The beauty of being a filmmaker is that I’m able to work on so many projects in different genres – but I keep on being asked “why are documentaries important to me?”
As a journalist and overall filmmaker I think that telling the stories, as truthful as possible, whenever I can is a responsibility that I have to my audience. Yes, I would love to, in a near future, direct scripted material – but for now I feel there are so many stories, involving the violation of both human and environmental rights that I need to further develop these stories and start a conversation that no one is having.
I want to talk about domestic violence for a second (or two, or three)…
There has been a lot of talk about the struggles men face while coming out as victims of domestic violence – while the issue has been surging for the past few years there’s still a long way to go when it comes to providing help for men who say they’ve been abused by their partners – an injustice if you ask me.
According to a recent Business Insider article “a report released Tuesday by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) shows that Jacob, whose story is detailed in the report, was hardly alone in his struggle to find help. Surveying 1,976 instances of LGBTQ intimate partner abuse from 2015, NCAVP found that nearly half of survivors (44 percent) had been turned away from shelters.”
Why? Because most shelters have a “no men” policy in order to keep the women they’re helping safe – and they should be kept safe, but the administrations to these shelters and clinics should also recognize that men can and often are victims of domestic violence, rape and child sexual abuse – and rarely, if at all get any help.
While, and I reiterate here, the progress in the help women have gained throughout the years has been great and should be continued in order to help those who have been victimized by their partners – I feel there is a large demographic that is being ignored here, and until we address the other victims of domestic violence, we are only doing half of the work that is required to put an end to partner abuse and/or domestic violence.
Which is why the film Forced into Silence came about and now Silent no More is a docu-series will further explore the issues presented in the film. My hope is that people will see the importance of a gender-inclusive conversation of victims of domestic violence and will begin to realize that men and those in the LGBTQ community that face the gender-restrictions that force them to continue to go through these human rights violations, when they clearly need help to get out of their abusive situation.
As of today I began making the first edits to the interviews I’ve done for the pilot of the series, once done with that, I’ll be submitting it to festivals and pitching for funding for more episodes. All with hopes that producers and/or financiers see the need to have this conversation, if I’m not successful with that, the docu-series will be available to be seen in different online platforms such as Vimeo and/or YouTube for everyone to see, learn and interact with. The point is to keep the conversation going and to help bring awareness that domestic violence is not a gender-exclusive problem, but everyone’s problem.
Hello readers. Happy half-off-of-all-valentine’s-chocolate-sale day! I’ve been up to some really crazy things lately. Editing the footage (new and old) of Forced into Silencealong with coordinating some more interviews with the help of some amazing production team members in the U.S. things are moving along quite amazingly.
I’ve been working tirelessly on this project for the past three and years and am really excited about this project finally coming together and seeing the light of day. For a moment I was worried about it not making it out. I even resolved to not seeing this project completed, or released for that matter, for at least seven years.
There was something inside me however, that once I said the words “even if it takes me seven, or twenty years…it’ll be done” during a recent podcast interview, that snapped. I couldn’t wait that long. People couldn’t wait that long. I remembered one of the talks at La Guardia Community College on this very subject. When I was done with the talk I remembered how one of the female students came up to me and thanked me, that she had been questioning her actions with her new partner. I also remembered two students, one male and a female who came to me to verify that he’d been sexually assaulted during a recent food delivery run. I remember giving them the information to a place he could get help and counseling. I also remember him saying that it wasn’t a big deal because it was ‘just a crazy lady’ and how his friend said “it doesn’t matter if it was a woman or a man – it’s not right either way.”
My responsibility to them and to the countless others that I haven’t yet spoken to reignited the fire inside me and made me even more relentless in the mission to complete this film. Even without acquiring funding for the film, while facing people that do not want to know about the subject…I could go on…all these things that could serve as a deterrent to many other directors in making a film. But to me, it’s motivation. As a storyteller, I have the responsibility to tell the stories of those who aren’t heard. I have the responsibility to tell them they’re not alone, and they can get help – because there are people out there who are working really hard to make things right for them.
Truth is, I can sit here and take tons of webinars on how to make a successful film, how to market the shit out of it, and how to break into the industry – but if I’m not sharing what I’ve learned so far from my research and my interviews – I would have failed.
What I have…and what I have can potentially change the game for all those men who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and/or rape – the information I have so far is important that it will be difficult for people to ignore.
“Sexual orientation is defined by who you’re sexually and romantically attracted to…”
There are myths that come with being sexually assaulted if you’re a male. Some of many things that people think that will happen after a male child is abused by an adult male are:
The boy child will become a homosexual when they reach adulthood;
The victims will become sexual abusers themselves;
Because of their violent history, these victims will become delinquents;
These men will become perpetrators of domestic violence.
All unfounded topics that I explore in the film.
According to William Pollack, Ph.D. “society places boys in a ‘gender-straightjacket’ without being aware of doing so, society is judging the behavior of boys against outmoded ideas about masculinity and about what it takes for a boy go become a man.” Pollack’s book Real Boys explores emotional and psychological issues that are unique to boys and their emotional development. In the documentary, I explore these problems boys and men still face today with an experienced and accomplished panel of experts that have made it their life to speak about these issues and to let men know they’re not alone in their plight. Still, as many publications and some movements promote a more sensible man, as a society we’re still asking them to be the stoic man who can take care of everyone else whilst never displaying a sign of weakness or vulnerability of their own.
Kenneth M. Adams, Ph.D. writes in his poignant book Silently Seduced that “…instances of boys being violated have been underreported…many boys report being sexually violated by their mothers, stepmothers, aunts, female neighbors, and babysitters…the myth that ‘men are just more sexual than women and always want sex’ suggests a young boy would welcome being sexually stimulated by an adult woman and would not necessarily feel victimized. On the contrary, a young boy just learning about his body and sexuality is overwhelmed to have a woman touch him in a sexual way.”
Meaning that there is no way that a boy as young as eight cannot “loose his virginity” to an adult woman. Furthermore, it proves that a woman can sexually abuse a male child. It proves that the language that mainstream media uses when reporting a female-on-male sexual abuse case (i.e. ‘having a relationship with underage boy’) needs to change. Moreover, our societal views about how boys and men should be, how we treat all matters pertaining to boys being victimized in any way need to change…it further proves that Forced into Silence the documentary is needed in order to help those who have been victimized understand that they’re not alone and seek help – along with helping those who love them, to understand what might be happening with their partners.
“It all comes down to that one common theme; we must protect women, but men must protect themselves…”
But the exploration of the effects of sexual abuse and/or rape isn’t the only thing I discuss. Domestic violence is an issue that goes underreported and hardly ever discussed among men.
I remember when I first began working on this project and I was speaking to a Latino male about the idea. He blatantly told me “you should speak to white guys, they’re always being abused by their spouses” as if a particular race of men are more susceptible to being victims than others. Truth is all men can, and have been victims of domestic abuse in one way or another. According to HelpGuide.org the signs of an abusive relationship are:
These signs do not apply only for female victims, but to any person who is being victimized – and they are one of the reasons why I continue to work on this film project and bring it to the audiences regardless of funding, or general support from the media. There are people who are suffering in silence because of the pressures of what it means to be their gender.