On September 30th, at 7PM in Murphey 116, the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and Project Dinah held a screening of the film “Speak,” based on the eponymous award-winning novel, starring actress Kristen Stewart.
In the film, Stewart plays Melinda “Mel” Sordino, a high school freshman who socially ostracized for being a “squealer,” after calling the police to a party in which she was raped. Traumatized by the experience, Mel struggles to come to terms with the event, and cannot bring herself to tell anyone, becoming effectively mute in public. Unable to articulate what happened, and isolated by teachers and peers alike, Mel is forced to deal with social rejection and shame on top of the horrors she experienced already–feelings that are not helped by Mel’s distant and emotionally-unavailable parents.
The central theme of the story is the social isolation and ostracism victims of sexual violence often feel–especially if they cannot bring themselves to report the incident or confront the experience alone. Indeed, Mel’s struggles and travails could be those of any victim of relationship violence–sexual, emotional, or physical–accurately depicting the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that often accompany such experiences.
After the screening, a discussion circle was held, facilitated by OCRCC, to discuss viewers’ opinions and insights into the film’s subject matter. Audience members had the opportunity to talk about the silencing factors in society that prevent survivors of violence from talking about their experiences, which makes the issue a particularly difficult one to address.
Warning: Content in this film may be upsetting and triggering for some. Viewer discretion is advised, particularly for past victims of domestic and sexual violence.