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.