Trigger Warning for Sexual Assault

Words by Charlie Batten

When I was thinking of which piece of art has impacted me the most, the one that instantly came to mind was the film Perks of Being a Wallflower. An American coming of age film, based on the 1999 novel of the same name.

The plot follows Charlie (played by Logan Lerman) a high school student who very much keeps to himself but finds himself becoming a part of a new group of friends (played by Emma Watson & Ezra Miller) which leads to a variety of events in his life. For a lot of people their favourite films are often decided by how they relate and connect with the characters within it and I am no different. 

Charlie, has had such a major impact on me because of the number of similarities between his life and mine. 

At the very beginning of the film, he states “I am both happy and sad at the same time” which automatically drew me in because it perfectly summed up the young adult years of my life through my struggle with mental health and depression. I think for a lot of other people as well, that line would help them understand themselves and their own feelings by being able to see someone else with them. 

However, the main similarity I have to Charlie is that at the end of the film he realises that when he was around 6-8 years old, he was a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of his aunt. For myself I only realised in late 2019 that I was a survivor of similar abuse from an older friend when I was around 6-8 years old. Even though I had seen the film before late 2019, I had forgotten the ending so when I watched it again after realising my past it kind of helped me come to terms with what had happened. 

To be able to see someone go through the same thing as me, was this weird feeling of validity as before I hadn’t known of any stories similar to mine so to watch it happen was incredibly moving. 

For a lot of people who have gone through similar trauma to me, a really important part of it is coming to terms with what’s happened and learning “you’re not the only one” whether the people who have gone through the same thing are real or fictional.

Straying away slightly from looking at my own personal connection to the film, I think it’s also really great that the film depicts male sexual abuse because it is an issue that often holds with it a lot of stigma.

I think as a society we are still coming to terms with the fact that men can be the victim of crimes of a sexual nature as we are often portrayed as the physically stronger gender who are much more dominant. The more that these kinds of stories are shown to people, whether it be through tv and films or through the news, the more it’ll be normalised which will help people open up about their experiences and come to terms with what’s happened to them.

Perks of Being a Wallflower has easily been the most influential film on me personally and stands as my favourite film of all time. Regardless of my own personal connection to it I think the story and acting within it is superb and sheds light on stories that often we don’t see. 

Image – Wikimedia Commons

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