The Women’s Coalition of St. Croix will present “Silence Speaks, Secrets Revealed,” a 26-week radio depicting the sexual violence toward children in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The first of the two-minute episodes, created by educators Regina Keels and Sayeeda Carter, will premiere at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 4 on WKJC-FM 95.1 and will air for the entire week. The listening audience can hear each episode several times during the same week on several stations.
“You will follow the story of three different children who are faced with the experience of sexual abuse. Each child’s story develops over the 26 episodes. You see one child, than another. There are a few times where the characters actually meet each other,” explains Carter.
Clema Lewis director of WCSC said the goal of the program is to dispel myths surrounding child sexual abuse.
“It’s happening right here in the USVI, Lewis said. “We must talk about it. We must educate our children on comfortable/uncomfortable touch. We must believe our children. Perpetrators need to be held responsible for their actions. Survivors need support.”
Keels and Carter listened to the experiences of the coalition advocates and came up with an outline. Everything was vetted by them and discussed for accuracy. It was important to remove any semblance of real people, Carter said.
Keels added, “They always gave us encouraging feedback. Carter came up with the idea of different characters with different issues to represent the entire scope of the problem. Then we worked together with the story, conflict and resolution.”
The survivors in the drama are three young people who cross through socio economic situations. They are a 7-year-old boy, a 15-year-old girl whose family recently relocated to St. Croix, and a 16-year old pageant queen.
The pair also wanted to deal with the perpetrator, according to Carter.
“We wanted the perpetrators to know there is help for them too,” she said. “We don’t believe that 100 percent of the people who do these horrible things want to do it.”
Keels said they also wanted to show there was no place that was safe from abuse.
“We showed different situations where it could happen – in school, after school, in church, in your home – there is no safe place from a perpetrator,” she said. “People think on an island away from the rest of the world you are safe. It was important for us to show that no place is safe from someone who wants to hurt you.”
The writers made each episode address an aspect of the problem.
“We had to pay attention to language, because you have to compact everything so you get the gist of it,” Keels said. “A lot of the description had to be put into the dialogue because you’re not seeing it as you would in a play.”
Radio drama requires more from the listeners imagination, Carter added.
Sexual abuse of children affects the whole community, said WCSC communications coordinator Debra Benjamin.
“We want to educate our community because it is a key part of prevention efforts and offering support to survivors,” Benjamin said.
New episodes will continue weekly for the duration of the series. The new episode of each week will be coupled with a half hour talk show that will feature experts in related fields, victim advocates and survivors.
“The discussion of the themes can continue, we’ll take calls and provide listeners with helpful resources. These shows will be available as podcasts too,” said WCSC assistant director Carolyn Forno.
Keels and Carter shared their personal feelings on the subject matter.
“We are both educators in the same school and we’ve talked about what’s missing. We have lived and worked other places. Something is valuable about going away and coming back and seeing something different,” Carter said.
“When you remain in one place with mediocrity, the mediocrity becomes the normal. You go elsewhere and you see respect and dignity as the normalcy,” she said.
The series uses 19 local actors who volunteered for the project.
All 26 episodes have been recorded already.
Creation and production of “Silence Speaks, Secrets Revealed” was supported by Raliance, a collaborative initiative to end sexual violence through a commitment from the National Football League.
The Women’s Coalition of St. Croix is the first non-profit in the U.S. Virgin Islands to receive a Raliance grant.
Information about child sexual abuse and WCSC’s programs and services for people impacted by violence, including 24-hour crisis intervention, is available by calling 340-773-9272 or sending email to [email protected] Information on “Silence Speaks, Secrets Revealed” can be obtained by sending email to [email protected]