A Documentary Film based on the Memoir by Jennifer Storm
by Sylvia Caminer, Tracy Schott, and Jennifer Storm
Shining a light on dark secrets reveals the path to recovery.
A 12-year old girl is raped during an alcohol-induced blackout, beginning a ten-year journey into darkness. Jennifer Storm’s story teaches us important lessons about the role of trauma in addiction and illuminates a new pathway to recovery.
“Our secrets keep us sick.”
Those words changed everything for Jennifer Storm. With her wrists still stinted and bandaged from a brutal and nearly fatal suicide attempt, Jennifer was just days into rehab when she heard those words, spoken by an alumnus of the program. Jen realized that her silence fed her shame, and that her shame kept her bound to her addiction. And she wasn’t alone.
Based on her highly acclaimed autobiography, Blackout Girl is the story of Jennifer Storm’s descent into addiction and despair after being raped, and her subsequent triumph over darkness as she moved past her trauma to become the leading voice for victims in Pennsylvania.
Jennifer’s story demonstrates how rape, childhood abuse, and other traumatic experiences create a fertile ground for addiction and other self-destructive behaviors and offers insight into what the recovery and mental health treatment communities need to do to deal with these issues more effectively. Up to 90% of women with addiction issues report a history of sexual abuse or severe violence. In spite of this, the prevalent treatment modalities in drug and alcohol addiction do not directly deal with trauma. In the film, Caron Director of Psychology Dr. Michele Pole will demonstrate that effectively addressing sexual assault through trauma informed treatment is the key to preventing the cycle of addiction and trauma.
As the #MeToo movement has demonstrated, survivors of sexual assault are the most powerful voices in helping us understand the impact of trauma on addiction. We’ll hear from Jennifer and other survivors how they have turned their trauma into triumph. By giving victims the power to speak their own truths, we learn that they have something to teach us all.
Ultimately, Blackout Girlis a story of hope, meant to inspire the many victims of assault struggling with addiction to not give us 5 minutes before the light comes in.
Since October 2017, the #MeToo movement has revealed that over 18 million women and men have experienced unwanted sexual advances, with 27% of women experiencing sexual assault. The numbers are staggering. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Women and men are speaking out about their experiences of rape, many for the first time. The media is taking notice and women are feeling empowered by sharing their collective experience. But there is much more to this story.
The impact of rape and sexual abuse for most victims is devastating and pervasive. Depression, anxiety, flashbacks, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are common reactions to rape. RAINN, the nation’s largest sexual violence organization, describes suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, sleep disorders, dissociation, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and substance abuse as common reactions to rape.
The overarching message of BLACKOUT GIRL is that trauma, especially sexual trauma, is a pivotal experience that leaves its victims vulnerable to addiction, eating disorders, suicide and other severe behavioral and mental health reactions. Reviewing the latest research, we’ll show how pervasive sexual trauma and other Adverse Childhood Experiences are in our society, and the long-term impact on victims, including coping behaviors that set them up for recurring victimization.
Blackout Girl will show that addiction and other mental health disorders are in fact a coping mechanism for dealing with their trauma. By supporting victims as they bring their secrets into the light we can effectively help them move from victim to survivor
Sexual Assault & Addiction – Understanding the Connection
Statistics of sexual violence in the United States tell a grim story:
- 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience sexual violence* before the age of 18
- Up to 25% of college age women experience sexual assault
- 1/3 of rape victims in the US are raped during adolescence
- 93% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are known to the victim (80% parents)
- Women aged 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape or other sexual violence
- About 35% of women who were raped as minors also were raped as adults, compared to 14% of women without an early rape history.
- 28% of male rape victims were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger
- 86% of women in prison were victims of sexual violence
Sylvia Caminer – Director, Producer
Sylvia Caminer is an Emmy® Award-winning director with extensive credits in theatre, film and television. She is the producer/director of the award winning documentaries TANZANIA A JOURNEY WITHIN, and AN AFFAIR OF THE HEART, which chronicles the unique relationship between pop icon Rick Springfield and his intensely devoted fans.
Tracy Schott – Producer/Writer
Tracy is a filmmaker and social worker who has worked extensively with victims of trauma in both of her careers. Her award winning documentary film, FINDING JENN’S VOICE, examined intimate partner homicide and has gone on to be a centerpiece of training police, healthcare professionals and therapists.
Dr. Michele Pole, Ph. D. — Director of Psychology
Michele is a clinical psychologist licensed in Pennsylvania and is the Director of Psychology at Caron. She joined Caron in 2008. Dr. Pole earned a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Kent State University in Ohio with a training emphasis on research and evidence-based treatment. Dr. Pole completed her Pre-Doctoral internship at Temple University Department of Medicine and her Post-Doctoral training at The Renfrew Center, both in Philadelphia. With her emphasis on the value of research to guide her clinical practice, Dr. Pole has published in peer-review journals. The Third Wave CBT is her identified theoretical orientation and she is a member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) and The Association for Contextual Behavioral. Sciences (ACBS). She has expertise and training in evidence-based treatments addressing PTSD and trauma including Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, and Eye-Movement Desensitization Therapy (EMDR). Dr. Pole has additional training addressing a range of co-occurring disorders and uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness-based approaches. Dr. Pole has presented nationally on various topics including trauma-focused therapy and program development. She has shaped the Psychology Department based on an academic model in which research guides psychological practice. She has developed and implemented an evidence-based, integrated treatment approach to addressing trauma/PTSD at Caron Treatment Centers. In addition, Dr. Pole has developed a Psychological Testing program at Caron and has developed training opportunities for psychology post-doctoral fellows and doctoral level practicum students in the hope of training new psychologists to understand and competently assess and treat addiction and trauma/PTSD among a range of patients.
Jennifer Storm – Subject, Writer, Producer
Jennifer Storm is the award winning author of Blackout Girl, Leave the Light On, and Picking Up the Pieces Without Picking Up, She is the gubernatorial appointed Victim Advocate of the State of Pennsylvania. She is a widely sought-out expert speaker on the subjects of trauma, addiction and victim’s rights. She has appeared on The Today Show, ABC World News, E! News, and in countless newspapers and magazine including Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, for her expertise on victim experiences.
You can help by making a tax-deductible donation towards the film. Simply visit the link below, fill out the donation form and put “Blackout Girl” in the Notes field upon checkout.
Thank you to those who have already donated including: Dave Leber, Movita Johnson-Harrell, Holli Yoder Nigh, Marylin Fuller Smith, Kristina Mellinger, Tammy Lamert Harris, Kimberly Coy, Christopher Brown, Phyllis Parsons, Shawn Fortune, Kim Minnich, Joe Martin, Mary Prestipino, Maggie Fitter, Jennifer Merchant Riley, Jane Adams, Lee Tarasi, Meg Garvin, Susan Blackburn, Tracy Ingram, Chazy Smith, Kim Harlan Oyer, Anne Marie Labenberg, Chris Jason, Amy Delong, Dawn Lee Hummel, Donovan Judy, Mary Emelio, Wendy Kinash and Rebecca Khalil.
This film could not happen without your generosity.