Film maker Kaitlyn Boxall survived life at the hands of a violent father thanks only to the bravery and love of her mother who protected her while pregnant from domestic abuse.
Her film Behind Closed Doors was developed to raise awareness and empower victims of domestic abuse to escape their life of violence.
The story of the main character Lisa Crawford is inspired by her mother Marisa’s shocking ordeal.
Kaitlyn is lucky as she has no memory of the violence as she was just three weeks old when her mother fled Thornton Heath and the abuse of her father – to the safety of a women’s refuge – after he went abroad for three days to watch football.
In an interview with The Chronicle she spoke about how her expectant mother Marisa had taken the ‘full force of each beating, to protect her pregnancy bump’.
Kaitlyn who produced and directed the Independent Film reveals the shocking words er father etched on her mother’s memory: “I will not be happy until you and the baby in your stomach, are in a coffin.”
There has been a huge spike in rates of domestic domestic violence during lockdown with a 20 per cent increase in domestic violence incidents in Croydon.
Kaitlyn said: “If the film, ‘Behind Closed Doors’ can save at least one person’s life, then I know I have achieved that. To all victims who are living with domestic abuse, before lockdown and during, I promise you that there is hope! Material things do not matter, the big posh house, the out lookers looking in, thinking your life is perfect. The psychological affect is devastating. Get out, and do not be ashamed to ask for help. Peace of mind is invaluable. You CAN start again, and you WILL.”
Kaitlyn’s mother Marisa had been with her father for two years when she became pregnant at the age of 30 and had left her job looking after 72 elderly people. He had begged for children but once she had fallen pregnant he had ‘full control’.
She lived at his flat in Thornton Heath throughout her whole pregnancy and said Kaitlyn: “This is when the violence started, so my mother’s abuse continued throughout her whole pregnancy. She could not escape until I was born. My mother and I talk about it now. I was there weeks old at the time, and at three weeks old, I would not have understood the situation.
“The emotional impact was more my mother, and still is to this day. My mother had met a circle of friends in Thornton Heath, they were wonderful to her. She could not tell any of them, that she was planning on leaving, as it would create risk of my dad finding out.
“Once he realised that she was gone, he took her to court for parental responsibility just to spite her. Till this very day, he has never used it and has never ever been a part of my life. He only ever wanted pure control.”
There is now more help available to victims of domestic violence but the lockdowns have led to a huge rise in cases. The government recently backed a new campaign where domestic abuse victims can “Ask for Ani” at pharmacies as part of a codeword scheme to indicate they need help.
Kaitlyn added: “My mother’s dear friend, Noel, was her hero. He as an outsider, could plainly see the bruises on the back of her ears and head. He would let her stay at his as a place of safety. However, of course, when she returned home, she would have to go through another beating. The rest of her bruises were always covered up with clothes and she felt too ashamed to confide in anyone.
Recently Marisa tried to trace Noel on Facebook to thank him but sadly he had passed. She was however able to share with his family her eternal gratitude for his support.
Kaitlyn added: “The rates of domestic abuse have spiked since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, and it is horrific. Mum was very proud of the film, but it was a hard watch for her. She wants to plead to every woman, that you can get out of it!
Twenty years ago, there was very little help. She spent two years in a refuge, and today she now says, ‘To leave your house keys on the table, and go to a refuge is tough. To live a lifetime of abuse, where your children see you being beaten, is far, far worse.
“My mother met many women during her time at the refuge. She is so thankful that I was only three weeks old. So, I, myself, do not hold any memories of those dark times. Many women in the refuge, had older children, who had already witnessed so much.
“I pledge to any victims; do not let your children witness such horrific actions of violence. I understand it can be difficult, but a lifetime of abuse can be changed to a lifetime of happiness. You can do it! It is heart-breaking, as you probably still love your abuser, because they make it seem normal. You end up knowing no different.”
Watch Behind Closed Doors at: https://filmfreeway.com/BehindClosedDoors783
1 and 2: Main character Lisa Crawford; and actress working through lines with film maker Kaitlyn Boxall.
3. Marisa with Kaityln as a baby