Taped Stories #2

Taped Stories #2:

“We lived in this place in the countryside. I had a son and he was about 9 years old. There was a man who was a photographer and he wanted to take picture of my son. I let him but I had a another son that was the age of 7 who was a talker. Eventually, the man wanted my son to dress up in suits and stuffs. I finally said no and I stopped him. That man own a store and when my son see him, he gets a bad vibe from him. I don’t know if it was but I felt something. I think I have prevented something.” – April 12, 2017 (Was shared orally and retold by me)

Day 13 Reflection

This week has been very long and tiring. I woke up at 7am and fell back asleep for my 9am alarm. Turns out, I have turned it for some reason. So I missed my morning class but went to work. Two people mention about my post and one of them hugged me and said that I am brave and to keep going. The other person told me she have read my post and will submit her story. On social media, people have started to share my post and comment with positive words. All of this is good, but I am still not sure how to respond or how to react to all this support. The more people know, the more I want to hide. But it is too late, it is out there now. It is my truth.

My father messaged me today on social media and I panicked. He asked about something else but I forgot that he was on social media. He can see and read my post. I hoped he does not see it. I really hope he doesn’t see it. I guess I am still not ready for my parents to know yet. But I am ready to go home and hangout with my family.

I am still not comfortable going out alone outside of campus still but I am very use to the tape now. There is less irritation now since I have been using the same tape longer and having the tape on only when I am with people. Lately, I been answering less when people talk to me. I don’t make the same effort anymore to grab my notebook and answer. I can’t really keep up with the conversation and so I only answer when I need to. I think I am starting to feel the stress and graduation stuff. I really need to focus and work hard for the next 4 weeks. For the tape, only 6 more days.

 

Why Duck Tape?

Many people have asked me why the duck branded duct tape? On the first week, one student said that she will ask me the next day why I have duck tape over my mouth. I think she thought It was only a one day silences. But then she figured it out.  She said “It’s because they don’t speak about it…It’s conceptual.” I smiled on the inside because she was correct. So why the duct tape?

The duct tape over my mouth symbolized my silences. Silences from society and cultural norm. Silences from shame and embarrassment.

The duct tape over my mouth for 19 days represent the 19 years that I was silent and the years that I did not think my experiences was sexual abuse. It was only then, after 19 years later, that I have started to share. And now I feel like it is need more than ever.

The duct tape show my visibility as a victim of sexual abuse. It is to point me out among my peers, friends and family that someone they know is a victim. And that they are not alone.

The duct tape is used to symbolized danger and restriction.

So why am I doing this?

Read my Story Follow me on Facebook.

Day 12 Reflection

Today was all about finishing up a personal statement for an award. The paper is not even for a class. After walking to work and finishing up some projects, I went right into the personal paper that was due at 5pm. Writing and expressing my thought is my weakness and so when I was finishing up, I really needed to read my paper out loud so I can edit, but I couldn’t. I only moved by mouth to say the words but with no sound. I caught myself whispering and I stopped myself. By the time for my late class, I was wiped out. I only did minimal work and left as soon as I can. Only 4 more weeks of school.

As I walked to work in the morning, a group of students in a booth asked me about the taped. I handed some note cards to three of them and continue walking. They said to come buy some popcakes and I gave them a thumbs up while walking. I meant to do an Ok sign but I was in a hurry. I always have a thumbs up and so it was automatic. Lately, people have been asking me how long am I going to wear the tape, or how many more days. Even I lost count too. I hold up 8 finger but I think I did that yesterday, so that means today was suppose to be 7 days left.

I worked later in the afternoon helping students with softwares such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator but I emailed my professor how I can help without talking. Eventually, we just started texting each other because it was easier compare to writing down everything. I still went to work and finished that personal statement. I saw a student’s hand rise and I look across making eye contact and gesture to her if she had a question. I usually help her but this time she said “..ummmmmmmmmm……….I was going to ask about the softwares …….” Another student next to her jumped in to help her. I thought I was going to be able to help but I guess not. I thought about writing down instructions when a student needed help but that was not realistic. People don’t have that much patience.

