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HBO to Air Movie About How Repressed Childhood Abuse Can Affect You in Adulthood


Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

“The story you’re about to see is true… As far as I know.”

These are the opening words of the trailer for “The Tale,” a film based on writer and director Jennifer Fox’s own experience of childhood sexual abuse. The film, which premieres on HBO on May 26, centers on the character Jennifer (played by Laura Dern) as she begins to piece together repressed childhood memories and realize her first sexual experience was actually child abuse.

According to an interview with the LA Times, Fox was 45 years old when she finally recognized the sexual relationship she had at age 13 with her 40-year-old track coach was sexual abuse. She explained that for years she had viewed the trauma through rose-colored glasses as a means of survival, and decided to turn her story into a screenplay to examine this facet of processing abusive memories from childhood.

“The reason I put my name on it was so that nobody could say it was a lie,” Fox said. “Nobody could chop the film down by saying, ‘Oh, it’s just fiction. Sexual abuse doesn’t look like that.’ I am here to represent that it does.”

“The Tale” has been praised particularly in light of the #MeToo movement for adding important commentary about how sexual abuse in childhood can impact adult mental health. The film gives a poignant example of what it can look like for a survivor to delve into repressed memories of abuse and undergo the process of remembering.

Repressing or being unable to recall abusive memories is something many survivors experience. In a study of women in outpatient treatment for substance abuse who also experienced childhood sexual abuse, 19 percent reported they forgot the abuse for a period of time, then later were able to remember.

“Abuse is complex, and our society wants to make it black and white. Telling it complexly does not change the fact that it was abuse. When we simplify it, we hurt everybody,” Fox told the LA Times.

You can watch the full trailer for “The Tale” below. It premieres on HBO on May 26, 2018.

Screenshots via HBO YouTube channel