I’m floored by the sheer courage and strength of survivors when I hear their journey identifying root causes of oppression and healing. Sin By Silence, a film about the first inmate initiated domestic violence group in the history of U.S. prisons, screened to an audience of PLU students, staff and Tacoma community members the evening before the start of the Paving a Rocky Road: Removing Barriers to Men’s Engagement conference, hosted by Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) Men Against Violence in Tacoma, Washington.
Sin By Silence looks at the legal system’s response to domestic violence through the voices of women survivors, their children, psychologists and law enforcement. One of the women featured in the documentary graciously attended last night’s screening to speak about her journey as well as field questions about the filmmaking process, advocacy, and identifying signs of an unhealthy relationship.
While watching the film and hearing the survivor address the mostly college student audience, I reflected on the significance and relevance in contextualizing identities and histories in order to heal and support each other. Women that are incarcerated experience a level of oppression that requires our full attention as much as the violence happening outside of prisons. The experience is further compounded when the individual is of color, an immigrant, poor, elderly or has a disability, to name a few identities that prisons, like many institutions in the United States, fail to adequately address needs and services.
The documentary not only raises questions surrounding violence, gender norms, law enforcement, political environments, public/mental health, but also highlights a community-driven solution toward healing. Invigorated by the women’s strength in the awakening of their response to violence, I am eager to engage in dialogues for the next few days that will consider the intersectionality of oppression, identities and agency in the movement against gender violence.