Elevate Difference

Sin by Silence

There are not many US citizens who do not recognize a pink ribbon as the rallying fight against breast cancer. Even more so for the red ribbon, as it raises the voices of the AIDS epidemic. However, most faces would not correctly identify the cause of the purple ribbon: domestic violence. A purple ribbon is probably a little too uncomfortably similar to the purple bruises a women suffers every nine seconds, according to the film Sin by Silence, which documents the heart-twisting story of incarcerated, battered women serving maximum sentences for killing their abusive partners.

Sin by Silence chronicles the movement of the Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA), who unexpectedly find a healing sisterhood in the isolating walls of prison and used their collective strength to bring personal, familial, and judicial change in their lives. Uncontrived and starkly original, the moving narratives are enough to leave the viewer in near distress. The preliminary question of how each woman survived quickly turns into arrows targeting the legal system that punishes already beaten, raped, and tortured women with hefty prison sentences. Their crime? Battered person syndrome and refusing to be killed by their spouses.

Throughout the film, these women prove much more than mishandled, husband-killers. They are emotional, insightful human beings caught in a frighteningly narrow judicial system that fails to comprehend the effects of repeated and brutal intimate partner violence. It will be impossible to view the prison industry and its supposed rehabilitation efforts the same way again.

What will most move viewers is the unwavering support and courage these women lend each other in their collective cry for freedom. Their commitment to education and truth telling transcends their own pain and the bars that ostracize them from society. Sin by Silence is a deeply important film that will leave a probing mark of disturbance on the conscience of anyone who watches it.

Written by: Lisa Factora-Borchers, January 4th 2011