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Child sex abuse victim tackles personal trauma in new film

Model Childhood, by Tim Mercier, won the top prize the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.

A filmmaker has tackled the trauma of being abducted and sexually assaulted as a child in a new documentary.

Tim Mercier's Model Childhood won the Jury Prize at this year's Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival and also took home the Personal Narrative prize.

A brave and deeply personal documentary about his own experience of childhood sexual trauma, Mercier created it during his recovery from a mental health crisis.

"When I was 11, I was abducted and sexually assaulted by a sort-of stranger", he told STV News.

"About five years ago, when I went through a pretty serious mental health crisis, I realised that 38 years later - I still hadn't really told anybody at all."

At the advice of a NHS counsellor, Mercier, a filmmaker by trade, started to document his thoughts and feelings about the past.

In Model Childhood, Mercier goes back to the place where the attack happened and uses clay animation to recreate key moments in his story.

'I thought well, maybe with the stuff that I'm filming at home I can make a film that can connect with other men like me who struggle to find a way of telling their story.'
Tim Mercier, Filmmaker

"It is a really homemade film. I only used a tiny camcorder and the tools that were around me at home.

"I began filming myself thinking and talking about my experience as a child.

"When I looked online for films about men who've experienced childhood sexual trauma, I could only find a few; some about heroic journalism, about people who have uncovered institutional enablement of childhood sexual abuse and very few that were pointed at, what I'd learned to call myself, which was a survivor.

"I thought, well, maybe with the stuff that I'm filming at home I can make a film that can connect with other men like me who struggle to find a way of telling their story."

Model Childhood: The film uses animation to recreate key moments.
Model Childhood: The film uses animation to recreate key moments. Tim Mercier

"I think the most corrosive element of what happened to me as a child, was that I couldn't tell anybody.

"Those memories stayed locked away inside me, and they became embellished with lots of beliefs, false beliefs, about my culpability, the extent to which I let it happen.

"And also that so much of my adult life was to do with simply coping day-to-day."

Tim Mercier's films can be watched on vimeo.com.

If you or someone you know needs help, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 and the NAPAC (The National Association for People Abused in Childhood) can be reached on 0808 801 0331.

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