Rize | Childhood Sexual Abuse

My life partner, Mariama, was sexually abused by an older man who lived next door to her when growing up. She was five years old. Five.

Growing up, the repressed memories from this period started coming back to her. She’s been suffering from depressions, panic attacks and night terrors periodically through her life, and has only recently fully understood the connection between that and the trauma from her childhood.

It’s probably not possible to ever fully heal and fully move on from this type of thing, and from all those fragile childhood years of carrying a darkness of this magnitude. But through various forms of therapy she’s been able to get better, and to help the little girl inside breathe easier.

One particularly important aspect of Mariama’s therapeutic work is to tell her story. To stop treating it as something shameful. To release it from the confines of the deep basement of her psyche. And in so doing, reassigning the guilt and shame for what happened onto the perpetrator.

The perpetrator, by the way, got Alzheimer’s disease and died some years ago. Sweet justice? Or, did he get off the hook too easily? Did he make himself sick out of self-hatred for what he was? I don’t know these answers, but I do know he’s not here to be confronted and face criminal justice for his actions.

Mariama and I have talked for years about the possibility of making a film about what she went through. And finally it seemed the time was right. She was ready to talk about it. And I was ready to record her testimony.

With this short film, and through Mariama’s art work and dance performance, she wants to begin reclaiming the energy and power that was taken from her as a child.

Making this film was heavy, but we also had quite a lot of fun putting our creative minds together in the process. Creativity, it seems, can be an important ally in this type of work.

With love,
Mattias & Mariama

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