The Testimony Project, Washington D.C.
Hi, we are Amanda Draper and Tanya Horwitz. Recently, we began a bilingual (English & Spanish) multimedia project based here in the Washington D.C. called The Testimony Project, Washington D.C. With The Testimony Project, we endeavor to give all victim-survivors of gender based violence and sexual violence, regardless of age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, cultural background, nationality, ability, religion, etc. the opportunity to give testimony about their experiences so their voices and stories may be heard. There are three different components to this project, which we are trying to fundraise to support. Please note that we are encouraging people to participate in whatever part of the project they feel the most comfortable doing.
We have begun promoting our project on social media and are in the first stages of trying to promote and raise awareness about our project both on and off social media, so we can generate buzz about project and what we are trying to do. So far we have established a social page/account on the following platforms: Facebook, Twitter , Instagram, and Tumblr. Additionally, we are in the process of developing and refining our concept. Amanda, has been working on translating all of website copy and materials from English to Spanish. We are in the process of posting flyers around the District, contacting community organizations to tell them about project, recruiting participants, and raise awareness about our project.
While we are working really hard to establish our project, we really need your help us to make our dream a reality. We have come to realize that while we really need those who want to support our project to help us raise awareness about our project, and when possible support us financially. Currently, we have been using our own money to finance this project, but we have come to realize that we really need outside financial support to ensure our project's long term success and sustainability, while touching as many lives as possible in the process
Outlined below is a breakdown of each of the three components of our project, along with an explanation of our goals for each component of the project, and how your support helps us to make this project a success.
The components of our project
Documentary film: Another component of this project is an feature length documentary film in which we will be talking to victims-survivors who wish to share their stories with us. Our criteria for participation for the film are the following: all participants must be at least 18 years of age, speak English and/or Spanish, and be willing to talk about your personal experiences with sexual violence. We are encouraging anyone interested in participating to please check out our website or e-mail us at [email protected] for more information.
We had the privilege to have begun working with survivors who have been gracious enough to let us film them for our documentary film, but we have come to realize that we will need film equipment, editing software among other things, in order for us to make this a quality documentary. Originally we thought we could make a quality feature length documentary film and spend almost nothing, but we have realized that this goal of doing this all on our own and spending next to nothing will not be possible. Since people will be giving testimony in this documentary is for our participants more than it is for us, we really need to have some film making equipment and/or tools, so the amateur aspect of our film does not serve to distract viewers or take away from our participants telling their stories. Moreover, since this documentary is for our participants more than it is for us, we are really determined to make this a film, which our participants can take pride in participating in.
Artistic and Writing Component of the Project: The third component of our project, the artistic and writing component, is another special and important part of our project. For this component, we are inviting all interested victims-survivors to submit artwork and/or literary (typed or handwritten) pieces relating to your experiences with gender based and/or sexual violence. We are requesting that anyone submitting anything to us that you please scan and e-mail us electronic hard copies of your work and send them to us at: [email protected] and that, in the e-mail, you include any information about you, you would like us to publish alongside your work. Also, with participants' permission, we may publish this on our Facebook page, social media pages, and website.
Self-made videos: Another component of our project is for people interested in participating in our documentary film project but who cannot or do not want to be filmed in person, whom we are inviting you to create and send us a short video of yourself, telling your story. Our criteria for participation is the following: participants be at least 18 years of age or older and be willing to speak about their experiences. We invite all individuals interested in participating in this project to submit these self-made videos to us, and we request you that interested individuals please email us at [email protected] for more information. With participants' permission we will publish their videos on our Facebook page and our website. We want this component of our project to be similar to Advocates For Youth's 1 in 3 Campaign.
Goals for our project
Artistic and Writing Component: We are hoping that if we receive enough submissions for the artistic and writing portion of the project, we can compile all of the submissions we receive and publish them in a book, which we would sell, with the proceeds from book sales going towards helping us cover our publishing costs, the costs associated with this project and supporting the project. Ideally, we are hoping that if this book gets published, that we would be able to give each participant who submits work to us a copy of the book. All submissions for this component of the project will be kept confidential and can be anonymous if participants wish to have their work published anonymously. We would like to get a PO Box here in the District so participants can mail us hard copies of their artistic works, along with a high quality scanner so we can scan any artistic or anything written by hand with permission post it online. We believe that this book has the potential to provide victims-survivors comfort, knowing that they are not alone and can provide insight into some of the struggles and challenges those of us who are survivors face. With this we hope to generate conversation and provide people an safe creative outlet where they can express their pain without judgment and tell their stories.
