Harrowing stories from local women, performed by local actors: This Is Not Love is a powerful film

  • Almost one in three women aged between 16 and 59 will experience domestic abuse in the home
  • One woman is killed every four days by a male partner in the UK

This Is Not Love is a strikingly powerful film made by local women speaking frankly and openly about their experiences of domestic abuse and coercive control.

The film, that will be released later in the year, has been made by Women’s Voice and Hastings In Focus has been lucky enough to see it and to hear the sometimes hard to listen to stories from local women who have been the victims of domestic abuse. All the stories are read for the film by professional actors all based in the local area.

Ann Kramer, Chair of Women’s Voice says the idea to make the film came out of an open discussion and then, “snowballed”. Women’s Voice had been approached by a local women who had been in an abusive relationship for about 12 years: “She wanted to share her story,” says Ann. “She felt it would be important for women in the same situation and would also act as a warning for younger women.”

As the commitment to making This Is Not Love grew Women’s Voice used word of mouth to let woman know what they were planning and to ask any woman who had been a victim of abuse to share their stories – promising complete anonymity – very quickly the stories started to come in.

The issue was then how to present them to the public and Sabina Arthur, who describes herself as an ‘actor and activist’ and who is part of Women’s Voice suggested using professional actors to read the stories. More than 30 applied to take part and they were whittled down to the six who eventually made the film.

But the challenge of bringing This Is Not Love to fruition did not stop there because in Lockdown each actor had to film their own monologue in isolation, in their own home.

“I was just blown away, the quality was so high,” says Ann.

Sabina then found a local film editor who put the material together and work is underway to put the finishing touches to the film which will be released on YouTube soon.

Of course the continuing restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic mean the launch of the film will be done in a very differently from the way it would have happened in ‘normal’ times. There will not be the opportunity to launch it at a public event where discussion about its content and the issues it raises could also be discussed.

Despite this Ann has big ambitions for the This Is Not Love. She hopes Hastings Borough Council will be able to use it and she has also been in touch with White Ribbon UK, an organisation that works to prevent violence against woman, and she would like to see it being used in schools too, she is desperate to find ways for the film to reach out to younger women.

Quotes from the film:

  • “It felt like there was real danger everywhere…”
  • “They call you. text you and question you to the point where you question your own sanity…”
  • “Before anyone else can love you, you must love yourself first…”
  • “The is not love, it is control and manipulation…”
  • “Sex that had no love, sex where I felt deeply ashamed…”

“We’re really looking for advice on how the film can be used once it is ready for release, we’ve spoken to the police and they are interested in seeing it… we need to consider how the film can be used to achieve maximum impact,” says Ann.

“The film cannot just be watched passively, it needs to be a stimulus for action,” she adds.

Ann says it’s imperative to have the film ready as soon as possible pointing out that since March there has been a huge increase in the demands being made on Women’s Aid and abuse of all kinds against women has risen ‘dramatically’ during the pandemic.

Women’s Voice has recently heard that it has been successful in winning funding from Comic Relief, money that is to be used in the continuing challenge of overcoming domestic abuse and coercive control of women in the local community and that money might well come in useful, to make sure that This Is Not Love is launched with the fanfare it deserves.

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