When a friend told Christi Arce that her boyfriend beat and abused her, she knew she had to do something about it.
So Arce produced a short film titled “Nena” with the goal of creating awareness about domestic abuse and child abuse within the community. It encourages victims to come forward and tell their stories.
“Nena’s case is just one of the many voices in need of being heard,” said Arce, 28, who says her work touches upon topics “the community doesn’t like to talk about” but that are more common than what people think.
The film tells the story of Nena (represented by actresses Michelle Fuentes and Mylena Barrios), who was sexually abused by her stepfather from age 6 through age 17. She later moves in with her boyfriend hoping to put an end to her nightmare. Instead, she becomes a victim of domestic abuse when he also beats her.
According to Arce, a Cuban-American filmmaker from Miami, people who are victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence find themselves in situations that make them more vulnerable, and “their cases are in obscurity” for years.
“If victims felt more support from the community, maybe they wouldn’t feel ashamed to talk about it,” said Arce, who believes it’s time for people to stop viewing the topic as taboo. “It’s 2015 and this issue should have been resolved a long time ago.”
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the film will be donated to No More Tears, an organization which helps immigrant women who have suffered domestic abuse. Somy Ali, founder of No More Tears, stressed the importance of community involvement in the resolution of these issues.
“Victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse feel ashamed of their situations and don’t want to admit their problems or even talk about them,” said Ali, who added that 66% of the victims assisted by the Florida-based organization are Hispanic.
According to Ali, more could be done to educate the public. Creating literature in several languages and distributing it in public places could encourage victims of abuse to expose their cases and seek help, she said.
Ali also encouraged young artists to work on projects similar to Arce’s, saying that “the more people who see them or learn about them, the more awareness is created about this problem.”
“Nena” is an independent production of La Bella Presents, founded by Arce, and based in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. The filmmaker said she gathered funds for the production by working on other photography projects.
“Nena” has been screened at various local film festivals. The DVD costs $20 and is available on www.labellapresents.com.
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