Documentary film: We are hoping that when we finish our documentary, that our final product will be a feature length documentary, which we can enter into film festivals, around the United States and may be internationally. Additionally, once we begin the final process for finishing this film, we would be begin coordinating and working with in cooperation with different organizations and institutions in and around the Washington D.C. area, and wherever else, who would host screenings of our film, open to the general public. We are hoping that said screenings, would include a Q & A discussion with Tanya and/or me, Amanda, about our work and this project, among other things.
Self-Made Videos: We are hoping with permission to publish victim-survivors' self-made videos to our website and other social media platforms. We want for this component of our project to be similar to Advocates For Youth's 1 in 3 Campaign to combat stigma surrounding abortion.
Our vision for the project
Through The Testimony Project, Washington, D.C. Tanya and me wish to create a safe, intersectional, supportive, compassionate and empathetic space and platform, where victim-survivors of gender based and sexual violence can feel secure, heard, unashamed, and empowered when telling their stories and giving testimony about their experiences.
We wish to harness the power of testimony, as a conscious raising technique, a form of direct action and protest, and tool for creating social change, to help raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual and gender based violence, educate others about these issues, and how we can more effectively support survivors, and change the conversation on gender based and sexual violence. We hope that through our project we can reduce the stigma and marginalization victim-survivors of gender based and sexual violence face. We believe our project has the potential to provide insight into how we can we can improve existing anti-gender based and sexual violence advocacy and prevention efforts, programs and policies, so they more effectively serve and support survivors in our communities at home and abroad.
Our story and why your support matters
We knew we wanted to do a film to document people telling their stories but were unsure about what we wanted our theme to be. After much thought, we decided we wanted to focus on sexual violence. Gender based violence and sexual violence are topic which are extremely close to our hearts and important for us, since Amanda is a survivor. Amanda's experiences as a survivor in large part have been the force behind her long standing commitment to doing justice work and human rights advocacy.
Originally, this was only going to be a documentary video project in the D.C. area. However, in speaking to our first interviewee, who graciously provided us with a great deal of constructive criticism and feedback about our goals and vision for the project, we began to realize that simply doing a documentary was not going to be sufficient for what we wanted to accomplish. With all of this in mind, we began to develop a plan for expanding the scope of the project.
It is important to note that since my life has been touched by this violence, that I, Amanda, a person who loves talking, has struggled to find my voice. I have struggled with figuring out how I would channel all of my trauma, pain and suffering into creating something meaningful and beautiful, creating something that would help me and others heal. This project is unique in that it allows me to work with an amazing person, a good friend of mine, Tanya Horwitz, who is as equally passionate about supporting and empowering survivors, while changing the world in the process. Tanya challenges me to consider the possibilities and work to make my dreams a reality.
While this project is unique for many reasons, it is particularly important for me, because when I began to break my silence and speak my truth, I have fought be believed and be heard, only to be silenced. I am personally sick of being silenced by individuals, friends, groups, and institutions, who are/were supposed to support me, protect me and help me. My experiences with having people deny my truth, because my truth makes them uncomfortable, have been far worse, and far more damaging and traumatizing for me than my own experiences with gender based and sexual violence. Later as I began doing human rights research in Chile, interacting with people whose lives have been touched by the violence of the Pinochet era in Chile, I began to understand how giving testimony, having others bear witness to your pain, knowing they believe you without question, can be an incredibly therapeutic, empowering and healing experience. Through my research, I have to come understand how important it is for us, people whose lives who have been touched by violence, to have the opportunity and space in which we can tell others about our truth and be believed without question. Since all of us, when we are in pain and are hurting, want and need for others to bear witness to our pain without judgment and believe in us. On the one hand, doing this project is healing for me as a survivor, this project is for not me but for every survivor, who has tried to speak their truth, who has fought for their voice to be heard and been silenced in their efforts to speak their truth.
Before you go, regardless of whether or not you choose to donate to support our project, we thank you for the time you spent reading about our project, our dreams and how we plan to make these dreams a reality. We ask everyone reading this page that you please spread the word about us and our project. So whether you tell your friends or family about us, tweet about us, post about us on Facebook or like or follow any of our pages, please spread the word so we can make our project a success.