A few months ago, I think it was in October, I had written about being busy for several days as a filming crew came to my residence to make a documentary about sexual and physical abuse. The film producer is a private company contracted to create documentaries to our public/private TV broadcast corporation. 2/3 of the population watches this channel because we are charged for it even though we didn’t order it. This corporation doesn’t have the technology to block signals so that they can charge everyone. Believe it or not, a law exists stating that anyone who owns a television must pay a monthly fee for watching the program even though we don’t watch it and we didn’t order it.
2 years ago, I was sending out my first manuscript for my book about child abuse in Croatian, a local TV station heard about it and called me to be a guest on a talk show called “Osmi Kat”, a popular talk show similar to Oprah’s show in the US. Although I didn’t go into details about my sexual abuse as there was not that much time, it was still very shocking to many viewers and the people involved in working at this TV station.
This a Catholic dominated society where most laws regarding family, abortion, sexual abuse, discipline and marriage are influenced by the Church. Women are taught to stay silent, they are made to feel shame about their experience and in many cases are accused of provoking their rapist into the act itself. In the documentary, the first woman after me Danijela talks about how she was attacked on a cruise ship. After calling the police, her employer fired her for causing such a scene, the police questioned her as if she was the one that provoked the attempted assault. Because of laws that don’t protect victims of child abuse or sexual abuse, she filed a complaint with the EU commission of human rights and won the case.
To you in the Western world, this may seem primitive, yes, to me it is as well because I have been talking about my abuse for 20 years now while in Canada, but Croatia is still a developing country dominated by Cannon Law. It is my opinion the reason why Catholic clergy discourage women and children NOT to talk about it is because they know if the victims start reporting the crimes, their own crimes will be found out as well. What better way to keep you silent than by making your abuse “your sin”, while also asking if you maybe “provoked” the attack by wearing something that would cause a man to rape you.
And when the children grow up and realize that what happened to them created a very unstable individual and that it affected their life in every way; the first contact is their catholic priest whom will tell them that it would be bad thing to disclose this after so many years because these men have new families and children of their own, imagine, it could hurt their wives and children.
I was honored when receiving the phone call to participate in the documentary. What started out as 3 victims sharing their stories 10 minutes each, ended up with just myself as the victim sharing 40 minutes of the 50 minute documentary. The producer, director and film crew were just so shocked and amazed at what I had gone through that they decided to make the documentary on my life alone.
The other persons in the documentary are law enforcement, activist and attorney explaining the issues we have here about the subject.
As you will see in the film, much of my current life is shown, I agreed to do this under the condition that the word ‘victim’ would not be used and that I could in a positive way with a positive outcome motivate others to come forward and talk about it.
I often write about my perfect life and the crew did a great job in showing all aspects of my life, it was important to leave a positive message for those that are suffering in silence, afraid to come forward or feeling ashamed because they have been told it could have been their fault.
Everyone involved thought the film was very emotionally provoking and I have already been contacted by another group of people wanting to make a movie from my book. I have not agreed to anything yet, and still waiting for the documentary to be shown on TV. My goal is to start forming organizations where we can help those that are willing to come out and talk about it.
Even psychologist, psychiatrists and other professionals that offer therapy to sexually abused clients cannot fully understand or comprehend what happens to us. This was the main reason I chose to study in this field, I wanted to know what causes parents to claim they love their child yet beat the crap out of it everyday. Today, I am one of the few professionals that help other victims but have also had personal experience and I truly can say that I understand. The moment the clients know I had the same experience, they are more eager to share and feel less ashamed. We don’t ask the same questions because we know how it feels. Just by sharing our story is part of the healing process. Knowing that you are not alone and that you are not the only one is the first step towards healing. I was not so fortunate. I was 30 years old when I finally had the courage to tell my mother what happened to me and she accused me of lying. I didn’t have the support of anyone, and this can happen if you wait too long to tell your story, despite the fact most often we can’t talk about it because of the painful memories of it and we want to suppress as fast as we can.
This film was in essence a culmination of my lifetime achievements, it was not until after watching the film that I realized how far I had come. I was so busy climbing the mountain that I never looked down, not until watching this film, and that was the objective for me personally, to send a positive message that regardless what happens to us in our lives it is possible to heal and live a fulfilling life. I never said it was easy, but at the time you don’t think about it, your struggle to survive is all you can deal with.
So, I hope you enjoy the film regardless that you can’t understand it, I am waiting for the film director to return from holidays so that I can ask how to make subtitles for English speaking people.
The last reason why I am making this film available to you is because I have also been accused of making this up or accused of being someone I am not. I hope for those of you thinking that way, that you will change your mind and stop trying to find fault in me. I have faults, but so do you. Why don’t you fix your own faults first and then point fingers? What makes you better than me and lastly, is your life so great and it’s achievements so great that someone would want to make a film about you? This film speaks a thousand words and if I can help one person come forward, then I have done my job. Enjoy.