Voices of Hope: Break Through the Silence
The Sound Stage theater presented Voices of Hope at Santa Monica College’s (SMC) main campus for one weekend Thursday, November 1-4. This docudrama production aims to shed light on sexual, domestic, Title IX, and child abuses in hopes of breaking the silence surrounding victims. “It doesn’t cover everything but as far as the umbrella of the suffering of victims, it’s really got a lot of stories weaved together, of people who gone through multiple levels of abuse by people they know and people they don’t know,” said Terrin Adair, director of Voices of Hope.
The narrative does not hesitate to lay bare the tales of the men and women who are haunted by their violent past. Performers usher audience members into the perilous distress and discomfort of the abused, while firmly weaving the repressed thread of those whose once felt achingly voiceless and alone. “It’s breaking the silence, that’s what this play is about. This is a very well rounded production. It doesn’t just target female victims – it’s male victims, female victims, it includes all stories,” said Adair. Each of the victims stories are told through a combination of monologues and at times compassionately bring hope and courage through song.
Voices of Hope is an adaptation of the book Voices of Hope: Breaking the Silence of Relationship Violence written by Pamela Lassiter Cathey, and Dr. Wind Goodfriend. Although the book tells a number of gruesome accounts on sexual assault and abuse, it does send a hopeful message that victims can overcome and persevere these traumatic situations. “Considering the times and things that are going on in the world, it’s a message that needs to be heard. I feel like its a message that some people who could be struggling through sexual assault and domestic abuse need to hear in order to know that things are going to be okay,” said actor William Morris.
College and university students across the nation could be victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse, including SMC students. According to SMC Institutional Research, in a Fall 2017 survey, Student Voices: Student Survey on Sexual Assault and Harassment, 632 students were asked if they had ever experienced "any form of sexual assault before coming to SMC?” 23.7 percent of students reported that they have. About 4 percent of students reported experiencing assault by force or the threat of force while attending SMC and about 3 percent reported experiencing an attempted, but unsuccessful sexual assault by force.
After each performance, a panel of experts took to the stage to discuss any questions or concerns from the audience. The panel consisted of representatives from Rape Treatment Centers, SMC Title IX Office, Wellness Center, Santa Monica Police Department and much more. “I feel like a lot of people hide behind the shadows and I hope this inspires them to come out and tell their story or seek help for what they’re going through. I hope that people are no longer bystanders and are able to stand up against all abuses,” said actress Leslie Pine.
The shared stories of the victims took courage and strength to display to an audience. One could hope if there was an audience member watching this production struggling with their own abuse, these stories would feel like watching a flare gun being shot in the sky after floating in a dark ocean for quite sometime, and perhaps maybe this would help break through their silence.