According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every six American women has been a victim of attempted rape or rape in her lifetime. The subject, in general, tends to be a difficult one to discuss. But when victims feel a need to protect their perpetrators, and sometimes the communities to which they belong, matters can become even more complicated.
These, among several other factors, inspired filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons to explore sexual violence in her new documentary, NO!. The film examines the reality of rape, and the attitudes it sometimes produces, particularly among African-American women. Simmons, herself, has been a victim of sexual abuse.
The completed documentary, an 11-year project in the making, features candid testimonials from survivors. With deep emotion, the women discuss their own paths to healing. They aim to live free from the oppression often associated with being a victim.
Simmons also offers a historical and cultural context, that sexual violence is far from unfamiliar to communities of color, stemming as far back as the slave trade.
In this week's Behind Closed Doors, Aishah Shahidah Simmons talks about her film and the stories behind its creation, including her own.