Q&A: ‘Private Violence’ points up struggle to expose spousal violence
On Monday, Oct. 20, the documentary "Private Violence" will premiere nationwide on HBO. But Sioux City will get a sneak peak, thanks in part to the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention.Cindy Waitt, director of the WAVP, is an Executive Producer, with Gloria Steinem and others, of the documentary, and will screen the film at the Riviera Theatre. The event is free and open to the public. The show is at 6 p.m.
We got a chance to ask Waitt a few questions about the film and her efforts to shed light on difficult subjects.
Q: How did the idea to produce Private Violence come about? A: I met Kit Gruelle in Del Mar,Calif., in 2005. At that time, Kit, a longtime advocate and survivor of domestic violence, was interested in gathering footage for a film about the history of the anti battering movement in America. She had already started this project and the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention came on board to help her with that.
In 2007, Kit became acquainted with filmmaker Cynthia Hill, who eventually decided that following Kit through her work as an advocate in North Carolina could make a compelling story, and a story that hadn't been told before.. It was through Kit's work and others who are featured in the film, that they were able to tell the stories of Deanna Walters and other women survivors.
Q: What surprised you most about producing this film? A: I think the most surprising thing was how long it took to fund the film. I wrote a piece called "The Tale of Two Documentaries" that talks about that. Here's a part of that piece that I recently updated.
"While "Private Violence" is driven by the same hopes, concerns, and passions as “Bully”, and is now perfectly timed due to the recent NFL controversy, the supporters and crew of “Private Violence” faced a tougher path to completion. Production and post production of “Bully” took about two years to fund. “Private Violence was started nearly 8 years ago. For all of us who worked to see that film completed, it was a long road.
It happened faster for “Bully” and that didn’t completely surprise me. In my 20 years of philanthropy, I’ve seen children’s issues get funded first. They are the future, and we have to work with them now. It also had never been done. It was desperately needed and it was time.
But we have to see that the first time some children see or witness violence isn’t the school yard. It’s where they live. Approximately 8.2 million children were exposed to family violence in the last year alone. A 2011 CDC study told us that kids who witness violence in the home are more likely to be bullied, and more likely to become bullies themselves.
We've been so fortunate to have great women and men come into this project with support, but it took many years to get it where it is now."
Q: Domestic violence has been in the headlines lately because of an NFL player-related incident. Do you think this issue may finally be addressed by the media, and in turn society at large? A: It has been said that the Ray Rice/NFL story and the media that has accompanied that has perhaps created the most intelligent conversation we've had about domestic violence in the history of the movement. There are moments that we consider "tipping points". One was in 1994, with the O.J. Simpson case and the passage of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. My colleague Esta Soler, of Futures without Violence, one of the early authors of VAWA tells the story that when they lobbied for a bill outlawing domestic violence in 1984, one politician called it the "Take the Fun Out of Marriage Act." That was 30 years ago.
Every movement has moments, and 1994 was one of those. Since then, domestic violence has decreased 64 percent. But with more than three women a day being murdered by an intimate partner in the United States and with nearly 1 in 4 women in this country reporting violence at some point in her life, we have a long way to go. Kit Gruelle, in this film, takes us through the unseen stories, and shows us how far we DO have to go. And we hope that what is happening, now in 2014, can be one of those moments that move us forward as a society.
Watch the TrailerQ: Why do you think it is important to tell stories like this one, and the one you told in "Bully"? A: I think the best line I've heard is from our co-executive producer Gloria Steinem in New York a couple of weeks ago, "We're not going to have a peaceful and democratic society until we have peaceful and democratic families." Both "Bully" and "Private Violence" show us that we must work together for a less violent world.
Q: If there is a single takeaway for viewers of this film, what is it? A: I like the line on the HBO poster. "It's not always easy to leave." We have to reframe the question. Instead of "why doesn't she just leave?," let's change the conversation to "Why do they abuse?" “Why do we turn away?” “How do we begin to build a future without domestic violence?”
Q: This is the second film that the Waitt Institute has helped to produce about violence. What other issues do you hope to address in the future? A: I think there is one more area that we'd like to explore. Stay tuned. 🙂
About Cindy Waitt:
Cindy Waitt is Executive Director of the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention. She serves as Director of the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention, a board member of the Waitt Foundation, and the Kind World Foundation. Prior to her 20 year career in philanthropy, she worked with at risk youth and their families for 10 years.
Under her leadership, WIVP has been a lead supporter of the strategy of engaging men and boys in violence prevention through her support of Futures without Violence’s awareness and on ground campaign, “Coaching Boys into Men” and Jackson Katz’s “Mentors in Violence Prevention.”
She also is an Executive Producer, with Gloria Steinem and others, of the documentary “Private Violence", and is the Executive Producer of the award winning documentary “Bully.” Cindy has been directly involved in three national Ad Council Campaigns from 2002-2006 with Futures without Violence and was a co sponsor, with AOL, Facebook, and Marlo Thomas’s “Free to Be” foundation, and Lee Hirsch, of the 2012 Ad Council anti bullying national campaign.