Trauma

Film Review: Storyville - The Work: Four days to redemption

Every now and then a documentary or film comes along that touches a wound within yourself. Months can roll by watching monotonous movies that often make you feel they have taken something from you rather than given you something in return. At the weekend this documentary was recommended to me and it didn't disappoint. 

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Four days to redemption shows the process of an American charity that takes men into prisons where they offer male convicts the opportunity to undergo a transformational four days of therapy focused on sharing circles, family constellation work, meditation, breathwork and trauma release. 

The men who are taken into the prisons from the outside are curious about who they are as men, feeling drawn to the process as a way of answering a call within themselves. 

What I witnessed was raw male wounds being opened bit by bit as I witnessed man after man break down into their hurt child and reveal truths about themselves that otherwise would be hidden by layers of violence, aggression and prowess at not revealing their vulnerabilities. So many of the convicts relive traumatic childhoods where they were beaten, assaulted, neglected and abandoned.

So many of these men have wounds so deep, so locked away, hidden from their consciousness and scarred by life that they have developed ways of surviving and living that have ended with them being locked up. They are repeating the same patterns of abuse and behavioural mindsets they learned as children. 

For the first time many of these men have a space to really be vulnerable and let out the pain of their traumatic experiences. We see some of the most violent men in America at a maximum security prison began to let out that pain among other men who facilitate a space where they can be heard, accepted and healed. 

As a regular committed participant of male sharing circles this documentary triggered my male wounds deeply as I couldn't help but connect with one of the participants. With my own healing journey into the masculine unfolding before me this documentary touched me emotionally.

The film finishes with a paragraph stating that every convict who has taken part in this therapy and gone on to be released has so far not re-offended. For those who don't know, most convicts will be locked up again after being released, constantly staying in a cycle of crime, poverty, addiction. 

This is a must watch for any man wanting to see how therapy can access his inner wounds when done in a space of experienced men who are there to facilitate healing and change. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09c1rch/storyville-the-work-four-days-to-redemption

Jonny Woodall
Medical Herbalist and Flower Essence Therapist
Bsc (Hons) Herbal Medicine
National Institute of Medical Herbalists

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