At a certain point in my life I realized that I was living in “the upside-down.” It was when I started to work out my past, that I developed this concept. Only recently I came up with the name, thanks to the Netflix series, Stranger Things.
Early in my childhood, I was abused. I can rattle my brain for a while to try and remember a life before it started, but it’s no use, sexual trauma is my first memory. Similar to a Vietnam vet, my mind and body was in shock. Unlike a war vet, I had a full day of elementary school ahead of me. Without any coping skills, or even the vocabulary to express what was going on inside my head, I can say now, that I didn’t even realize I was out of sorts. I remember explaining certain symptoms to my school nurse. I told her that I must be sick because I felt like everyone was walking around, from class to class, and I was watching them from a TV screen. If only I had known the word disassociation.
Suffice it to say, there was a decade of trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I was going to the same school as all of my friends, and participating in all of the same activities. Why was my trajectory so different?
It took time, but as I started to untangle the past, and give myself the space to feel the pain, I also began to learn about the effects of childhood sexual trauma. It became clear that although my life path closely resembled that of my peers, the abuse had set me on a paradoxical track. A slap felt like a hug, and a hug felt so uncomfortable. How was I going to explain that to people? When you grow up knowing which way is up, can you ever really understand another way of thinking?
What I found in the research about healing from child sexual abuse was the power of connection; and that the greatest threat to a victim’s healing process is the isolation that comes from a lack of understanding. As long as the family and friends of a victim can’t understand his or her experience, the victim is alone in the pain. The kicker is that the studies are not writing about intellectual or sympathetic understanding that comes with a head nod and a pity smile. It is the real knowing of someone’s experience; empathy.
Moving forward, my goal became finding the mode of communication that would create emotional connection. And in my experience, expressive art transcends. It soars above the extraneous noise; connecting people to each other. Expressive art conveys the message that is otherwise lost in translation. It says, “Experience this with me, and we will move forward together.”
That is the process which led me to create Still Feeling, a documentary in production, which celebrates the human spirit. This film features four artists who are elevating their experiences of child sexual trauma through artistic expression; demonstrating the beauty of human resilience. Still Feeling invites victims to connect with their family and friends, and journey with us. At the end of this feature length documentary, our goal is for victims to feel validated, and for their loved ones to be able to say, “Now I understand.”
Our crew is traveling to Israel, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Canada to spend time with the artists, and document their artistic processes as they create and perform original pieces that communicate their experiences to create emotional connection.
As the audience moves through this visceral journey, they come to an understanding of what child sexual abuse really is. Through expressive art, full access is granted into the isolating world that entraps victims of childhood sexual trauma, and the audience gains a new perspective of an issue that they would normally be unable to experience.
There are only 15 days left in our all or nothing Kickstarter campaign, where we still need to raise $15,000 of our $25,000 goal. These funds will be used to begin the production of our first segment. Click here to become a supporter, and visit our website at www.stillfeeling.org to learn more out the film.
Follow us on social media to stay up to date and join the conversation.
Miryam Rabinowitz is a filmmaker on the east coast who spearheaded Still Feeling as an experiment based on her own life experiences. What she found in the research about healing from child sexual abuse was the power of interconnectivity. And that the greatest threat to a victim’s healing process is isolation.
The emotional disconnect between victims and their communities can be attributed to fear, and an inability to relate to one another. But she believes that all feelings are universal, and what is crucial is how those feelings are expressed.