Q&A: The Second Closet filmmakers on love and violence
When we discuss domestic violence, it is described as male on female violence. We almost never consider that domestic violence can occur in a same-sex relationship, which stems from a fear of asserting one's homosexuality publicly. This leads to same-sex domestic violence being reported less frequently.
Experts said that the largest number of cases are due to violence being more spontaneous and easy in an equal relationship, because both partners belong to the same sex.
Domestic violence is the violent behavior with which one partner tries to dominate and control the other.
Not only can violence be physical but also psychological, especially when the attacker tries to manipulate the partner continuing to denigrate, accuse or criticize them. This will make the victim more unsure, disoriented and therefore increasingly dependent on the dominating partner.
To support victims and help others understand that this problem exists, there are associations and projects such as Bleeding Love, which was founded by the Daphne Programme of the European Union that involves several EU member states like Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania, Portugal, United Kingdom and Hungary.
Bleeding Love wants to learn the causes of domestic violence, the characteristics of the person who commits it, the ways in which it takes place and, thanks to an awareness campaign, to make trans women, bisexuals and lesbians more aware of it.
The Italian association Rete Lenford, an advocacy group for LGBTQ rights that promotes different calls, participates in this project.
Rete Lenford recently promoted a challenge for women to make a short film about domestic violence.
Q: First of all, what do you do in your life? Making short films is a passion or it is your job?
Sara: I am a filmmaker, I have always been involved in documentaries, and this is my first work of fiction.
Stefania: My life is a mix of two worlds: the world of art, where I experiment with theater, performance and film, and the world of the research and the organization of cultural and educational projects and events, especially in field of gender studies and the performing arts.
Q: What is the title of the short film that you made? What is the subject you treated?
Sara: The title of our short film is "The Second Closet." The film tells the story of two women living a relationship where there are mechanisms of psychological and physical violence, and it also talked about how it is difficult to recognize this situation and break the link.
Q: What is the goal of this short film?
Stefania: Unfortunately, the issue of domestic violence within loving relationships between two women is still a taboo. On the one hand, in Italy there are very few studies, reports and articles that deal with this phenomenon. On the other, totally lacking services, doors that can assist women who suffer violence from their partner.
Therefore, this phenomenon remains in darkness and the women involved do not have the ability to find information, tips on how to get out of an abusive relationship and have not even spaces, places where to report their condition. So The Second Closet aims to visualize this phenomenon through the cinematic representation.
Q: What have you done to understand the mechanisms in a violent relationship?
Stefania: To write the story and screenplay, we carried out numerous direct and indirect interviews through an anonymous online questionnaire that we have prepared in cooperation with our friend Sarah Faraone.
The stories that we received helped us a lot to grasp the mechanisms more recurring in a violent relationship. In addition we are also been in anti-violence door in Rome managed by the Cooperative BeFree of Rome. We have interviewed and we realized that some of the dynamics of violence are universal, even if a couple is heterosexual, lesbian or gay. For us it was very important in the script represent the different dynamics of psychological, physical and economic.
We were interested to represent the violence as a relational dynamic: two people who live their love story also very beautiful, engaging and for different reasons run into mechanisms of control, jealousy and mutual possession that become increasingly recurrent. The couple's relationship becomes a prison and incessant violence.
Until it comes the awareness of what you are living, of the violence that you have given and received, and then you decide with courage to get out of a couple's relationship unhealthy.
Q: What was the most difficult part of this project?
Stefania: The most difficult part was the process of writing, but it has led to a great satisfaction. Many people after seeing the short contacted us to thank us for the work done because it treated violence in a universal way: the relationship between the two protagonists, Anne and Miki, becomes a mirror where both men and women may reflect the their couple’s dynamics. We have received beautiful messages of women who had never spoken to have suffered violence from their partner, and after seeing the short had the courage to touch this taboo, analyze it and share it with loved ones.
Finally, I leave you with these words, the narrow circle of a relationship and the wide circle of the other whom you cannot tell. A doze [sic] leading to stumbling and fear until you opt out.
And then you start living.