In the popular media

I was up last night watching a Swedish movie called Lilja 4-ever, and this film inspired me to write a post about movies and books which feature the topics of sexual abuse, trauma, abuse, and rape.

At this point I have to say that please be really careful with what you choose to watch and read; traumatic and painful imagery and topics can sometimes very surprisingly hook into your own pain and memories, and so be mindful of how much of that you can bare. It is okay to be in a vulnerable place and avoid any reminders of human pain.

I think sometimes I have thought I was strong enough; I remember being quite young but caught reading an adults’ book about two young women getting lost on a road trip and ending up in a house where one of them got raped, and I cried and cried when my mom found out that I was reading the book. She tried to console me by trying to tell me about rape, when in reality the only thing I cried about was the cat that the women had had, that had run away and gotten hit by a car!

I can get very emotional especially over words or imagery, and so it comes as no surprise that when I went to see the film Mississippi Damned at the BFI LGFF a year ago, I started crying during the first ten minutes and didn’t stop until the end. My friend and I went to speak with the director, and even then I kept sobbing (at the same time wishing she – herself a survivor of abuse whose life story was depicted in the movie – would console me as she surely should recognize a fellow survivor…No, she didn’t.)

This movie is an absolute gem – a heartbreaking survival story of a young Black woman growing up in poverty in Mississippi, where her whole surroundings are full of abuse, poverty, substance abuse and illness. It is a powerful and beautiful story of one woman deciding to overcome her setbacks, and I must admit the acting is top-notch even though a lot of the actors and actresses were pretty unknown at the time of the making of the film. Definitely worth watching, I highly recommend this one!

Mississippi Damned

As I mentioned in the beginning, I watched Lilja 4-ever last night. I thought it was going to be a tragic Swedish movie about a Russian girl, but (although it was all of those things as well) it turned out to be a lot more. Painfully beautiful story of a young Russian girl wanting to escape the sorrows of her existence in poverty in small-town Russia, she falls in love with a guy who sends her to work in Sweden, only for her to find out that she has ended up as a sex slave unable to escape.

The beautiful ending seals the deal, and I really did shed a tear for the girl, mostly because I could really connect with the rawness of her pain and the desperation in her young soul.

Lilja 4-Ever movie poster

There is another piece of media that I would really recommend – A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown. This is another survival story, this time of a young African American girl growing up in a foster home where she endures sexual and physical abuse, and grows up with her soul shattered and ends up a crack user on the streets of L.A.

The story is inspiring as in the book Cupcake (her real name!) recounts the events that made her who she is today, and how she lifted herself literally from the bottom of hell to a top place in society. I swear you will cry at least once whilst reading!

If you have any suggestions on what to watch or read that would relate to the mentioned issues, leave me a comment 🙂

Have a wonderful day,



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