Release Date: 2018
“Groomed”: A new documentary by director Gwen van de Pas and 2x Oscar winning executive producer Bill Guttentag.
Guilt. Confusion. Complicity. These were feelings that filmmaker Gwen van de Pas held onto for 20+ years, after being sexually assaulted by her swim coach as a child. What she didn’t realize, was that these feelings were caused by a psychological process called “grooming” that her perpetrator had put her through.
While an estimated 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men in the US are survivors of sexual assault, we hold many misconceptions about it. Most importantly, we believe that sexual assault is violently committed by scary-looking strangers. In reality, however, ~80% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim and involve a psychological process called “grooming”. Grooming is the process of 1) targeting vulnerable victims, 2) building a relationship that makes the victim feel special, 3) ensuring the victim feels complicit in the assault, and 4) therefore invoking feelings of guilt, shame, and hesitation to report.
“Groomed” follows Gwen as she returns to her home country of the Netherlands to confront her past, talk to her parents about the abuse, and decide whether to report her offender after 20+ years of silence. In her search for understanding, Gwen reaches out to other survivors whose stories look very different (from child abuse to college sexual assault) but all follow the same pattern of grooming and psychological response. And finally, ‘Groomed’ dives deep into the psychology of sexual predators through open conversations between Gwen and imprisoned offenders, as they explain how they target and groom their victims.
It is time we open our eyes to the truth about sexual abuse – and “Groomed” is the wake-up call we need.
Gwen Van De Pas
Gwen van de Pas is a Dutch filmmaker living in San Francisco. She studied Film in Holland, holds an MBA from Stanford, and worked for Consulting firm Bain for 8 years. Passionate about stories that matter, she’s ready to tell the story of “Groomed.”
Bill Guttentag is a double Oscar-winning dramatic and documentary film writer-producer-director. His films have premiered at the Sundance, Cannes, Telluride, and Tribeca film festivals, and have won numerous awards.
Mo Scarpelli has served as Director of Photography and Cinematographer on several award-winning films, including her own film FRAME BY FRAME (SXSW 2015) and SPEAKING IS DIFFICULT (Sundance 2016).
Jenny McAllister is an Emmy-nominated producer and has 15 years of experience creating non-fiction programming for National Geographic, Discovery Channel and PBS.