Spotlight: a true story of abuse in the public eye

“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one,” Mitchell Garabedian. 

Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor from California, has agreed to testify before an open committee on Thursday, Sept. 27. Ford will be testifying against Brett Kavanaugh, A Supreme Court Justice nominee. 

Twenty-seven years ago, a law professor named Anita Hill testified against then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas. Both Ford and Hill claimed they were sexually assaulted by the respective nominees. Both Kavanaugh and Thomas have denied all allegations made against them. 

It’s funny how history repeats itself. 

As a witness to this historical event, I felt the need to follow the case. I read the headlines every morning, and unintentionally discussed it with a fellow student each day. As the week drew to a close and it was time for my Friday night movie selection, I chose “Spotlight.” 

Thomas McCarthy’s 2015 Best Picture Winner seemed appropriate to end the week. The film follows The Boston Globe newspaper team as they write a report about child molestation in the local Catholic Church. Watching it in the year 2018 gave me a new perspective. 

Based on true events, the film starts in 2001 and ends in 2002. It takes months for the journalists to gather the information and deliver a well-rounded and factual report to the public. They talked to lawyers, cardinals, former and current priests, victims and anyone tied to the Catholic Church. It didn’t matter if they wanted to talk or not, the truth was going to be told. The team discovered that over 80 priests had sexually assaulted children during their tenure. The journalists calculated it to be 6 percent of the entire priest population in Boston, meaning the number of victims goes well into the thousands. A number of children walked the streets of Boston having been sexually assaulted and told no one. 

The film ends with the journalists receiving phone calls from dozens of victims who had been sexually abused. I felt terrible and wanted to know why they waited so long. Why did Hill and Ford wait until their abusers’ nominations to speak out? I had to remember that these people, Hill, Ford and the sexually molested youth are going up against age-old institutions with numerous ride or die followers. These institutions won’t fall away or crumble under accusations. 

The other part I had to consider was that these people had experienced something very traumatic. Sexual abuse and harassment are not things you can easily forget. To pressure these victims into speaking when they’re not ready would be insensitive. 

The only thing I had left after the film was respect. I wanted to stand and applaud them. The victims in the film had to walk around every day and continue on with their lives because that’s what society expected them to do. To describe in intimate detail to the world how an event has scarred you is not something many are capable of doing. It’s important that society stop probing victims for explanations, but take their stories at face value. Explanations are important but should only be told when the victim is ready.

Although they may damper my weekend, I will continue to watch films about this subject matter. It reminds me society still has work to do. While I may be upset for a few days, some are disturbed for a lifetime. 

Danielle Jackson

Freshman film major

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