Silent no more

We’re starting 2016 out strong!

Happy New Year to all the readers – hope you had a great holiday season.

Getting straight to the point, I originally planned on starting production for Beneath the Waves but as life would have it that particular production will continue to be on hold – for now at least. Instead, I’ll give you the official preview for my other docu-film Forced into Silence – a documentary that pretty much has been three (3) years in the making. One that I am more than happy to bring a global audience – or at least to my collective 1000+ social media friends and followers.

If you’re not familiar with the story behind this project: I began working on this documentary in late 2012, and released a campaign video late 2013 to raised funds. Inspired and haunted by an article in The Guardian I found while doing research in 2011, I decided that I was going to explore the topic and do so at a larger scale. The research was overwhelming and sometimes deeply traumatizing. Brmain-qimg-6f0a11a2c4707f5a380099534396ab3cinging me to a dark place that I knew then most victims never leave. With every book, article and report I read determination grew and so did my relentlessness to tell these stories – in my mind people had to know about the men who are silently dealing with domestic abuse and sexual assault. Just as I had reported on the female victims of femicide in Guatemala, US and Puerto Rico, I found myself determined to help these victims who continue to battle their demons in secret.
According to a 2010 report published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one in four men will become a victim of domestic violence. That is 1 in 4 adult men will suffer some form of mental, verbal, or physical abuse (maybe even all of these) by their spouse/partner. To reiterate, that is one man every 37.8 seconds each day, will be domestically abused. One of the challenges that these men face, is that authorities do not see women as abusers, which is a contributing factor to the increase of these numbers.

Setting the record straight

Let me be clear, I am not dismissing the serious problem that is gender-based violence, nor am I saying that female victims of rape, domestic violence, discrimination should be ignored. No, that is not what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying is that anyone can be a victim and that one of the biggest problems faced in the recognition of male victims is the antiquated views of the male image paired with the lack of recognizing the likelihood of a woman being an aggressor and/or attacker. Especially if this man is in an authoritative position, say, in the military, or anything like that. Men often have to provide video evidence of the abuse they experience by their spouses, especially if this is a female. Why? Because men can fight back, and women are the weaker gender…right?

Our society is conditioned to recognize, and help women who have long suffered from traumatic events like these, while that is the correct thing to do, and we should continue doing so – we should also recognize that men have been, and continue to be victims of not only domestic violence, but sexual abuse, rape and harassment, and none of it is a joke.

Male rape in film

Male rape in film has been looked at in a comedic way. Movies such as Horrible Bosses where the “Man Eater” character played by Jennifer Aniston is in reality a sexual predator who eventually rapes Charlie Day’s character in the movies sequel after continuously and aggressively harassing him through the course of the first film – making this an excellent example of how assault of men is viewed in today’s society. Moreover, a film that I keep coming back to, is 40 days and 40 nights, when Josh Hartnett’s character, Matt Sullivan, is blatantly raped by his ex girlfriend (Vinessa Shaw’s Nicole) who ties him up to a bed and proceeds to rape him. Not shocking is the fact that later on in the film, Matt is accused of cheating on his new girlfriend (Shannyn Sossamon’s Erica), lying, and breaking his promise to remain celibate, despite the fact that he was obviously raped.

Then there is the groundbreaking Swedish film that brought things into perspective way before its time; Manrape, the 1978 film based on the book Män kan inte våldtas by Märta Tikkanen published in 1976. Although the book’s title translates to “man can’t be raped” the female protagonist Eva Randers, who has been sexually assaulted, plots a revenge on her rapist. She begins to follow him and study him and subsequently rapes him as pay back for what he’d done to her. In the film, Randers confesses her act of revenge, the response in 1978 is what many people still respond today.

Pettersson: What’s your crime?
Eva Randers: I have raped a man
Pettersson: You can’t rape a man

Today, we have cases like that of Shia LaBeouf’s of our times, who during a performing art installation was raped by a female fan. Despite the mixed reactions, LaBeouf bravely spoke about the rape – and the stigmas that many men faced were splattered across the media.  Stigmas that include the belief that in order to rape a man one must: 1. Be a man (or penetrate the male victim in some way or form), 2. Have a weapon of some sort 3. The event itself must be a violent one; and the question that many asked was 4. Why didn’t he fight her off?  Questions that wouldn’t have come to mind should LaBeouf have been a woman.

There is however, a growing population that knows that rape and domestic abuse is blind to gender and/or physical strength or abilities. Still, while some films continue to pollute the population with the stigma of men always want sex, and that having an erection means consent – there are shows like Law & Order: SVU whose latest episodes address the male rape epidemic head on. By presenting both female and male predators in their shows, they are educating their audience on the vulnerability and frailty of the human body and the susceptibility of anyone becoming a victim.  That is where Forced into Silence fits – the education of the public on the male victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Forced into Silence will feature compelling interviews with men who have been abused as children by family members, as well as their experience with abuse as adults. In addition, the documentary will also feature interviews with Executive Director of Male Survivor, author, speaker and survivor of multiple sexual traumas Christopher Anderson; therapist, author, and speaker Andrew Smiler, Ph.D.; as well as relationship coach, human rights and gender equity advocate Jasmin Newman. The film is meant to continue to open the door on the abuse of men, and how we, as a society, can eradicate the cycle of violence.

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