A Beautiful Life

11/29/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Deborah Calla founder, writer of The Yummy Book: 25 Recipes For Happy Living, writer/producer of feature films and TV programming

A Beautiful Life, a
film that I produced and co-wrote with Wendy Hammond, opens on October 2nd in limited release and
stars Jesse Garcia, Angela Sarafyan, Bai Ling, Dana Delany, and Debi Mazar.

The film deals with sexual abuse, love and violence. I'm not
going to give the plot away except to say it ends with hope, which is why I
spent so many years of my life trying to make it.

I understand this story.  I, like Maggie, the main character, am a survivor.
 I know what made her run and I understand what made her hide and search
for a better existence.  


My wish is for this film to contribute to the continuing dialogue of how to
better prevent abuse, as well as to protect and understand the survivors of
sexual abuse.  

We need to know abuse occurs in many forms and many times a day all over this
country and it has no relationship to race, gender, religion or social status.
 It happens among the rich and the poor.  It happens to Asians,
Latinos, Caucasians, Native Americans, African Americans and we need to make it
safe for victims to come forward without fear.  And we need to recognize
it happens in many forms; within families, groups of friends or as a random


There are many children, women and men that we never hear about because their
cases are not as outlandish as Jaycee Dugard’s or involves celebrities like
Samantha Geimer and Roman Polanski, but they have all suffered. Sexual assault
and abuse is much more prevalent than we know or statistics show.


Speaking up is important. Learning to have a voice helps victims make the
transition into survivors.  We need to know we are not alone.

Overcoming the
feelings of shame is a long process. It’s so strange that we are not only
victims of others but we become victims of ourselves when we feel shame for a
crime that was actually perpetrated against us.  Maybe we do so because
those who perpetrate violence see us as objects and attempt to take away our humanity and leave us helpless,
powerless and voiceless.

I do worry about
people who are abused who are silent and surrounded by others who continue to
blame them for their role as “victims” and perpetrate another painful form of
abuse: the malice of ignorance.

Survivors of violent crimes deserve to be shielded and
protected and not re-victimized. Our legal system - as it’s set up now - does
just that exposing the victims of crimes to defense attorneys who are often
more interested in winning a case than serving justice, but I don’t know
what the answer is, as even the evil have a right to due process.

So while we may discuss laws and human rights and the creation of this film, we
as human beings can also make sure that we learn to look at a survivor of
sexual assault or abuse with acceptance and empathy, and by doing that we will
make a huge difference in their lives.  Believe me, I know.