Review from the launch of Padlock – a film exploring gender and domestic violence

7th April 2017, RADA, London


The UK SAYS NO MORE team were fortunate enough to be invited to the first London press screening of Ben S. Hyland’s latest short film – Padlock, with a panel discussion and Q&A with the film’s director and actors. The film is a brilliantly acted, unique and intriguing piece, portraying the story of Matt as he is trapped in the confines of an abusive relationship.

Padlock, created after 9 months of research, writing, and meeting with many male survivors of domestic abuse, launched this month thanks to the support to private funders, and over 100 Kickstarter funders. In the creation of the film, Director Ben S.Hyland’s goal was ultimately to “engage the public into discussions of domestic abuse, in particular relation to gender.”

Mankind Initiative released statistics in March 2016 that stated “13.2% of men state they have been a victim of domestic abuse since they were 16 (27.1% women). For every three victims of domestic abuse, two will be female, one will be male, and yet we still don’t feel comfortable talking about these issues.”

Padlock film launch - exploring gender and domestic violence

The film itself offers up a harrowing portrayal of the reality of domestic violence, set inside the couple’s home, as Matt’s partner Julie uses both emotional and physical abuse to imprison him in the toxic relationship. Valmike Rampersad (Bazodee, Mile End, Cloud 9), who played Matt in the fillm, admitted at the screening that during his 3-4 days filming, he did not leave the house in order to gleam a sense of the constant isolation felt by his character, and was left feeling somewhat emotionally drained.

Speaking to survivors of domestic violence was very much an inspiration to Ben when directing the film; however he was careful not to use any one survivor’s story in the film’s narrative. Instead, the script was constantly evolving and changing, in the hope “to create something which resonates” – with a focus on the interaction between the two characters.

In making the film, Director Ben was also keen to give viewers a wider picture of Julie as an abuser: “We wanted to show the characters as more rounded people, not as Jekyll and Hyde or good and evil.” During the film, we see her as a remorseful manipulator – after a particularly violent episode, she is seen crying and whimpering, begging Matt with the question, “Do you love me?”  We can see the emotional manipulation she uses to control Matt, in addition to physical violence.

 “Emotional abuse stays with you; it’s corrosive. I love how the film portrays that.”

 “Emotional abuse stays with you; it’s corrosive. I love how the film portrays that,” explained Antonia Bernath, who played Julie in the film. For Antionia, working on Padlock was hugely personal as she drew upon her own childhood experience of growing up with an abusive parent. Emotional abuse often includes blaming, and perpetrators often see themselves as victims, excusing their actions by shifting the blame and telling victims that the abuse is their fault.

Padlock film launch - exploring gender and domestic violence

At the screening, we heard from Adam Saunders, Trustee and Chair of the Board at The Empowerment Network UK, Mark Brooks, Chair of Mankind Initiative, as well as our very own Pamela Zaballa, Head of Policy for Women and Children’s Services at Hestia, in a panel discussion on Gender & Domestic Violence – Breaking the Taboo.

“The first 5 seconds of how you respond to a victim is crucial.”

Discussions around gender included the impact of how friends and family respond to someone who comes to them to speak about experiencing domestic violence. “The first 5 seconds of how you respond to a victim is crucial. If you don’t give what they are saying validation and support them, they may never speak of it to anyone again, and the abuse will go on”, said Mark Brooks. Pamela Zaballa added, “The most important thing you can do is listen, and be there for them.”

Hestia’s Bright Sky app offers a free relationship safety assessment and a questionnaire for concerned friends and family. The app can be downloaded on iOS and Apple devices for free.

Padlock is now being submitted to many film festivals worldwide in the hope to get it seen by as many people as possible. From us at UK SAYS NO MORE, we’d like to say thank you to Ben and the rest of the film crew and cast for working to raise vital awareness of domestic violence, in particular male victims.

We hope this inspires others to speak out against stigmas and misconceptions, learn more, share vital resources, and join to end the silence which so often surrounds these issues.

Supporting Men Healthy Relationships Learn About These Issues


15-21st May is UK SAYS NO MORE Week 

From May 15th to 21st, join us in being part of the first ever UK SAYS NO MORE week: a time to unite together in activism to say NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault. Sign up to our social media Thunderclap to get the week started! Images, ideas and inspiration for the week can be found in our Action Guide!

About ManKind Initative

The ManKind Initiative was the first charity in Great Britain to support male victims of domestic abuse (registered in 2001). We provide a range of services directly to men such as an anonymous national helpline that any man, anywhere can call. We also support others to provide services for men so run a one day training course, a national conference and a directory of services. ManKind Initiative also gives male victims a public voice by campaigning for them, sitting on Government and other committees and giving presentations around the country.

About Hestia

Hestia are a London charity, working together with adults and children in crisis to change their lives at the times when they most need support. We are the largest provider of domestic abuse refuges in London and have the largest team of specialists working to combat Human Trafficking across the Capital and the South East. Across our broad range of services, we  also help people find a permanent home, manage their finances, take care of their health, and access work, training or education, as well as providing emotional and practical support to help people succeed in their daily lives.

About The Empowerment Network UK

Founded in 2013, The Empowerment Network UK has made it its mission to support the other people involved in domestic abuse. We’re here for the worried parents, concerned friends and anxious neighbours. We’re here for police officers, IDVAs, therapists, and caregivers. If you’re trying to help a victim of abuse, we want to help you.

Padlock film launch – exploring gender and domestic violence