Mexican writer/director Lucía Gajá takes us to five countries to tell us the life stories of women who, despite the distance, language, social class and cultural differences, have something in common: all are survivors of domestic violence.
Intimate Battles couldn’t be a more appropriate title. These women have fought many personal battles: against their abusers, against the authorities who decide if what they experienced was really violence, against vicious physical attacks and their consequences, against social stigma, and even against themselves. Maybe when reading or listening to the testimonies of survivors certain questions come to your mind: “Why did they stay with their abuser?”, “Why did it take them so long to report him to the police?”, “Why and how did she allow that to happen?”, etc. Well, through Gajá’s interviews we learn that they have asked themselves the very same questions and this is their hardest battle. They have survived the violence but they keep trying to find a reason why this happened to them, wondering where all their strength went and imagining how to keep living after what they had to endure.
The most remarkable aspect of this project is that the director doesn’t portray these women as either victims or as motivational posters. Both the director and protagonists acknowledge how difficult this process is in all aspects and how easy it would be to stay silent, to do nothing. But they decided to take the hard road. For Gajá, it was by talking about domestic violence in Mexico where just this year 227 women have been killed and by putting the spotlight on how violence follows certain behavioral patterns and how everyone—no matter their social condition, education, job or beliefs—can suffer it. For the protagonists, it was by choosing to fight, by trying every day to get their lives back and by devoting themselves to help other women.
This movie is inspiring, not simply because the director wanted it to be, but because it shows us how strong women can be, how powerful support networks are and the importance of raising our voices to make change. These women didn’t become numbers in a bunch of statistics and they’re trying to tell us that nobody else, in any place of the world, has to.
Alejandra Pérez Álvarez is a graduate in Communication Studies from Mexico. Learning how to consume and approach media with a critical point of view changed the way she chose and watched movies and TV. That’s why now she’s committed to spread awareness about films directed by women through her Tumblr page Female Directed Films.