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.
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,
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.