I wanted to highlight a positive story of stammering

12th March 2021

'I Was Defined By My Silence' is a video Charlie Raymond Kent made for his uni project. Watch it above and read how it's made him start to deal with his own speech issues.

Hello, my name is Charlie. Like many others who stammer, I have created a thesaurus so I can quickly chop and change words when I am about to stutter. I guess this comes from a place of fear and shame, but I understand I'm not alone in hiding from my stammer. 

It's strange really, people can know me for months and not have a clue that I stammer — it's only when it comes to saying names of places or other words that cannot be quickly substituted that I get caught out. Essentially, I wasn't saying the words I wanted to say and as a consequence, I wasn't able to express myself and allow others to really get to know me. 

The article's author Charlie Kent, with screengrabs from his video
Charlie Kent

I wanted to create something that humanises people who stammer. 

The fact that I stammer never really leaves my mind, but this past year I've exhausted a lot of energy on the matter. The stress, anxiety, zoom calls and face coverings that come with the global pandemic have left me battling a spell of dysfluency. The difference this time, however, is that I want, and feel the need to, say the words I want to say. 

University assignment

Furthermore, I wanted to try and help others in the stammering community who may be going through a similar thing. I'm a university student studying Press & Editorial Photography at Falmouth University, and last term we were tasked to create a multimedia piece on the topic of 'People & Passion'. I wanted to create something that highlighted a positive story of stammering as well as the struggles a stammerer faces day to day. I feel stammering is portrayed negatively by the media; often characters who stammer in films or series are used as comedic relief, or as an example of unintelligence; I wanted to create something that humanises people who stammer. 

I think we have collectively produced something powerful and I really believe this video will have a positive impact.

For the project I reached out to a man called Michael Joyes after reading an article about his stammer in the local newspaper. We spoke over Microsoft Teams for 45 minutes, sharing experiences of living with a stammer, about attending a McGuire Programme course and in particular, how having one should define you or hold you back. I then used that to make the video 'I Was Defined By My Silence', which you can watch above.

I think we have collectively produced something powerful and I really believe this video will have a positive impact. Michael was actually the first person who stammers I have ever had a conversation with about it — better late than never I suppose, it was a conversation I'm very grateful for as I believe it has kickstarted my journey to controlling, understanding and documenting stammering. 

I hope you enjoy the video and don't hesitate to message me via Instagram: @charlieraymondkent

The McGuire Programme is one of a number of courses for people who stammer. Read more about the range of options on our Therapy & Courses section.

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