Filmmaker Frances Nkara first met Robert Hall on a weekend meditation retreat. Hearing him improvise a talk, she was struck by how bravely and generously he spoke about the sexual and physical abuse he suffered as a young boy. “At 66, Robert had found a way to relate to the experience openly and beyond the necessary stages of anger,” Nkara says. “I sensed that he was not in denial, but had truly found peace with it.” She decided to create a film to tell his story.
At the age of four, Hall was kidnapped and went missing for days. His family sent a search party and found him alone and half-naked in a shed. It was 1938. As Hall explains, his family “decided that the best thing to do was to let me forget the whole thing, and everybody ignored it. They didn’t even call the police.” Traumatized, Hall stopped talking for a year. His mother felt guilty about the incident and often whipped him until he bled. When Hall was 11, his family’s hired hand began sexually abusing him — an abuse that continued for years. Feeling alienated from the rest of his family, he secretly fell in love with his abuser. As a young child these events were confusing and overwhelming, and Hall repressed the memories of his abduction until he was 32 years old.
Unfortunately, the terrible events that happened to Hall while he was growing up are not isolated occurrences, but part of a larger social epidemic. One in four women and one in six men report having experienced sexual abuse. Many suffer in denial or silent fear of being seen and shunned as damaged. They struggle wondering if they will be haunted for life, and often question if such a life is worth continuing. Nkara believed a film about Hall would help address the issue through the experiences of someone who had come to terms with it personally.
- Frances NkaraProducer