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On July 23, 2018, my friend H reported a charity influencer in her Moments for sexually assaulting her on a hiking trip three years ago. As a member of that trip, I was astonished to learn that although it was so close to me, it took me three years to find out.

H’s report set off the “me too” movement in the charity circle, and also drew my attention to these victims of sexual assaults. As the movement progressed, more and more people summoned up the courage to tell their stories in public.

I hope to, from an internal point of view, record and present the traumatic memories of the sexual assault victims, the impact of such experiences on their future life and work, as well as my personal resonance with these experiences.

The project is divided into three parts. In Part 1, I invite H to co-create with me. She uses words and Polaroid to record the life after report, which is also interspersed with her life three years ago and her life now filmed by me as well as the media’s report fragments of her after she reported the incident. This presentation is meant to demonstrate an entanglement of the past and the present as well as the tension between the first person and the second person. Click here to view more

In Part 2, I explore the nature of memories of traumatic experiences, with particular interest in the level of detail that is seared into a survivor's recollection.   I first try to reconstruct the scene where H's assault had happened, including details like a puddle of water on the floor that she would revisit in nightmares for years after.   These deep impressions never disappear.  I collaborate with H and other survivors to externalize these pieces of psychological evidence with my photography.  After transcribing our interviews, I highlight details that personally resonate with me and I imagine how the survivors might have felt at the time -- the fear, the shame, and the self doubt, common for all the women.  This empathetic creative process informs the mission of this project, that by photographing the survivors' own photographs, I help preserve their agency.  I have drawn inspiration for this project from Judith Herman's book Trauma and Recovery. Click here to view more

In Part 3, I integrate these collected experiences into one story after another in the first person. Then I invite different people to read them aloud. This arrangement can enable these readers who have never had similar experiences to have an actual understanding of sexual assault; in addition, when these experiences that would have been difficult to talk about are shared by people in this way, the taboos are broken. It aims to convey this message: Sexual assault is not only the misfortune of individuals, but a problem that needs to be faced by the whole society.

I hope this can serve as an entry into the hearts of sexual assault victims, while the viewers will develop a more comprehensive understanding of sexual assault through empathy.

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