Trigger Warning: Intimate partner violence

We are a society that likes to make our most private thoughts and details public.

We take scantily clad selfies, post photos of our meals, and share our darkest 3 a.m. thoughts for all the world to see. Yet, one of the things we rarely discuss is intimate partner violence.

Nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused on average by an intimate partner in the United States. This equates to more than 10 million women and men during the course of a year, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

No Ordinary Love, written and directed by Chyna Robinson and released earlier this month, seeks to promote a national conversation about the silent epidemic of intimate partner violence. The award-winning film explores the various strands of domestic abuse, the reasons why some women stay, and the deadly consequences of such a decision.

The film stars DeAna Davis, Lynn Andrews III, April Hartman and Eric Hanson. It’s available on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play and Microsoft.

“I wrote it to answer the question, ‘why doesn’t she leave?’” Robinson said. “I wanted survivors to feel seen and believed. I wanted to show what it’s really like in those relationships, based on the conversations I had with the women (survivors).”

A graduate of Texas Christian University in radio, film, and TV production, Robinson is skilled in creating nuanced films about social issues. Her short film, Greenwood, about a veteran and his family defending their home during the 1921 onslaught of Black Wall Street and its destruction won multiple film festival awards.

Robinson returns to the same approach in depicting intimate partner violence in No Ordinary Love.

Unlike most Hollywood movies that gorge on the physical side of intimate partner violence, No Ordinary Love delves into the issue’s complexities as represented by two couples. A Black woman endures physical abuse at the hands of her police officer husband who struggles with the tension between race and policing. A white woman experiences increasingly violent spiritual abuse from her husband, a pastor. He uses the Bible, traditional Christian teachings, and a conservative worldview inhabited by him and his family to subjugate and abuse his wife.

“I wanted to show the cycle of abuse across the board,” Robinson said. “The police officer and his wife had a great night (in the film). It’s like okay, they are a regular, great couple. The pastor was narcissistic. Coercive control is real. It’s as damaging as any form of abuse.”

As a matter of disclosure, the film triggered me. My mother left my father after years of domestic abuse. It was difficult to watch No Ordinary Love because the film toggled between the stories of each woman with little opportunity for the audience to catch its breath.

“We wanted the stories to collide,” Robinson said when I asked her about the interlocking scenes. “You have an hour and 40 minutes. We wanted the audience to experience different emotions. At film festivals, people were yelling at the screen.”

As a romantic thriller, No Ordinary Love seeks to inform as well as entertain. While intimate partner violence disproportionately affects women, men have a role to play in stopping the violence, Robinson said.

“Other men need to step up and call these other men out,” she said. “It’s a matter of having the conversation, which is why we made this movie. We want to do our part in continuing the conversation.”

Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence. Advocates are available 24/7 to answer questions if you’re seeking resources, information, or questioning aspects of your relationship. Information is available in more than 200 languages. All calls are free and confidential.

 If it’s not safe for you to call or you don’t feel comfortable, you can also access a live chat service here.

***Photos courtesy of No Ordinary Love movie.

Kerra Bolton is a writer and filmmaker based in the Mexican Caribbean. In a former life, she was a political columnist; Director of Communications, Outreach, and Oppositional Research for the North Carolina Democratic Party; and founder of a boutique strategic communications firm.

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