The tagline for the Center for Digital Storytelling is “Listen Deeply. Tell Stories.” For more than 8-years, Exhale has listened. Deeply. Actively. Purposefully. Intently to the women and men who call our talkline.
We developed our Pro-Voice approach in response to their needs and in recognition that the stories we hear on our talkline are rarely included in public discourse. The stories are hidden. Neglected. We think they should be heard.
Most importantly, we think they should be heard with dignity and respect.
The board, staff and volunteers of Exhale have been grappling with the challenge of how abortion stories can be heard with dignity and respect in the midst of such conflicted, contested terrain. In the midst of war. At a time when abortion stories are used or manipulated for political goals. When stigma keeps many people silent.
This challenge is not a new challenge. Over the course of history and throughout the world, important stories – of people and of communities – have been hidden by conflict, taboo, violence or stigma.
“Silence Speaks” is a program created by the Center for Digital Storytelling to respond to these untold narratives. Silence Speaks helps people to tell their own stories, in their own way and in their own words, in the form of short digital videos. Silence Speaks promotes personal and collective healing and transformation. Silence Speaks can change the way a people or a community are perceived and provide us with the tools we need to change conversation and thus, our very own history.
Storytelling – and oral history – are critical components of transforming conflict and building peace.
Exhale is proud to partner with the Silence Speaks program of The Center for Digital Storytelling on a pilot project to support the telling of abortion stories and stories of nonjudgmental listening.
We are sharing our own stories. We are experiencing healing and transformation. We will create forums where our stories are heard with dignity and respect. We will change conversations with these stories. We will change the course of our own history.
We will build abortion peace.
*photos from the Silence Speaks digital storytelling workshop with Exhale, February 2010