Award-winning performance artist and filmmaker Vilma Jackson has written, produced and stars in a powerful short film which she hopes will influence change. The Cycle is a psychological drama-thriller combining real-life experiences and fiction, revealing the plight of a Black, Deaf woman who is let down by authorities and struggles to find help as she tries to escape abuse and rebuild her life.
Vilma says: "I wanted to share this story with a wider audience and show that Deaf women, particularly minority ethnic Deaf individuals, are not treated equally. It is a very sad fact that many minority ethnic Deaf women suffer domestic violence, but their suffering remains unseen and unheard. They fall through the gaps, and their mental health deteriorates. It's hard for them to access information and support, so they remain trapped in a cycle of abuse".
"It is difficult to imagine the fear that a Deaf person experiences when their hands are cuffed behind their backs, depriving them of their ability to communicate. Many have been handcuffed and arrested because police officers mistake their sign language for aggressive gestures when they are in an agitated state. Police officers, who frequently respond to domestic violence incidents, often lack proper training on how to engage and communicate with Deaf individuals. This highlights a significant lack of Deaf awareness."
Vilma Jackson works across TV, stage, film, music video and other fields. She also uses her work to draw attention to social injustice and has created projects addressing social issues. She appeared in ITV's Coronation Street in 2022 as a British Sign Language tutor.
Vilma wrote The Cycle to raise awareness and hopes it will help improve future prospects. The film immerses viewers in the journey of a Black Deaf woman, delving into her mental state and perspective, conveying the reality of the psychological aspects of feeling trapped.
She says: "It's a significant responsibility to bring these issues to light and assist people who are enduring torment, even if it may be uncomfortable," she shares. "However, it's crucial that we confront and understand these challenges. 'The Cycle' will serve as their voice, empowering them to reveal to society the realities of their lives, allowing everyone to collaborate to create a better environment."
The Cycle will screen at the Theatre Deli, London on 25th November.