Thursday, May 16, 2013

project dx/dt

April 9th an idea was born-- one whose effects have changed my life. On that day, a fellow classmate, Nancy, emailed me telling me her story about sexual assault (in response to my facebook post/previous blog post) and asked me if I wanted to get involved in a project she had in mind.

Little did we know, what we were getting ourselves into. Even more, how it would change our lives.

When you open up about being sexually violated you brace yourself for a plethora of responses from silence, awkward random stories that have nothing to do with the present but-oh-my-gosh-just-not-silence, advice, and occasionally someone who is ok with being uncomfortable and will just listen. The latter is what I think most everyone wants, though I could be wrong. For me at least it's true. Second is the awkward silence.

I've learned to live in that silence.

To let it absorb into my inner-most being like a dry sponge saturates with water.

The worst is when people try to offer advice. I know they mean well and are most likely so extremely out of their comfort zone that they do not know what to do and want to help, but unless you've been violated, unless you have had your dignity stripped of you and gone through the whirlwind of self-hate/doubt/frustration/embarrassment that comes with having your body-- the very boundary of your essence to which you would think, and should think, you have complete control over-- trespassed, not to be rude, just frank, your advice is so completely out of place and there is simply no way that you can relate that it really doesn't mean jack. But alas, I diverge... the point to this post is to inform you of my thoughts of my most recently completed endeavor:

project dx/dt

Initially Nancy was thinking of something smaller (sorry girl for ruining that way less stressful idea!) and just wanted to get a feel for what other survivors of sexual assault were going through/how it affected them here at MIT. I immediately thought it was a great idea and got on board. Unfortunately, she got the short stick and totally did the majority of the filming and when the time came for editing the film, she really did it all. I arrange for some equipment, helped interview some fellow MIT students (wow, talk about eye opening, I'll elaborate in just a second), and created a slideshow for the half hour before the film. But honestly Nancy really carried the brunt of the work load here. I am so very honored to have worked with such a compassionate, diligent, dedicated, and beautiful person. She is truly inspiring and I am so very blessed to have gotten to work closely with her these past four weeks.

Oh that's another thing, we did this all in four weeks.

Three weekends for filming, and then this past weekend through 5:45pm today (screening was at 8pm, mind you) for editing over 5 hours of footage to just 34minutes. I'm still shocked that we did it.

Nancy, we did it. We. Did. It.

You had a dream, I got on board, and we went with it. It feels so good to have followed something through. This is the first thing in my life that I have felt such an activism for. Oh my goodness, don't get me started on the federal law that protects the identity of convicted college aged rapists from ever getting out. I'm sorry? Yes. You heard me. They can be convicted rapists, and if someone knows and mentions it to someone else, that person who told will get jailed. But again, beside the point...

We heard countless stories that left me simply heart broken for hours after the interview but so appreciative for the fellow MIT students who were willing to come forward and share their stories. To you all, thank you. I had to allot time each weekend after the filming to just let myself not be productive. It was really hard to sit through their experiences and then just "switch off" the emotional side to get work done-- heh, and by really hard, I mean it didn't happen. I definitely took my sweet time. With quotes like:


    I hate myself for not standing up for myself.


and

Sexual violence isn't something that happens to you once. It replays constantly: in your mind, in your dreams, as you pass people walking on the street.


How could I just move on? It felt... disrespectful. But then I encountered comments like:

Survivors are strong people. They are not weak, and they are not broken. They might need you to remind them of this from time to time. Be supportive, and never judge.

And I was encouraged. Encouraged to carry on with the project so that more people know the hell we go through and the determinedness with which we must conquer each day to carry on with our lives. It is not easy, but it is done. We do move forward. I believe the healthiest mentality is to never forget the past, look forward to the future, but remain in the present.

In the end though, with the last ~36 hours being absolutely CRAZY I'd say the film (abridged) turned out pretttty baller. I hope to get the consent of all the participants and thus be allowed to post it online. Rest assured if I am, you will be hearing from me with a link! [edit: you can find the video on our website, here] For now though, should you like to watch the slideshow, you can find it here or downloaded here. For the soundtrack, please listen to it here on Soundcloud.

Thank you all for following me the past couple of weeks as I've chimed in here and there on facebook about the project. It certainly provoked a lot more emotions than I'm enumerating here, but I am literally falling asleep as I write this entry (doesn't help I am lying prostrate on my bed). I think it's time to get some sleep... heh, haven't gotten much lately. Oy, my final is on Monday too. Wish me luck!

Listen.
Learn.
TALK.
Help END the silence.

There is no secret society.

Much love,
Chacha

[edit] P.S. Please see our website with a link to our video and list of resources made available to MIT students: https://sites.google.com/site/projectdxdt/ Thanks for watching!