Because of this blog, two architecture students from the University of San Carlos in the Phillippines reached out to me, asking me to be a consultant on their thesis project, which was to design a museum for survivors of sexual violence. The two students were Allen Celestino and Fairyssa Biana Canama... and they did an incredible job with their project, titled "Walls of Silence: A Survivor's Museum." It was designed for a site in Cebu City, but it could and should serve as a model for similar museums in any city.
Their video journey is only 3.5 minutes long... and well worth the viewing! They have broken down the chaotic and inchoate process of healing from post-rape trauma, helping the victim access an experience that too often is an internal and unassimilated secret.
The genius of their project is that this is also a healing and integrating experience for the friends and families of survivors, who often have no idea what their loved one is going through. In this museum experience, they can literally accompany them through these externalized stages, offering enormous opportunity for dialogue and empathy.
For those who are interested in the process behind their choices, their half-hour thesis presentation is fascinating and also available online. (It includes the shorter video of the museum tour.) Both Celestino and Canama come out as survivors in their video, and their design process reflects their constant engagement with their own experiences.
I encourage survivors and those who love us to take the short tour of Walls of Silence, and then the longer tour of the thesis presentation. I encourage all of us begin to think more deeply about the needs of survivors in our culture and ways to bring this tangible, visible proof of caring to our communities.