We have been fortunate over the last six months to have been given access to a number of short films designed to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation, many of which are addressing abuse from new angles, utilising different approaches.

The unique power of short films is that they engage the audience in a short span of time. They often challenge and stir up emotions in seconds, unlike feature films where the audience has to wait hours for the plot to unfold.

One such film is called ‘Gaslighting’ and focuses on the link between offending behaviour and abuse. The term “Gaslighting” has been used colloquially since the late 1970’s to describe efforts to manipulate someone’s sense of reality. The term was coined from the 1944 movie Gaslight, staring Ingrid Bergman, about a man who plays mind games with his wife to convince her that she is losing her mind. Gaslighting describes the systematic pattern of abuse by which the abuser manipulates factual information to give the victim the impression that they cannot trust their own senses. Most of us would recognise this as being part of the grooming process seen so often in cases of Child Sexual Exploitation we deal with.

The Gaslighting story is based on true events. It is about a young girl, Brooke, who from the age of eight has been in the “system” – known to social care and the youth justice service. Her story is an important reminder of why some children offend and how the underlying cause of the offending is often poverty and abuse.

Child sexual abuse and exploitation are horrific crimes which take advantage of the power imbalance between an adult offender and a child victim. Offenders use that power to render the victims helpless and unable to look for a way out. This film captures the plight of those children and shows how they sometimes try and deal with the abuse they are suffering. It is an excellent reminder for professionals and communities to look beyond the presenting behaviour of children and young people, to keep an open mind and consider some of the horrific reasons that may be behind their actions and emotions. The film can be accessed at https://www.impartplayer.com/products/gaslighting 

The film’s producers are interested in collating information about the number of views as this will highlight the impact that this film is having and the absolute need for films like this to be made to promote awareness and positive change.

The producers would be grateful if you could leave a review on the Gaslighting/Impart Player link that would help keep a record of viewings and therefore the impact that this film is creating.

A number of organisations in the US have already picked up the film and shared it via their networks demonstrating the global reach of the film.