Documentaries

Behind the Doc: 'Speaking the Unspeakable'

Experts estimate that one in four girls and one in six boys have been sexually abused. They say the actual numbers are probably much higher since many cases go unreported.
Posted 2018-03-29T20:43:36+00:00 - Updated 2018-04-02T19:08:44+00:00

Experts estimate that one in four girls and one in six boys have been sexually abused. They say the actual numbers are probably much higher since many cases go unreported.

The reason for that is that many victims keep the abuse a secret out of shame or guilt, or sometimes fear of repercussions from their abuser. It’s that secrecy that makes the problem far worse, not only for the victims, but also for society as a whole. How can we solve problems if we don’t talk about them, whether within our family, our community or our country?

It’s that desire to generate a broader conversation about child sexual abuse that led Knight Chamberlain to contact us about his own.

Our documentary “Speaking the Unspeakable,” tells Knight’s story and that of his stepbrother Michael who was also abused as a child. A stranger attacked and raped Knight when he was nine-years-old out walking one evening in his hometown of Brevard, North Carolina.

As part of his healing process Knight wrote a book about his ordeal. He also gives public talks about it. In doing both he realized that having a broader conversation about child sexual abuse is necessary and important for our society to deal with this insidious problem. That’s why Knight took his efforts one step further.  He contacted his old friend Bill Leslie, a long-time news anchor here at WRAL. Bill in turn put me in touch with Knight. Over the next few months Knight kept in contact with me, sent me a copy of his book and urged me to produce a documentary on his family story and what it reveals about the broader problem of child sexual abuse.

Part of my pitch to management to encourage them to let us to produce “Speaking the Unspeakable” was that it was a topic we had never tackled before. And that’s part of the problem. Incidents of child sexual abuse regularly make the news but the conversation rarely goes beyond that. It’s uncomfortable to talk about and so people don’t and that’s part of why it continues to fester throughout our society.  We hope “Speaking the Unspeakable” and its bonus content that provides advice and resources, helps start some conversations so that people learn how child sexual abuse happens and how it can be prevented.

Credits