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Don’t Tell Your Mom

Don’t Tell Your Mom. It relays the story about my trauma of childhood sexual abuse from a personal perspective. It finds its origins in my childhood memories, which were attempted to be covered up by the person who physically abused me. The words “don’t tell your mom” became the symbol for this experience of trying to erase my trauma. I grew up in a traditional Chinese family where there is a lack of sex education. In effect, there was a lack of awareness about self-protection for children, and we felt ashamed to talk about the word “sex” in public. I kept my secret of sexual abuse for 18 years until I gained healing and peace in making photos, then this body of work was born.

I used my body and different objects with symbolic significance through multiple art forms: the lumen print process, staged photographs, and sculpture installation as metaphors to euphemistically express my inner struggle, hopelessness, fear and experience. This complicated process also created an experimental inner dialogue about traumatic memories of physical sexual abuse, and the potential of healing through photography as a visual language.