A documentary film about childhood trauma, domestic violence and the way forward

The science is in: About 50% of us had childhoods that have negatively impacted our adult lives. Difficulties range from an inability to form lasting intimate relationships to addiction, domestic abuse and violence. 

We know that connection and intimacy are crucial and curative yet committed relationships are increasingly breaking down.

Broken families and the spread of intergenerational trauma are further aggravated by an increase in isolation and the escalation of abusive communication.

We are now aware of the gendered aspects of DV. It’s time to raise awareness of troubled childhoods on adult outcomes.

Recent neurological research clearly traces how adverse childhood experiences negatively impact healthy brain development. Our knowledge of how to relate to others is built into our brains from the moment of birth. At this point a million new neural pathways are laid down per second. And we keep the ones that our experience proves over and over regardless of whether they are factually correct.

Fortunately, we now have science backed knowledge of what’s required for healthy brain development in childhood. And we know what it takes to get an adult’s brain back on track. Crucial elements are connection and compassion.

The impact of childhood stress and trauma is impaired brain development

The impact of childhood stress and trauma is impaired brain development

A child fills their brain with stories about themselves and the world learning from what goes on around them. If these are negative, bleak stories those beliefs will be carried into adulthood often with nightmare consequences. These may include abuse, violence, addiction, alcoholism, mental illness or any combination of these.

The Dangerous Dance features stories of adults who have managed to turn their lives around by changing their beliefs about themselves the world. Thanks to recent neuroscientific studies at Harvard and elsewhere we can literally see the new neural pathways that are being built.

We talk to experts, some with crucial personal experience of the problem, who help adults and whole families to change the way they see the world and how they behave. 

They explain the neuroscience of healthy brain development in childhood and how we can change our brain in adulthood to create better adult lives.

We need to start asking ’What happened to you?’ instead of ‘What’s wrong with you?’

The documentary’s goal is to create culture change that lowers the incidence of domestic abuse and violence.

Culture is basically made up of the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, evidenced by how we behave. This is true both at the group level and individually.

As adults, if we find ourselves acting destructively towards others or ourselves, we will likely have to explore our childhood when we first learnt ‘how life is’, and how to behave to get by.

As children we didn’t have the freedom to leave, so we had to adapt, no matter what. Our childhood behaviour got deeply wired in our brains and will play out for life unless we consciously make changes. The blossoming field of neuroscience has a lot to offer to this end.

There is now a better awareness of gender inequality in the domestic violence mix. This documentary seeks to add the significant part childhood trauma plays and put forward ways to address this. Compassion for dysfunction needs to be the norm not the exception.