Again in my late class, I have to communicate with my group. At this point, I just work alone at the moment and only write if it was necessary for me to ask. Sometimes I get too comfortable and I forget that people can’t read my mind. And they would remind me again that they don’t understand my gesture and muffled sound. They asked how many days and was impressed when I had my 8 fingers up. They said that they can not go on without talking even for a day. A classmate said she have to talk. I was wondering if they knew what I was doing this for, even though I had given them the note card the first week. I knew that some people will not look at my website or even read the notecard but It feels strange that people praise me and are impressed with my silences without knowing the real meaning. It’s not about how long I can go for without talking, its about me physically silencing myself. Haven’t they stop to think about why am I doing this? Why this topic?

I think today confirm somethings about the taped stories project. I think people don’t understand what I am really trying to do and what I am asking of them. I thought that if people are curiosity enough, then they will search through my website. I thought that my family and friends will do that but I was wrong. And so for them, I finally wrote about the symbolic of the taped on here and Facebook, and many people responded.

My sisters finally read my story and posts, which I have given them my note cards and provided my website right when I started. I understand that I didn’t tell them much but I was hoping they look into the website, which I felt explain most it. But today, just a couple hours ago, my sister told me that she read my story. My sister came in into my bedroom and wanted to talk. Her eyes were red. I think she cried when she read my story. She wanted to know more and asked how was I doing. I avoided her by giving her a thumbs up. She open her arms and said she want to hug me but I moved away. I didn’t want to get emotional too. For the first time of these past week, I was thankful that I couldn’t talk because I didn’t want to talk about it now. I knew there was going to be many questions but I was not ready yet. She said that the other sisters are talking about it on Facebook messenger and I briefly looked at the messages. And I comment “oh, so yall all finally read it lmao…” And then not even 15 minute or so, another sister dropped by and said that she finally read my story (she was the one who said that she do not want to read my story yet because it may change her view on me). She said she didn’t know. She asked more about the story and I didn’t really give her an answer. I didn’t know if I should tell her that the sister that was with me that one night was her. If she reads this, then she will know. It seems like she forgotten.

Now, one of my friend is texting me saying she read my story and some of my reflection posts. She apologized for make a joke about making the decision since I can’t talk. I told her that I know she doesn’t mean any harm and that I understand that my tape and not talking may have been uncomfortable for people and so people have to joke about it.

As my days of silences are coming to an end, I am getting ready for the weekend, where I will go home and spend some time with my family. In some of my first post here before I started, I talked briefly of what I fear most of this projects. It is the reaction, response from my peers, friends and family. And if there is no reaction, that too is terrifying.

 

Day 11 Reflection

I went to school with my sisters at 7am to do some projects. There are many things going on now since school is ending. I have projects, research papers and being on top of graduation fees and such. Today, one student asked “Is there a silence day going on today?” I was a couple feet away already, rushing to work on things, I turned around and shook my head and turn to leave. It was so fast and it was an awkward situation to walk up the stairs again to give her my note card. It was the best I could do at this point. At least I answer her.

Around 9am, I went to purchase some art supplies located downtown. An older lady working there commented about the tape. She also said if I had any question, I can ask her. I grab some items and brought it to the counter. Before I left, I gave her my note card. As I packed my items and put my wallet away. She told me a story. Her story of preventing something. I used sign language to thank her for sharing and left. I was not expecting for anyone to share right at that moment. And so I did not really know how to respond. Honestly, I am angry, uncomfortable, and really reflect back on my stories when I hear other’s stories. I will be putting her story in the taped stories menu.

From the responds from people so far, I think people don’t understand what I am doing entirely. I didn’t expect for people to share their story with me right at that moment. Or maybe even having accessed to it. Some people have asked about the website and what they were suppose to do. I noticed most people asked when it is appropriate such as during class or when I am actually interacting with peers or staffs.

 

Day 10 Reflection

It been hard these past mornings and so my day started out late again. I still feel very trapped in my head. I can’t really express myself entirely. And I missed that part. Lately, I feel like I am losing sight of my project. I try not to get it to me but I haven’t had any submitted stories since I started.  I knew from the start that this might happened and so I am ready for that.

