A young author is to unveil a film which he shot all over the world talking to victims about the taboo surrounding sex abuse in the black community.
Director Kevin J Marshall’s documentary debut, Untold Story, chronicles stories of sexual abuse from an unsuspecting group of people – black men.
He documents how these men, despite their struggles, have risen above their personal tragic experiences after decades of torment.
He wanted to shed light on an issue which he says has been swept under the carpet for a long time.
He said: “The time has come to be open about these issues to provide strength for other black men.
“My film takes inspiration from real life sexual abuse experiences that have been harboured in these men from their early childhood. “The documentary elicits all sorts of emotions: anger, bitterness, pain and even a sense of relief at sharing their story.
“In some places, you can almost feel the intensity of the emotions expressed as tears roll down the cheeks of these powerful and strong black men. “It’s somewhat chilling, brutal and raw. But at the same time, it is refreshing that someone can be bold about unspoken issues within the black community.”
The documentary was inspired by Mr Marshall’s own experiences growing up, but he wanted to explore the impact of abuse through the lens of other people who’ve equally suffered abuse.
“I want to let past and existing sufferers know that they’re not alone,” he said. “The issue is widespread and not limited to a particular group. It cuts across all races, creeds, colour, and religion. And of course, black men have always been a part of all of these groups but just haven’t been bold enough to step forward.
“The discourse hasn’t been sparked yet because of fear of the unknown, and sometimes, because people are unwilling to take that risk of telling their story, to help someone else.”
The documentary follows six black men from the UK and the US as they come to terms with their abuse.
The documentary was inspired by Kevin writing a book, Running Away From Me, due to be published on May 10, about his own story.
He said: “You can’t bury trauma caused by the past and that is what most abused people try to do.
“They try to bury it and move forward without seeking support and guidance. “You have to live with it. You have to go back to it. It’s part of who we are. You can’t cut it out, no matter how much you want to.
“I realised I have to pick up that boy wherever I had left him and walk with him. “I allowed him to carry a burden that was not his responsibility to deal with alone.
“I have made this film for him and other little black boys who were robbed of their childhood and forced to grow up too soon.”
The 34-year-old, born and brought up in Brixton, began his journey when his son Xzavier was born in 2015.
He said: “It dawned on me that I have to do my part in order to set an example for others who have lived through this trauma. “You never see black men coming forward when it comes to sexual abuse cases.
Take the #MeToo movement as an example. “By hiding, we allow the younger generation to hide as well. “We tell them it’s okay and predators know this and they take advantage of the shame and stigma. “We need to create a safe environment for our kids to speak out against sexual abuse.”
Mr Marshall’s abuse went on for several years. He said: “It’s a bit hazy. I just remember being touched inappropriately. I started to act out, it felt wrong. I remember having nightmares, being scared to speak to anyone
. “It got to the point where it was just unbearable and nobody could understand what I was going through. I started isolating myself. I wanted to just roam the streets and be alone.”
After sharing his story of abuse on Facebook in 2016, Mr Marshall started receiving messages from other people who had been through similar experiences.
Through these messages he went on a trip to the US, Canada and the Caribbean to meet other survivors.