard. Blank. I don’t remember what happened. Blank. What was happening? Was I screaming? Blank.

I remember my parents calling for me and when they heard nothing they automatically got defensive and protective.

I remember my dad knocking on the door

I remember my dad kicking the door.

i remember seeing the light when the door opened.

Blank.

I remember going to the police station and telling them my story. They seemed too preoccupied to care about a child getting raped. They still took down my information.

Blank.

I have never asked my parents about what exactly happened to him. I do know that he is in jail. I also don’t want to bring it up to them because opening that wound will bring back all the pain to my parents, something I only wish to have for myself.

I do want to see him. I want to face him and tell that he did not break me forever. I want him to see that I am happy. I want him to pay. Although I have met others who have forgiven those who raped, abused or assaulted them, I can not. Some people may agree, some may not but it took me a very long time to come to this conclusion.

My name is Kimberly Gomez and I was raped. I say my name because it was, and still is, very hard to tell people about my story. I don’t want pity or sadness from anyone. I do want to be more open about my story because I know if I speak up, others will see it.” – April 19, 2017

Taped Stories #3

Taped Stories #3:

“I was probably 13-14 years old when it happened. I was infatuated with the boy next door and so I let myself get involved with him sexually. I trusted him and I thought he liked me the way I did for him. I thought maybe all this playing around, messing around, was a way of expressing our feelings. I was naive. I was proven wrong when it turned out that he informed about what he did with me to his friends. He never came out and told me explicitly but I knew he told his friends about me. One night, I hung out with him and his friends and his friend took me to a dark part of the backyard. I got carried away, thinking too naively and innocently. I thought this was just part of flirting, yes. But he tried to force me. When he tried to get me to kiss him and do more, I refused. He tried to force me, pushing me against the wooden fence, trying to pull my pants down. I felt his half-hard dick against my backside, I felt his overwhelming strength and I knew I was too weak to fight back physically. I was terrified and I kept refusing and whispering, “You don’t want to do this, no, please, you don’t want to do this,” but he kept saying, “I know you want this, I know you do this.” I was terrified but I couldn’t scream. That would bring attention to him and his friends, and I didn’t know if they would’ve helped. Luckily, I’m so very lucky, that he let go and didn’t force me any further. But one of the most horrifying parts of this whole thing is that I didn’t even say anything about it afterwards. I couldn’t. I never confronted him or his friends. I was just so ashamed of what happened, how I let myself get carried away, how I let him treat me like trash and pass me around to his friends.” – April 18, 2017

Day 17 Reflection

Today was the third last day. Only 2 more day left on Wednesday and I will have been silent for 19 days with tape over my mouth. I think I been telling people that I only have 1 day left but it’s actually 2. The dates is throwing me off because I started on the 2nd of April and so I would end on the 20th of April. Sometimes, I forget that people are still seeing me for the first time and so they looked like they want to know more but I am not that shy and humble person anymore. I don’t have time to run over and give them a note card anymore. It is bad timing now. If I don’t interact with the people, then it is more likely that I will not give them a card even though they looked curiosity and briefly mentioned it as I walk by.

I realized that when I am alone outside and not walking to places. My fears creep up on me. When I walk, I feel like people will have less time to actually see me and think of cruel ways to harrased me. But if I hung out by the library, waiting for my sister especially at night. I start getting all these crazy imaginations as cars passed by and hearing loud male students talking.

I still find it very humorous as I interact with other fellow students. Earlier, before going to my late class, a student came to talk to me about a group research paper in another class. I was eating a snack and so I didn’t have tape. She talked and I nodded but then I gesture her to text me. And then she said “oh, you can’t talk?” And I nodded. She said she will email me instead and I waved good bye. I guess people didn’t think I will do this for so long. Later that night, I was grabbing some late dinner with a friend. He would say something and if it was a yes or maybe or no question, I would answer. But if it wasn’t, I just text him while he was driving. I waited for a red light to show him but that didn’t work. And so I kept silent. He have told me that he actually enjoyed the quietness of my company.

I am pretty happy that this project is coming towards a closing for my part. Even if people did not share their stories, it is alright. I am just glad I did it this far and of course with many thanks to professors, classmates, mentors, friends and family. I hope I have impacted them in some ways.

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Day 16 Reflection

I wasn’t ready for today. There is just too much to do with little time. I woke up and I didn’t have any energy and motivation to get up today. I am pretty stressed out now. I didn’t finish most of my homework and the thought of another day with tape over my mouth tired me out. I was drain from doing nothing. And now there a lot of things piled up. I didn’t go to my 2 classes in the morning and afternoon and work. I didn’t feel too good today knowing that I have missed classes and work. But I am feeling little better at night. I am really going to focus on meditation before bed and putting my cell phone away. In that way, I would have more sleep that my body and mind demands.

This project came with a lot of uncertainties but I knew that it will be hard to get people to access and submit their story. Part of this was to challenge people to take a step forward on writing and reflecting their story. And so I understand that if people don’t submit then that is alright. I respect people’s decision on sharing or not sharing. I have given them an option. And so this means if my performance of being silence have been impactful or not. Also, I think the best way to get this out was through collaboration and letting a lot of people know through social media and distribution of my note card. I realized that my note card does not explain exactly what I am doing but it makes perfect sense to my silence. Even when there is visibility of something, there isn’t always a direct and clear message. And so I think this project came with a lot of challenge in itself. I was the only person doing the silence performance and I am only able to impacted those who I interact with daily like friends, family and classmates. These are the people I cared for and so it was my way of telling them that this happened to me and that they are not alone. This was my way to bring this topic up. Only 3 more days left.

Day 15 Reflection

Today was already day 15 , only 4 more days until I end my silences. It been a long journey and I still have a lot to process but I have learn a lot from this experiences. So many people supported me and cared a lot. I wasn’t ready for my parent and grandparents yet but it is a start. Again, I barely talk to my family, it was a very lazy day for me until I got back to my apartment. I think by tomorrow I will be more ready and active. I am emotionally drain and stressed out from projects and research papers. I feel like I am forgetting to do something. I wish school would end sooner. I hope to have my website continue running until next 2 weeks as I process and record voices. I hope to finish off strong.

Day 14 Reflection

I woke up forgetting about the project. Weekends is always so different. I went home and hung out. I didn’t do much besides watching movies on Netflix. I wanted to play with my brothers but they both are sick. Today, I couldn’t do it today. I went home without the tape. I couldn’t do it. It was too much for me. I am too afraid. I didn’t think this through. I didn’t talk at all though. I only answered with a “hmm” for I don’t know or “uh hm” for yes. I realized that I don’t actually talk that much at home. And that my family and I don’t really interact much. I could get away without talking at all to anyone at home for a full 12 hours. When they say to eat, I just go and eat. When mother said to clean up afterwards, I just did so without saying anything at all. It was only when my father came to talk directly to me that I have no choice but to answer. I didn’t tell them about what I was doing and so it would be hard to tell them then. And I thought that I couldn’t miss this chance because my father rarely talked to me. I couldn’t say no to this chance of bonding time. We talked about video recording and our family YouTube account. I tried to talk as less as possible and we only talked for 5 min before he left. I will make this exception only to my parents and grandmother. Turns out, I am not ready yet for them to know anything about the taped stories project.

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