"Talking about child sexual abuse isn't pretty. It's the worst possible secret you can keep," says writer/producer Jamison Leigh, the writer and producer of the short film "The Life of Riley", which deals with an Olympic hopeful confronting his own memories. Ironically, the short film script and the script to the feature film Strong Men were written several months before the Penn State controversy.
Kayla Harrison's choice to speak up and confront her abuse in court wasn't easy. The pain, the guilt and the shame in discussing something so personal is often the reason why victims are afraid to speak out. Feelings of being judged and having their sexuality questioned are often roadblocks to recovery and healing.
"Kayla's decision to speak out is amazing," says Leigh. "Whenever someone has the courage to cut through the ugliness and the discomfort to talk about what happened to them, they may not realize it, but they are opening the door and giving permission to others who need to talk about what happened to them. A sense of courage wells up from within, and gives them a renewed sense of power they never thought they had."
Giving the big screen treatment to the subject of child sexual abuse isn't easy. "No one wants to sit through fifteen minutes or two hours of an unpleasant topic. You have to concentrate on the victims and the courage it takes to face the darkness even with the slimmest hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel."
Leigh realizes that it is an upward climb to make the short film The Life of Riley and the feature film Strong Men because of the stigma attached to the subject matter. "I've had a major shift in my life that all work should come from a place of service, and that over 20 million sexually abused men and women need to have their voices heard, and know that they are not alone."
Leigh is hoping to attach some major names to "The Life of Riley" and "Strong Men". According to Leigh, having actors like Daniel Radcliffe, Elijah Wood, and Channing Tatum involved, would be a dream come true, because it would further legitimize the subject and make the films accessible to those who need to see it, and those who just enjoy a good story.
Leigh is currently raising funds for The Life of Riley on indiegogo. "If you believe that sexual abuse victims can become victors like Kayla Harrison, we urge you to go indiegogo.com/
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