One day I heard the story of a young boy who had been sexually abused by his music teacher. Another day, I heard about a teenager who had been suffering at the hands of her grandfathers perversions for several years. These stories were told to me by some friends who work as therapists helping people who have suffered or are suffering- this sort of abuse. And I wanted to know more. That is how this story began.
I got in touch with several victims and talked with them. I was shattered when I heard their stories, learning about their suffering, produced by such a horrible aggression. Above all, I felt a deep admiration when I saw the valour and courage with which they daily face the need to remake their lives.
I lived with their pain and hope for more than a year, I talked with the therapists who helped them, and I tried to distance myself from the topics that surround this theme to analyse the complexity of some human behaviours without preconceptions. And that is how I discovered the impressive dramatic and personal richness that was behind the experiences I heard: stories of silences, of guilt, of manipulation and dependencies. But also stories of survival, of fighting against adversity, against humiliation, against submission.
DONT BE AFRAID was inspired by all of this material. A film about their determination to face a traumatic fate; about their will to build up their own future; about the need to show on the screen a dark truth our society insists on ignoring.
When somebody goes through a strange or aggressive situation in the street, the first thing one does, by pure instinct, is to look around for somebody else who can testify what has happened. Other witnesses that verify what happened. Sometimes it is the same with pain: you need a witness. If you have a witness to your pain, that confirms what is happening, it is real. We are not crazy. We are not lying. If somebody sees you, that gives importance to the situation: it exists. This is why it is a relief to have a witness to your own affliction.
When someone is raped, it is much more than the body that is violated. Many other places are violated, even those that should not be touched. Abused people separate from their bones when this happens. Their minds fly far away, to other places. It is a long and lonely trip, and when they come back, they come back voiceless. They have been robbed not only of their dignity and their soul but even of their words.
We tell this story to lend them our words, to make them feel they are not alone. We try to find some witnesses to their journey We want to narrate what they are living through, or what they have lived, with the hope that someone is there to listen to it.
Maria Laura Gargarella