This article and video contain graphic information about sexual assault and violence which may be triggering to survivors. If you feel traumatised or unsafe after seeing this material we urge you to call a trusted friend, a hospital, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or the NSW Rape Crisis hotline on 1800 424 017.
It seems almost daily we hear yet another story about someone being raped. Women, children, men, mothers, uncles, grandmothers, daughters, boyfriends, girlfriends and sons. No one is impervious. No one.
It can happen on our very doorstep.
In 1994 a local woman was raped and tortured for five hours on Main Beach in Byron Bay.
In 2014 when Eve became a filmmaker, a tiny idea grew and kept nagging at the back of her mind – to make a film about the culture of rape and its victims with Faith at its centre – a face and a voice behind the nameless and faceless statistics of rape.
‘To me it has always felt like rape goes virtually unpunished. Like Faith herself says, she was lucky in one aspect that she looked like a rape victim. It was easy for her rapist to be convicted. It’s not so for thousands of others who don’t “appear” to be violated.’
Jeffery says that often rape survivors feel much shame. It’s paralysing. It stops them from going to authorities and there are fears about having to face their attacker in court – so they stay silent. She feels that if this crime was brought into the light and victims felt more supported, it would go a long way toward healing those hurt and laying blame where it belongs.
‘Faith was raped on a beach in 1994,’ says Eve. ‘The type of clothes she wore are not guilty. Walking alone at night didn’t rape her. Her age, sex, colour, cut of her hair, or th smell of her perfume were not the perpetrators. A rapist, a man, grabbed Faith and dragged her into the dunes where he had forced, violent, non-consensual sex with her, and then, he tried to kill her so he wouldn’t get in trouble for it.
‘He knew he had committed a crime from the second he cut her bra with a knife, the same knife he later used to stab her in the chest.’
Jeffery felt so strongly about the issue that she entered a competition in 2016 and was chosen as one of six filmmakers from across the country to bring the story to life. The 10 minute film Faith is a result of that project.
‘I entered the St Kilda Filmmaker Challenge with my concept to make a documentary about Faith. I hope to one day make a feature on the subject but I thought a short film was a good test-run of the idea. It turns out the idea is a good one as we have had an incredible response.’
Since then the film has screened in several festivals including the Byron Bay Film Festival, festivals in Europe, has won a competition in New Zealand, has had an invitation to screen in Paris and a very special request from South Africa.
‘One of my warmest filmmaking moments was when a school teacher from South Africa wrote to me. She saw an article that came out of a London Feminist Film Festival panel describing Faith as the “right” way to depict victims of sexual violence in film. She had recently started a women’s group at her school and she wanted to use it as a tool of empowerment for her students.
‘It made me feel happy and satisfied that girls in a country known for its sexual violence against women, might find a glimmer of hope or empowerment or even just a sense that they weren’t alone, from a film I made on Byron beach.
‘These stories need to get out. Stories of rape need to come to the surface so people can become so outraged, that the issue becomes more than a queue of perpetrators in a courtroom – rapists who often get no more than the barest minimum in the way of punishment, for a crime that for so many victims, actually feels worse than death.’
Getting the film in front of as many faces as possible is the aim for Jeffery and her Cloudcatcher Media partner David Lowe and they have put their money and their film, where their mouth is, with the doco now available online for free.
‘Last night Faith was released online to be viewed freely by anyone who chooses,’ says Jeffery.
‘The film has had its festival run. We wanted anyone who could use this as a tool to help themselves, or help rape survivors, to have free access. It’s not about money for us, it’s about doing our best to make things better.’
The film can be seen on: