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OHA Annual Meeting: Spotlight on Documentary Film “Private Violence”

Private Violence, an HBO documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, intimately reveals the stories of two women: Deanna Walters and Kit Gruelle. This feature-length documentary film explores a simple, but deeply disturbing fact of American life: the most dangerous place for a woman in America can be her own home. Every day in the US, at least four women are murdered by abusive partners. This film follows Kit Gruelle, an advocate for victims of domestic violence and herself a survivor, as she assists Deanna Walters, a victim held hostage by her husband who lived through a horrific beating, in her pursuit for justice. Through multiple interviews with Gruelle and Walters as well as having a camera follow them as Walters takes legal action against her husband, the film grapples with a key question often asked of domestic violence victims, “Why Didn’t She Just Leave?”

Private Violence shatters the brutality of this logic. Through oral history we bear witness to the complicated and complex realities of intimate partner violence. As Deanna transforms from victim to survivor, Private Violence begins to shape powerful, new questions that hold the potential to change our society: “Why does he abuse?” “Why do we turn away?” “How do we begin to build a future without domestic violence?”

The film screening is co-sponsored by the Dept. of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery, Director of the Southern Oral History Program and a producer on the film, will discuss the making of the film before the screening and facilitate a discussion with the audience afterward.

This session is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is free and open to the public.

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