The Social Problem
Kind Hearted Women (Sutherland, 2013) is a documentary that attempts to portray what it means to be a Native American in modern times. It uncovers how child abuse and domestic violence tainted the life of one woman on an Indian reservation. Robin Charboneau, the protagonist of the film, becomes a whistleblower of the dysfunctional tribal council system. As she seeks help and advocates for her family, she faces the scars from her own past and starts on a journey full of learning, growing and healing.
Robin Charboneau is an Oglala Sioux woman in her early 30s who lives in North Dakota. She is a heterosexual, divorced mother of two young children. With a phlegmatic temperament, she writes poetry that describes the struggles she’s endured: child molestation, rape, domestic violence, alcoholism, and romantic disappointment. Constantly struggling financially, the process of advocating for herself and her family reveals a bigger purpose for her the rest of her life: helping her people.
Being a woman in her early 30s has more experiential connotation rather than a physical symbolization. The documentary shows no evidence of any physical changes, so she may be part of the 93% of middle-aged adults that report having good health in general, with physical changes that do not interfere in their lives (Lachman, 2004). Physical changes can be mostly negative because they signal aging (Lachman, 2004), like the heavy breathing and sighs observed in Robin when she walks, as if she easily tires. Aside from aging, Lyon’s (2000) review of studies finds that asthma, among other problems were reported by battered women as an effect of abuse. On the other hand, Robin’s heavy breathing can also be an outcome of her smoking or emotional burdens.
In turn, the psychological changes in middle adulthood are mostly positive: Robin gains more emotional balance, wisdom and mastery (Lachman, 2004). This factor can be seen in her family meetings, creating venting spaces to deal with her sorrows, seeking help, and advocating for herself. She allows herself to cry and acknowledges her feelings, but Robin has negative psychological outcomes as well. Her diagnosis of depression comes from a history of victimization starting when she was placed in foster care at a very young age.
Alcoholism could have been a result of her emotional trauma, but it might also be an inescapable, genetic pattern she is repeating. Her own mother died from alcoholism, which is why Robin entered foster care. Robin’s support system played an important role in her turning point, as her daughter Darian began to verbalize Robin’s substance abuse. In contrast, Robin’s mother suffered from alcoholism when she was younger than Darian. Her addiction was also the flag needed to mobilize her towards help.
Becoming sober strengthened the bond with her children. According to the convoy model (Antonucci, Akiyama & Takahashi, 2004), the children form part of her inner circle:...