My sister and I went to get boba drinks downtown. A man saw us walking by and he shouted, ” come on, why are you like this. You are covering up your beautiful face.” My sister and I just smiled and kept walking. My hand was on my note cards ready to give it out but I didn’t. I hesitated. His face tell me a different story. I didn’t feel comfortable to give him my card. I don’t think he really cared. He just want to say something. I knew people can say all sorts of things and so I was prepared. But I don’t think I can walk in public if I was alone. When I got to the boba place, the lady said that she just wants to rip off my tape. My sister had to do the explaining again. I gave her my note card and then typed what I wanted on a memo pad phone and showed her. She understood and laugh. She ask what size and I pointed to the cup in the front showing the size. She said she will shared the note card.

During my late class, I think I can start to feel a classmate’s frustration with me. I tried to point and write and draw. I muffled out sound as if I was talking. I think she understood but I can tell it wasn’t fun for her to do guessing games with me. Sometimes, I wish they can see what I am thinking. It is also not fun for me to communicate by nodding for yes and shaking my head for no. It feels like I am a child that doesn’t know what I want. I notice that people are avoiding me now because I can’t have conversation with them. Or maybe I am avoiding them?

After my late class, my sisters and I went to the store to buy a few things at Micheal’s. A lady that worked there asked if I was ready to pay, I nodded. She asked about the tape and I gave her my note card after I purchase the items. She was the first person outside of school and home to ask about the tape. She had trusting eyes and her questions didn’t have any assumptions or overreaction. This experiences felt different even though it was brief.

People have been asking about how many more days and I show them with my fingers. They would be impressed and say that they can never do it. I just smile and walk away. Only 8 more days.

Day 9 Reflection

I walked to my morning class and then off to work. I was in my work office the hold day until my late class. I was still able to give out my note cards because there are always people that I haven’t met or interact with at work. When I got to work, I notice that there was people in the front desk but my coworker wasn’t there. I couldn’t communicate so I went to find my other coworkers and tapped on her shoulder. I pointed to the front desk and she understood. She wasn’t working but she went to help the students. One of the student asked about the tape and I gave my cards to all 3 of the students. My coworker explain that I was doing this for awareness of sexual assault. I couldn’t correct her but I felt that my card explain well enough that it is specifically sexual abuse.

Around 6pm, the tape really starts to irritated and so I hurried back home to peel off the tape to take a break. Today, I avoided most eye contact as I walked by strangers. I was the one ignoring them now. People are still taking a longer look or not really looking too. I wonder if that was how I was before the tape. I feel like I am starting to forget how I usually interact with others and how I talked to people. I think I have been isolating myself more, especially at work and home because I can’t talk to people. I am sort of a people person. I get energy from people and so just being back at school was already starting to feel comforting and supportive.

Day 7 Reflection 

Today felt like a recovery day. I slept until noon. I didn’t go out today It was very refreshing, yet tiring. I had a chance to cook lunch and dinner as well relaxing until the evening. Today was a recovery day for my skin. My upper lips is still a little sensitive but the little time I got with no tape should helped a bit.

I was hoping that I would be able to go home today but my sister didn’t tell me that she have already left and then came back to the apartment. Anyways, I want to see my family and see what their response will be with duck tape over my mouth. I guess I will have to wait until next weekend.

I have forgotten about my project today since I didn’t have tape over my mouth the whole day. I start singing and commenting on something but I stopped myself. This is the weekend and it is quite different from the weekdays. I think it will be hard again on the first few days for the second week. But I am ready now. Today mark the 7th day of my silence performance.

Day 8 Reflection

Today was a slow day, but I did go out to do laundry. I knew that if I went out to do laundry, I might see some of my cousins or elderly folks that know my parents. When we got to the laundromat, we saw a cousin. She yelled out in surprise when she saw me. She asked why am I like this. I couldn’t answer because of the tape but my sisters did. She asked some more questions about how long or how do I eat. My sisters answered while I contemplated to give her the note card. After about 15 minute, she asked my sister regarding my tape and silence again and so I gave her the note card. She gave it back to me after reading it but I gesture her to keep it. The other strangers ignored me or only had a second look with curiosity. And then more elders that know my parents came too, I just avoid eye contact because it was going to be complicated for my sisters.

Because I have become silent, I became an observer. I had some time to reflect on how I interact with others. I think my silence had made me a little closed and gloomy. I am not my usually self or maybe I am usually this way? Now that I have a week with the tape, it is starting to become like a chore or a burden. Once Monday comes, it will be different because I will be at school with friends, fellow peers and professors who supports my performance. 

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