‘Survivors’: notes from hell

Today sees the launch of ‘Survivors‘, our mixed media short film based on conversations with survivors of domestic abuse, charting their struggles not only to escape from perpetrators but then to rebuild their lives with a system that is failing them.

The film was made for HomeTruths, a tireless Wiltshire based domestic abuse organization supporting victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

To make this film we had to change the rules for the Eye Opening Films scheme and use actors as well as animation. This was only possible because of the commitment, generosity and ability of the four actresses featuring: Jo Butler, Daisy Beaumont, Natasha Cottriall and Fiona Sheehan.

It should be acknowledged that this film is not only about but also belongs first and foremost to the courageous contributors who selflessly shared their horrific stories of escape and entrapment with the sole purpose of supporting other victims and survivors and raising awareness.

from ‘Survivors’

On a personal note, much of what I had heard from the survivors I talked to was too difficult, too disturbing for inclusion even in this really dark film.

I have been involved with documentary filmmaking for over twenty years now and have witnessed some extreme human loss and suffering. There were times when I was facing dangerous or gruesome scenes; none of it was as traumatizing, as radicalizing to me as talking to the survivors in preparing for this film.

All around 21st century Britain there are victims and their children fearing for their lives, abused in multiple manners and frequently failed by the very system that is supposed to protect them.

from ‘Survivors’

Now there are numerous dedicated professionals out there saving lives and helping survivors with their recovery, as well as working to prevent abuse and improve practices and awareness. They deserve our praise (I’d say they also deserve greater resources). Still, do we take this unacceptable horror, this shame of ours as a society as seriously as we should?

We are rightly shocked and we demand action from our representatives and the police when terrorists strike but we somehow think that violence ‘in the family’ is just a part of life.

According to the ONS over a million domestic abuse-related incidents were recorded by the police in the year ending March 2016, and yet this issue is often relegated from front page news status.

With the recent sea change in societal and media attitudes towards sexual harassment and assault, it is time we declared domestic abuse of all kinds simply unacceptable and make sure we have got adequate, well-resourced systems in place for prevention, protection and genuine survivor support.

I am in no way an expert on this serious, complex issue. Kim and Mary from HomeTruths however are. In whichever part of the UK, indeed probably whichever part of the world you live, this is likely to be a real problem and there would hopefully be others, Like Mary and Kim supporting victims and survivors.

We should help them.

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