A Canadian film and a US Premiere, “A Better Man” was shown at Cinepolis Chelsea on November 15th, as part of the DOC NYC Film Festival. “A Better Man”, the brainchild of survivor of horrific Domestic Violence, Attiya Khan, documented the arranged meetings and conversations between Attiya and her abusive ex-boyfriend Steve, after 20 years with no contact.
Why did Attiya choose to do this? Why did Steve agree to it? What exactly was achieved? These were some of the questions I asked myself. I don’t know the precise answers to these questions, but I’m going to share some of my thoughts with you, addressing these questions.
I believe that Attiya had in mind that if the film were to include an abuser, as long as the abuser was genuinely sorry for the violence he had inflicted upon his girlfriend and the consequential psychological damage that he had caused, then the film could have a more extensive impact on viewers in terms of providing an opportunity for a greater understanding of what happens within an abusive intimate relationship. Could it be that Steve chose to participate, with a similar goal in mind?
Was Steve genuinely remorseful? Yes! To my surprise, I believe that he was. Do I believe that all abusers feel remorse? No, I don’t. And this led me to ask myself: “Are there perhaps different types of abusers? Can I categorize them? Distinguish them?” Maybe those who were abused themselves. And those who are simply sociopaths.
It seemed to me that Attiya attained a good amount of healing via this process and I am delighted about this. When girlfriend and boyfriend, Attiya was just a teenager, and she was hit in the face by Steve many, many times, dragged across the floor over broken glass, (that he had broken), and choked until she passed out. “The sleeper”, she called that.
Who is a journey from past to present..
I can feel the joy the pain back down memory lane, understanding inside us all we are. We sacrafice accepting all denied talents of self worth. Living in the shadowd experienced not by choice. Learned is a valuable lesson of strength, love and determination to rise above adversity and move forward to new horizons.
Excuse me it seems that I have posted this twice. Please discard the one above that was reserved for another blog..
However it is probably safe to say, experience has taught him/her of how relationship are perceived often it is generational, cultural, stigma,…Nevertheless courage was key for me learning to overcome any obstacle that stands in your path by letting go of your past..
Thank You for this movie review, showcasing the depths of a Survivor. I’d like to see this movie, perhaps. Kudos to the production team for bringing it to NY.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have not yet watched the film but will seek an opportunity to do so.
Whether abusers can feel a remorse is an age-old questions. I have not seen it in my case. The film is an interesting experiment and I applaud Attiya’s courage to talk to her abusers. At the same time, I would warn survivors to believe or hope that the abuser will one day reckon and see their problems or will take responsibility for their actions. It is an interesting experiment when one is trying to humanize a criminal (to me abusers share their mindset with criminals), but let’s not mislead survivors and make them think, the abuser is not in control of their actions. Most of all, I really wonder how making this film impacted Attiya and whether it brought her closure or to the contrary.