The Truest Love Of All

January 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog

heart on the beach

Huffington Post

by Deborah Calla
I was married at age 20 to a man who was 11 years my senior. When I married the man, I was a recent Brazilian arrival doing a lot of drugs and hanging out with all the wrong people. I thought getting married would settle me down and straighten me out, but instead it marked the beginning of the worst period of my life. The man was intelligent and creative, but he was also possessive, manipulative and had an ego that didn’t allow any other human to occupy the same space as his. Within the first year the intelligent man showed himself as delusional and abusive…Continued


Two Very Different Stories

October 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog

Here are two very different stories.  In one a fifteen year old in California is gang raped while a crowd of over twenty teenagers watch.

The other a five year old boy fills up his red cart with his mom’s brownies and garden vegetables and goes around the neighborhood selling them to raise money for his five year old friend in the hospital. 


These are two of today’s news.  What are the reasons that make humans act in such distinct ways, one motivated by anger and objectification and the other by love? 

I’m not a psychologist or a criminalist but the stark contrast of these two stories is quite shocking.  I would like to venture out in saying that in the case of the rape the lack of love, respect and purpose in the rappers and witnesses lives must be huge.  No human, unless they are medically certifiably insane – in which case they march to the beat of their own drum – would perpetrate such crime unless they had seen and/or suffered the same rage and violence before.  No human would do that onto another unless they felt worthless.

In the story of the five year old boy it is evident that his family supports his efforts by giving him the garden vegetables and baking the brownies.  It is also obvious that this young boy knows and feels love from his family and therefore it becomes natural for him to share love with his little friend in need.

I remember being invited to screening years ago at the Sony lot of a number of short films made by incarcerated juveniles.  Each and every short film produced, written and acted by these young men, was about love; their need of it, their lack of it.  These were stories about their mothers and girlfriends.  The tough looking boys when given the chance to talk about anything chose to talk about love.

I’m not trying to over simplify these very important and layered stories but I do feel it is important for us to recognize that love is at the heart of them and with every action we take we help to support one story or the other.


A Beautiful Life

September 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog

A Beautiful Life, a film I co-wrote and produced will be released on October 2nd.

The film deals with rape and Maggie’s (the lead character) belief that love and violence are one and the same.  I’m not going to give the plot away but the film ends on a hopeful note and that is the beauty of the story and that is why I spent so many years of my life trying to make this movie.

I’m often asked what attracted me to the material, as it was a play first.  Early on my response was: “It’s really compelling material.” But the truth is I have a lot in common with the lead character.

For one, I was sexually assaulted in 1994 when the US was the host of the World Cup.  I was attacked by a fellow Brazilian, an attorney, who was here with the Brazilian delegation.

This happened right after I moved to LA from NY and after my divorce from a very unhappy marriage.  Needless to say I was very fragile.

I was able to go to the police station and because the OJ, Nicole Simpson case had just happened, I was taken very seriously.  The man was arrested in his pajamas at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and the police took his passport away. 

His friends found my phone number and started calling me at all hours of the day pleading with me not to testify.  “He didn’t mean it.  You know how Brazilians are.  He has a one year old boy” his friends kept saying while my mind kept thinking: “Maybe I shouldn’t have been so nice, did I lead him on?  I did fight.  I did ask him to stop.”  What ended up happening during the assault is that I left my body.  It was like my spirit was hovering over me and watching from a distance the scene below. 

The police sent me to the Santa Monica rape crisis center.  I was there assigned to a therapist.  Their goal was to help me.

The man had appendicitis in jail and was taken to the hospital.  His friends kept calling me. The detectives kept calling me: “We’re counting on you to testify” they would say.  And I didn’t know what was up or down.

My Santa Monica therapist said to do what I wanted, do what I could.  What I wanted was to run.  What Maggie wanted was to run.

After a couple of months I told the detectives I couldn’t spend another year of my life getting phone calls and feeling guilty.  The detectives were angry at me.  They thought it would be an easy case but without my testimony they didn’t think they could get a conviction and decided to let him go.

I wished I had more time to calm down before having had to make the decision to testify or not.  Victims of sexual abuse are often so immersed in shame that the last thing we want is to be placed in a court of law and answer antagonistic questions from the defense attorneys. 

I wished the therapist that was assigned to me would have also helped me understand that by letting the guy go I might put other women in jeopardy.  I still hope his experience here was enough to put a stop to his actions.  But I don’t know.

Maggie and A Beautiful Life became my way out of my shame and paralyses.  By working on her words and her hope, I gave myself hope.   I turned my loss into something positive but I was lucky to be able to do that. 

There are so many of us, men and women, that have experienced what it is to be objectified; to count as much in the eyes of another as a table or chair. 

I don’t know what makes a rapist a rapist but I do know we need better tools to help the victims and to be able to put the criminal on trial without having to drag the victim through another humiliation.

A Beautiful Life is a tough movie.  It puts in the foreground the very real consequences of abuse including the rejection and the blame that we suffer even from people that love us.

Maybe the film is not everyone’s cup of tea but the subject it discusses should be everyone’s cup of tea as it happens more often than we care to know.   

But what I really have in common with Maggie is that I too want A Beautiful Life and like her, I won’t stop fighting for it no matter what life throws my way.


Sometimes Humans Are Not The Best Kind

August 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog

I don’t want to get into politics here but what kind of people kidnap and torture children in the name of their god and/or their beliefs?

I’m referring to a story on, about a six year old boy, the son of a policeman, kidnapped in Fallujah and tortured for two years by Al Qaeda operatives to pressure the father into releasing a number of prisoners.

So again I ask what kind of men can inflict pain on another human.  I know in order to do that they need to objectify the human in front of them.  It is as if that human is made of cardboard. That’s the same process rapists get to rape. 

I’m not a psychologist, therapist, or anything like that, so I don’t know the exact process and the reason there are a large number of people that have the ability to objectify others in order to commit their crimes but I am a victim of a sexual assault.  I have been on the other side and have experience this objectification and it is tremendous.  All of a sudden everything that you are, all your experiences, your essence as a person become meaningless in the eyes of someone else.  

You become a nothing.

In order to survive you disassociate and you experience the crime being perpetrated against you as if it was happening to someone else.  When it’s over and you return to your body you go through a process of shock and then depression, guilt, sadness and hopefully one day of acceptance.

We humans have the capacity of love and hate and our minds make those choices at every moment.  We choose between to love and respect or to ignore and objectify.  We do that even in the smallest of things; like cutting in line in front of someone else in line without thinking of the needs of the other person.

I hope this little boy has the ability to live with what was done to him as the scars on his soul are deeper than the ones in his body.  As for myself the shame, guilt and sadness have been dealt with and now are part of my life experience and allow me to feel more empathy for others that are victims of violent acts.