Films to Watch During Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Resilience Staff Members
**Trigger Warning** – The following media contains strong themes of sexual assault and may be triggering for some individuals. If you start watching the show and begin feeling overwhelmed or emotionally weighed down, take a break before continuing. Supplement it with a light-hearted show to ensure you’re also practicing good self-care. This is an important topic to learn about, but make sure to connect and process with supportive individuals in your life.
With the statewide “stay at home” order, April is looking a lot different than normal for a majority of us. Rather than enjoying some outdoor time and spending time reconnecting with friends and family after the cold of winter, we’re finding ourselves social distancing and staying indoors. Like us, you’ve probably been filling your days with indoor activities such as reading and endlessly streaming television shows and movies.
April also marks the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). This is an annual campaign to raise awareness of the tragedies and heartbreak that sexual assault causes. The goal is to start conversations about what sexual assault is, how to prevent it, and how to support survivors who have experienced it. You can get involved with SAAM at home! Our staff has compiled a list of movies, shows, and documentaries that you can binge-watch this April!
“Unbelievable” – This Netflix mini-series follows the true story of a teenager who was charged with making a false report to law enforcement about having been sexually assaulted, and the two detectives who work together to investigate and uncover the truth.
It portrays the very real struggles of being re-victimized by the criminal justice system, feeling unbelieved and unsupported by family and friends, and the emotional impact being sexually assaulted can have on an individual.
“Unbelievable” deals with the tough subject of sexual assault, but does it with grace. The producers have worked hard to ensure the show accurately depicts different responses survivors may receive when or if they disclose being assaulted, but also shows the healing that can begin with connecting with genuinely supportive people.
“The Mask You Live In” – This documentary follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity.
Pressured by the media, their peer group, and even the adults in their lives, our protagonists confront messages encouraging them to disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify and degrade women, and resolve conflicts through violence. These gender stereotypes interconnect with race, class, and circumstance, creating a maze of identity issues boys and young men must navigate to become “real” men.
Experts in neuroscience, psychology, sociology, sports, education, and media also weigh in, offering empirical evidence of the “boy crisis” and tactics to combat it. . The film explores healthy masculinity, gender socialization, and the pressures on men and boys including the impact of negative gender norms on men’s mental health. The film encourages gender equity and healthy interpersonal relationships while critically exploring media messages. The Mask You Live In ultimately illustrates how we, as a society, can raise a healthier generation of boys and young men.
“Audrie & Daisy” – This compelling film is about two high school girls from different parts of the country who both experience sexual assaults that involve alcohol and were documented by fellow students with cell phones and shared widely on social media. The film follows their stories through interviews with their family and friends and other community members, documenting the enormous impact of trauma on their lives and the online bullying and victim blaming that they endure.
The hope of the accompanying curriculum is to promote healthy teen relationships and responsible digital citizenship with an emphasis on consent and bystander intervention. The film includes a discussion guide for parents to talk about sexual assault and consent with their young teens.
Find it here: http://www.audrieanddaisy.com/
“Sexual Assault of Men Played for Laughs” – It’s hard to overstate just how common jokes about men being sexually assaulted or sexually harassed are in entertainment media. Comedic situations are typically designed to demean, humiliate, or emasculate a male character for being the victim, or potential victim, of sexual violence. This is the first of two video essays on this topic. Part 1 focuses on humor involving men sexually assaulting or harassing other men. Part 2 examines media in which women are depicted as the perpetrators.
Find it here: Part One, Male Perpetrators: https://youtu.be/uc6QxD2_yQw
Part Two, Female Perpetrators: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nheskbsU5g
Short Video Clips for Teen Dating Discussion
Dating Abuse: Tools for Talking to Teens helps students recognize healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships. This 5-minute video is part of a workshop for adults and could be viewed by parents and teens to discuss healthy dating relationships, the warning signs of abuse, and what consent should look like in relationships. (2014)
Find it here: https://vimeo.com/99610424
The Signs was created and written by Long Island teenagers about teen dating violence and explores non-physical types of abuse such as control, isolation, and threats. Ask students what signs of abuse they noticed in the 4-minute video and how they would help a friend in that situation. This video addresses the pressure to send nude photos. Discuss how consent and coercion play out in this video. (2014)
Find it here: https://vimeo.com/85676862
Tea and Consent presents a metaphor of offering someone a cup of tea as a way to understand consent. This 3-minute “clean” version is appropriate for students in 8th-12th grade. (2015)
Find it here: https://vimeo.com/128105683