Exposed – The Arc of Trauma and Abuse


Exposed [originally titled Daughter of God] is a 2016 American thriller film, written and directed by Gee Malik Linton [credited as Declan Dale], at his directorial debut. The film stars Ana de Armas, Keanu Reeves, Christopher McDonald, Big Daddy Kane, and Mira Sorvino.

While perusing NETFLIX for a music or nature documentary the other night, I came across the movie, Exposed. I had stumbled upon the movie previously as well, and though I was trying to stay away from anything dark or violent, something was compelling me to watch the film. So I did.

As a police officer investigates the death of his partner, the case exposes disturbing police corruption and a dangerous secret leading him to a troubled young woman.

Isabel is the young woman, a kind and caring teacher, and loving wife. She and her family and friends, despite their best efforts and intentions to enjoy life, find that trauma can be chronic and complex, it does haunt our lives.

One can look up reviews on the movie and the Wikipedia page for the film, so further information on that is easily accessible.

My reason for writing about the movie is how it made me feel and think in regards to the arc of trauma and abuse that was etched in so many of the people’s lives portrayed in this film. Complex and chronic trauma were present in their day to day living. The consequences of silence, keeping secrets and the denial of trauma and abuse’s impact upon individuals and a community, had me thinking of my own life and the lives of so many others I know. Trauma and abuse’s cousin, tragic grief, was also a mainstay in this film.

And spoiler alert, though I love to see films or read a book with a happy ending, not here, just a true slice of life and how people still find a way to carry on, despite the hurts and horrors of their lives.

The slices of life contained in this film had many elements I could identify with, the code of silence, keeping secrets and denial.

Part of the back story in this narrative, was of a brutally, crooked cop, and he was a rapist. The ‘code of silence’ from his fellow officers allowed for this corrupt human being to continue on with his legacy of hurt and destruction. We have witnessed this all too often with the nonstop Catholic Church cover-ups of childhood sexual abuse. There are too many stories out there of corrupt cops who have also been allowed to flourish by their brethren looking the other way. The headlines are filled with the same type of stories involving teachers, college faculty, businesses leaders, politicians, etc. The Me Too Movement and survivor groups are helping to break the silence and change the paradigm, but we still have a long way to go.

While watching the movie, my head was swimming with the thoughts and feelings of my siblings and of myself, how would our lives had turned out if there had not been that damn code of silence and keeping family secrets. Maybe, my brothers David and Danny, would not have taken their lives and they’d be here today.

I couldn’t stop thinking about my father’s friends, thugs is a better word. One of them was a cop who had been thrown off the force for brutality. They joked about this as if it was a badge of honor. My father loved to regale me with the stories of how his friend would. “pull over hippies, niggers and spics and beat the shit out of them.” I’ve always wondered, how long did the code of silence endure before this cruel human being was finally thrown off the force. How many lives did he hurt and destroy? My father [and mother] and his friends were all big strong men who brutalized other human beings. Their sexual abuse of children was just another part of their makeup. How many looked the other way at what they did? How many lives would have been different had they not fallen prey to these monsters?

The monsters of my life and others who I know, were mirrored in this film.

So yes, keeping secrets, codes of silence and denial have their impact, and most of society does not see this, nor do they want to see the truth. I see this simple truth played out everyday in the silence and denial of my remaining siblings, some cousins, friends and daughters. It hurts, but it is something we all learn to live with. But I do think it takes a piece out of you, just as it does for the folks in this film.

So, a short sharing here of how a movie left me feeling discombobulated with a deep sadness, and yet within that depression and dissociation came the resolve, that I will continue on. I still find life to be beautiful, I have great friends, family and peers in my life, they are gifts that will always be honored and cherished.

My intent in this piece was to help raise some consciousness of how devastating trauma and abuse can be, and we truly don’t know what others are experiencing in their lives. To be honest, most of us only get to share snippets of the horrors we have known. All I hope and pray for, is that there be a greater awareness and community of compassion and caring to help heal the lives of our fellow human beings.

Thank you & take care, Michael Skinner

PS  Warning – there is a brutal rape scene and violence in this film.