America ReFramed

S3 E14 | CLIP

Family Affair | Webisode

A conversation between America ReFramed's host Natasha Del Toro, Family Affair filmmaker Chico Colvard and Boston Area Rape Crisis Center's Executive Director Gina Scaramella.

AIRED: April 15, 2015 | 0:06:11

Family Affair tells a story of secrets, abuse,

and perhaps the path to healing.

The film crosses into territory

that's rarely discussed openly and frankly.

To continue the discussion, we have filmmaker Chico Colvard

and Gina Scaramella,

executive director at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.

Chico, the starting point of the film for you

is when you shoot your sister, which leads to this revelation

that your sisters have been sexually abused by your father,

which is a shocking moment.

What does that moment tell us

about the difficulty for victims,

like your sisters, for speaking out?

It took a horrific event like this for my sister,

believing that she was going to die

before she was able to reveal to my mother

and then later the police

that our father had been sexually assaulting them

for many years.

And this is the case for many people

who are suffering from being abused

under circumstances that I think to the outsider looks like

a relatively seemingly kind of normal environment

or family home.

And so there is no catalyst like this

to trigger that kind of revelation.

GINA SCARAMELLA: The shame and stigma really can keep people

in a state of silence and non-disclosure

because it is just so terrifying

to think about what could happen.

And this isn't somebody that Chico's sisters didn't know;

this is their dad, who they also love.

And that's true for many, many survivors,

that the people that they're needing to disclose about

are people that they really love and care about,

and so the burden on young children

who are facing this crime is quite significant.

The social attitudes that you're talking about

with the shame and the stigma,

how does that then impact your victim's ability to heal?

SCARAMELLA: It is, of course, an incredibly long road,

and it's a lifelong process.

And people want it to be very linear--

you know, in a few months you'll feel better

and then you're good--

but really, it's actually quite circular

and people revisit it at different points in their life.

One of the things at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center

that we see that helps people a lot

is the ability to talk to other people

who've been through sexual trauma

because it gives you a context to understand and hear

how other people are coping and getting through it.

And it really sort of normalizes

all of the things that people do to try to heal.

DEL TORO: I understand that you've shown this film

across the country.

What have you noticed

in terms of class and crisis of disclosure?

I've noticed that it's pretty indiscriminate

and that it, sadly enough, affects people

across all kinds of demographics--

rich, poor, various sort of religious beliefs, ethnicities--

and I think that there is perhaps a sort of perception,

a misperception,

that this disproportionately impacts lower income

and certain ethnic groups more than others,

and that's just not what I have seen.

Is that what you've seen?

SCARAMELLA: Yes, absolutely that's true.

The research is really pretty clear that there is...

You know, in the U.S.,

there is just really running the gamut

from people who are quite poor to people who are quite rich,

and in every community it's an issue,

and it's always an issue of silence and shame,

it's always an issue

of whether or not you're gonna be believed,

it's always an issue of trust.

For example, in the LGBT community,

if you were to disclose an issue of sexual violence happening,

you're bringing potential shame onto the community.

And that's true for an African-American community

or any ethnic or racial or religious

or any group that's marginalized.

There's huge pressure to keep things looking good.

Imagining these little girls having the courage to stand up

to, oftentimes, these very well-respected figures

in the community,

and to believe that somebody's going to rescue them

is a daunting task.

Was it scary for you to make, Chico?

Yeah, it was terrifying, but for me,

the prospect of not confronting this part of my past

was even scarier.

There's a point at which you start to think

because everyone is having a relationship with this guy

knowing he did these horrible things

that maybe I got it wrong.

And the real fear was,

"Oh, no, I'm going to end up liking this guy.

"We're gonna be pals.

We're gonna have this father-son relationship."

I had to give up all hope.

Some of my sisters, more than others,

gave up all hope of a better past.

This idea and this notion

that my father would somehow be the father he never was,

that he could truly change,

and learning how to sort of do that work on my own

and turning to other people I could trust

in other communities and resources like BARC.


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