The life stories of the members of CWAA are on one level heartbreakingly tragic, but on another level incredibly motivating. The founding member Brenda Clubine, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1983 “is proud of the woman that she is today.” What do you think gave these women the strength to overcome the bitterness and pain of their situations and turn it into positivity?
The strength that these women have gained while behind prison walls is simply incredible. The courage that they have found within was sparked from weekly CWAA meetings. They came together to share their pain, share their stories and share their struggles. It was through this sense of sisterhood that they were finally able to understand that they were not alone in their pain and that they had a voice that was worth being heard. It’s definitely ironic that prison allowed these women the opportunity to become the women they were always meant to be.
Did you create close friendships with these women?
The women of CWAA are my heroes. They lived, breathed and survived violence. Yet, the key is that they survived! I have learned more from them than I could in any textbook on domestic violence. They are the experts on the issue and I never imagined that nine years ago when I first started volunteering with the group that a film would be the result. And, as relationships were built, the women soon found out that my background was filmmaking and approached me to help tell their stories. I knew with this request came a long journey, yet I knew their voices must be heard. So, what began as a dedication to help a friend, mobilized into an effort to help many.
Your documentary is an educational resource that is used all over the world. With the help of the members of the CWAA you learn about the inherent warning signs of an abuser. What are those warning signs?
It’s exciting to think how far the film has reached – from Seoul, South Korea to Cleveland, Ohio we have been making an impact. Yet, for each person that watches the film it is our goal to make sure they never forget the women of CWAA. Never forget their stories. Never forget that their lives changed the day they met their abusers at the age of 18 and 19 years old.
Nearly 80% of teens experiencing violent relationships continue to date their abusive partners. It is our crucial goal to reach young males and females while they are developing relationship boundaries that influence potentially life-long abusive relationship patterns. Yet, instead of me telling you about the warning signs, take a minute to experience the impact yourself at http://www.youtube.com/sinbysilencedoc#p/u/4/9IEKtI86K90
You say on your website that “every one of us is responsible for changing the tragedy of domestic violence.” What are the first steps an individual can take to combat the problem of domestic violence?
Every day we can take a step towards improving the quality of our own lives and communities. I wish there was a quick solution, but the fact is that this is going to be a long journey. A simple thing that everyone can do is to watch Sin by Silence. Get to know the incredible CWAA women. Through their stories of terror and hope, we can all better understand the cycle of violence, the signs of an abuser, and how each and every one of us is responsible for changing the tragedy of domestic violence.
[To view the film, take advantage of this special offer, available until April 30, 2011. Buy one copy of the video and get another copy to give to a friend. Details here: http://sinbysilence.com/pixelproject.]
Do you think governments can do more to help combat the problem of domestic violence?
I do think the government plays a vital role in the solution for a violence-free future. Yet, I think the more important role lies within communities, friends, family and neighbors who step in to help someone experiencing abuse. Just simply asking a friend if everything is okay could be the difference between life and death.
How can we support the work of the CWAA?
There are so many ways to get involved and help convicted survivors. Just a simple letter can be a light in such a dark place…especially after being incarcerated for more than 20 years. We have their addresses listed on our website at http://www.SinBySilence.com.
There you can also find some great additional resources, and we encourage everyone to join us on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/SinBySilence for updates when there are screenings, petitions and new ways to take action.