The first time I spoke to a survivor of domestic abuse was an experience I’ll never forget. I spent an hour sitting in my office, listening intently on my phone. I was safe there. This was my private space. I listened to stories of physical attacks, subtle manipulations and verbal abuse. It was incredibly tough. I’ve never had anyone be so frank, graphic and honest about such a horrific subject matter. Made slightly stranger by the fact that this was our first conversation.
I thanked him for his time and told him I was so glad that he was now a survivor. I hung up the phone and I sobbed for ten minutes before going into my house and hugging my wife and one year old son. At this point, I knew that my film exploring domestic abuse against men had become my mission.
My name is Ben S. Hyland and I’m a filmmaker based in London. Eight months ago domestic abuse against men wasn’t even on my radar. Like a lot of people the term domestic abuse conjured up images of an aggressive alpha male with clenched fist, towering over and a downtrodden woman who cowered in the corner. It wasn’t until I received a phone call from an actor searching for a filmmaker to help him bring to life a project about DA against men that I started my research.
I want to point out that I find DA and DV abhorrent across the board. It disgusts me and I knew I would be treading a fine line writing about this divisive subject matter. At times when I’m questioned for writing about this I think about the words shared with me by a much smarter individual. The crime is the abuse NOT the gender.
Along the way I found some statistics that stated one in three DA victims were male. A statistic that surprised me. I found more stats that contradicted the former. I read reports of stats being independently researched and then discredited, only to be challenged again. I took a step back. I’m not a documentary filmmaker. I write fiction. For me this film wasn’t about stats. This film was about people’s experiences. That stat might be ‘one in three’ but even it were ‘one in ten’ or ‘one in one hundred’ it didn’t matter. The fact that it was happening at all meant it was an important story to tell.
So I spoke to multiple survivors, I spoke to multiple charities, I brought on a script consultant that counsels victims of abuse and is a survivor himself. I did everything that I could to write a script that depicts real life. I have something that I hope will raise awareness, help victims, comfort survivors and start a conversation that more people should be having.
PADLOCK shoots in June. If you would like to find out more about the film you can watch their Kickstarter campaign video here:
If you have any questions about the project you can email Ben at [email protected] or tweet him @Ben_S_Hyland