Some Secrets Should Be Told: Lisa Project at PC

Lisa Project

by BY JAMIE A. HUNT for the Porterville Recorder

The Lisa Project "Some Secrets Should Be Told" is an interactive exhibit with the goal of raising awareness of child abuse, family violence, and sexual abuse.

Hosted by Porterville College and a team from Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council, volunteers are helping bring awareness to PC staff, students, and the general public over a three-day exhibit in a room adjacent to the college cafeteria.

"This is one of the most impactful things we can bring to local communities," said Beth Wilshire, Interim Executive Director of TCCAPC, talking about "The Lisa Project."

Hannah Douglass, the organization's community outreach and media specialist, said the Lisa Project is a great way for people to become aware of abuse and the many types of abuse in the general community. Before seeing the "interactive Lisa Project exhibit" and becoming involved with TCCAPC, she "didn't realize how widespread abuse was in Tulare County."

Volunteers were also helping at the exhibit during the day, and volunteer Christopher Dayao said it was eye-opening that "we don't see abuse reported except in the newspapers. And we should be more aware."

It's a chilling, emotional, and horrifying exhibit, and one hears the real stories that have happened to children and young adults who are featured in the exhibit. And while being horrified, it will make one's blood boil.

Raising awareness and education can help combat the abuse of children and adults and help connect people with local community resources.

In the actual "Interactive Project," pictures cannot be taken. But it can be written about a bit. In the interactive experience, one wears headphones, listens to the stories, and sees facsimiles of the environment in which these children and young people lived.

First is an abusive parental relationship with a young child, then a young child living in neglect with a parent on drugs having sex to pay for her habit, then a young girl being physically abused, hurt, and hit and covering it up, and a young woman being sexually abused by her father.

And then anyone who sees this starts thinking about people they've known, or people even closer, and think "what . . . .."

It can be challenging, and it sure brings up emotions, and it can be emotionally draining. But it's worth going to see and learning about.

This abuse happens, and people are now coming out and telling their stories. Abuse happens from someone one knows often or to someone one knows; 90 percent of the victims know the perpetrator.

And children have a lack of choice. They don't choose where or to whom they were born.

At the end of the interactive project, one learns Lisa, the original little girl, has grown up, gotten out of the abusive relationship, and found help in the community with resources and support. It ends with hope and "What are we going to do now?" with prevention efforts.

Post-it notes allow people to write quick comments or thoughts like "End the cycle of abuse now." So often, there's abuse, and it's not seen, recognized, and hidden because people are ashamed or don't see. And often, people don't know what to look for.

It's upsetting to hear how prevalent this abuse is in the community and Central Valley. It's everywhere.

The project offers excellent resources for the different types of abuse, and it can help younger and older women with community resources to help "break the cycle of abuse."

If they bring awareness, projects like this will help people get out and get help. Sometimes if they don't know what to look for, they don't know what's happening.

For instance, if one has grown up in an abusive relationship or a controlling environment, one doesn't necessarily know what life is like otherwise.

268 kids are abused a day in California, according to TCCAPC, and for many children, this is their reality: abuse.

And one abusive relationship can often lead to another. That's where "End the cycle" comes in.

Another volunteer, Brendon Alexander, was shocked at how many people came to the exhibit and said they had been abused or knew someone who had been. It came to light how prevalent abuse was during the pandemic, and he said, "It's a pandemic in itself."

After walking through the exhibit, Ana Ceballos, a Counselor at PC, said, "That was quite emotional. And I had to fight back tears. I thought about people who've gone through abuse or even family members. And I felt it was a very powerful experience. And that should be experienced by everyone to bring understanding and awareness of how to help yourself and others."

Maria, who didn't give her last name, said, "It's a lot to take in. As a Hispanic, to break the cycle of abuse, you don't want to put your children in these situations as you were. You are trying to do your best."

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