Wij praten niet (trans. We Don’t Talk) is an intriguing documentary of in-depth conversations between therapists and youngsters who are entangled in the complex network of sexual violence and exploitation. It takes us into the inner struggle of four characters in their process to break free from this world while they are all still — to a greater or lesser extent – connected to it and can’t seem to part with.
The film offers an intimate insight into the reminiscent of their experiences and process of extrication, where the distorted self-judgment of guilt and shame holds them captive. A close look at the dynamics of therapy, pointing out the importance of signalling youngsters who experience this and to start conversation in a world in which they often feel it’s not safe to talk.
By getting into the minds of these young people, director Marjolein Busstra makes the complexity of the problem and the surrounding gray area visible in a careful and nuanced way. With her camera we witness the intimate therapy conversations and she shows what it does to the young people when they are listened to. We are caught by the painful experiences of the young people and, as a viewer, we get the oppressive feeling of the suffocating situation. Visual, metaphorical scenes alternate these dialogues and give vent to the heaviness in the conversations. Despite their severe situation, the youngsters bring a lightness with them with humor, self-mockery and a sober look.
That’s how you find out that the violence they deal with is so commonplace that even the word rape no longer impresses. We see how the therapists’ dedication and the dynamics of their conversations stimulate the youngsters to put their past behind them and work on repairing their self-image – without condemnation, shame or guilt. Step by step they learn to set their own boundaries, to make their own choices and to give their anger and damaged trust a place in order to regain control over their own body and even to love themselves a little.
Important information for teachers:
We recommend showing this film within small groups of students, where you as a teacher can guarantee a safe atmosphere. The film discusses a sensitive topic that can trigger trauma in students who have experienced sexual violence. However, the film is a good way to warn vulnerable young people about the dangers of a loverboy, among others. Refer students for whom this film gives rise to unpleasant experiences to the Sexual Assault Center.