Finding Hope in a Tragic Situation

“You just told my story."  These words are in response to the movie PRECIOUS - words that have come from someone in the audience every time the film has been previewed, according to actress Paula Patton, who plays the teacher in the movie.

My friends Gene, Sharon and Ron and I saw a preview of this movie at the Aspen Film Festival a few weeks ago, where Patton was available for questions and answers following the showing. 

The movie PRECIOUS opens in theaters in November and is the story of a high-school girl who is pregnant with her father’s child – for the second time.  She cannot read or write, is teased by classmates for being fat and whose home life is a horror.   As often happens, there is a teacher who makes a difference.  

This is not a movie that wallows in depression, rather one film critic says, “It vibrates with the kind of energy derived only from anger and hope.”

It is now in theaters and I daresay many people will leave saying, “They just told my story.”

Incest does not discriminate.  It happens in families that are financially privileged, as well as those of low socio-economic status.  It happens to those of all racial and ethnic descents, and to those of all religious traditions. 

Victims are boys and girls, infants and adolescents.  It occurs between fathers and daughters, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters and mothers and sons.  Perpetrators can be aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, step-parents, step-children, grandparents and grandchildren. 

Incest has been cited as the most common form of child abuse.  It can have serious long-term effects on its victims, such as eating disorders, sexual problems as adults, Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – which includes amnesia, nightmares and flashbacks. 

Victims typically suffer from intense guilt and shame, low self-esteem, depression and self-destructive behavior such as substance abuse, sexual promiscuity and prostitution.

The process of recovery can be exceptionally painful and difficult, but resources are available – books, self-help groups, workshops, short and long-term therapy programs and possible legal remedies. 

Our job is to listen, believe and help them.

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