The Lisa Project comes to PC

The interactive walkthrough exhibit called The Lisa Project has made its way to Porterville College (PC), and the experience is eye-opening.

The Lisa Project is a unique multi-sensory exhibit experience allowing the visitor to hear, see, and experience the reality of the world of child abuse, and it is not for the faint of heart.

Before entering into the exhibit, each visitor is handed an iPod shuffle connected to a lanyard. The visitors are asked to put the iPod  around their neck and the earphones in their ears before making their way into the first room of the walkthrough. 

Once inside the room, the iPod begins playing a pre-recorded track of a woman talking. She explains that her name is Lisa and that the exhibit is based on her experiences growing up. She says that she is not the only one to have these experiences, and that the visitor will see a variety of scenarios that abused children may grow up in.

A chime sounds in the headphones, which signals the visitor to move to the next room. Once in the second room, Ashley’s room, a new voice comes into the earphones and explains the purpose for the room. It looks like an average teenage girl’s room, but the backstory makes the room ominous. To the right is a small table where various types of makeup are laid out. Ashley’s voice says that the makeup isn’t just for show, it’s used to cover up bruises on her face that came from the hands of her guardians. As Ashley finishes her story, another chime sounds.

Upon entering into the next room, it is bare except for a bowl placed on a small table. The bowl is filled with folded strips of yellow paper. Each visitor is asked to grab a strip and read what is inside. Various forms of abuse are typed up on each strip. The papers are a representation of the ever-changing cycle of abuse that victimized children experience each day. As the visitor holds the paper in their hands, the voice over the headphones states, “This is the type of abuse you’ll experience today,” before the chime sounds. 

After entering into the last room, a dirty kitchen is depicted. The voice of a little boy comes into the earphones, and he introduces himself as Evan. Evan’s situation is a sad one. He is forced to live outside while his mother and her boyfriend stay inside intoxicated and fighting. Evan says that if he tries to enter his home, he is thrown back out, until his mother’s boyfriend leaves. The sounds coming from the inside of his home are haunting.

After exiting the exhibit, counselors are available for those who may have been triggered or feel that they need to speak to someone.

“I wanted to bring this to campus because child abuse shows up in adulthood,” said Errin Sullivan Arcos, PC’s mental health counselor. “I think making the connection on campus will be a huge thing for us.”

The Lisa Project will be at PC until May 2. It is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the cafeteria.

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