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Post-production   /  Claire Stretch

The Dangerous Dance

A documentary film about childhood trauma, domestic violence and the way forward.


Impact areas




  • DIRECTOR Brendon Stretch

  • PRODUCER Claire Stretch



The science is in: About 50% of us had childhoods that have negatively impacted our adult lives. Difficulties range from an inability to form lasting intimate relationships to addiction, domestic abuse and violence.

We know that connection and intimacy are crucial and curative yet committed relationships are increasingly breaking down.

Broken families and the spread of intergenerational trauma are further aggravated by an increase in isolation and the escalation of abusive communication.

We are now aware of the gendered aspects of DV. It’s time to raise awareness of troubled childhoods on adult outcomes.

Recent neurological research clearly traces how adverse childhood experiences negatively impact healthy brain development.

Fortunately, we now have science backed knowledge of what’s required for healthy brain development in childhood. And we know what it takes to get an adult’s brain back on track. Crucial elements are connection and compassion.

Support this project

0.07% funded
  • $75,000.00

  • $50.00

  • December 2021

  • 1

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Kyle Clasky $50.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

The impact of childhood stress and trauma is impaired brain development.

A child fills their brain with stories about themselves and the world learning from what goes on around them. If these are negative, bleak stories those beliefs will be carried into adulthood often with nightmare consequences. These may include abuse, violence, addiction, alcoholism, mental illness or any combination of these.

The Dangerous Dance features stories of adults who have managed to turn their lives around by changing their beliefs about themselves the world. Thanks to recent neuroscientific studies at Harvard and elsewhere we can literally see the new neural pathways that are being built.

We talk to experts, some with crucial personal experience of the problem, who help adults and whole families to change the way they see the world and how they behave.

They explain the neuroscience of healthy brain development in childhood and how we can change our brain in adulthood to create better adult lives.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

In the face of anti-social or destructive behaviour, asking ‘What happened to you?’ instead of ‘What’s wrong with you?’, strips judgement away opening the door to change.

In childhood we can't leave, however traumatic our environment, so we cope. As adults these coping mechanisms often don’t serve us. And we are free to change. It’s hard, but possible.

The Dangerous Dance features people who share their experience having made the transition from adult isolation and destruction to fulfilment.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

The documentary’s goal is to create culture change that lowers the incidence of domestic abuse and violence.

Culture is basically made up of the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, evidenced by how we behave. This is true both at the group level and individually.

As adults, if we find ourselves acting destructively towards others or ourselves, we will likely have to explore our childhood when we first learnt ‘how life is’, and how to behave to get by.

As children we didn’t have the freedom to leave, so we had to adapt, no matter what. Our childhood behaviour got deeply wired in our brains and will play out for life unless we consciously make changes. The blossoming field of neuroscience has a lot to offer to this end.

There is now a better awareness of gender inequality in the domestic violence mix. This documentary seeks to add the significant part childhood trauma plays and put forward ways to address this. Compassion for dysfunction needs to be the norm not the exception


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

The documentary will achieve its outcomes by focusing on the role that childhood trauma, ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) and impaired brain development play in the area of domestic violence and abuse in adulthood.

The documentary includes interviews with therapists specialising in trauma informed care, neuroscientists with expertise in childhood brain development and how to heal impaired function in adulthood, and academics with a range of expertise.

Most importantly, the knowledge imparted by these experts is illustrated in interviews with people who have overcome limiting behaviour in adulthood including domestic abuse and violence. They tell their stories openly and thoughtfully, allowing viewers with no experience of domestic violence to understand the issue in a way that allows them to participate as part of the solution.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

Interviews have been conducted with relevant experts and organisations including:
- Karen Willis OAM, Executive Officer of Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia
- Dr Elspeth McInnis AM, researcher sociologist in the School of Education at the University of South Australia with expertise in areas of family violence, child abuse and child protection.
- Michael Kimmel, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University and experts on men and masculinities.

The National Council for Single Mothers and Their Children (NCSMC). CEO, Terese Edwards, is a supporter of our documentary offering a relevant and involved audience.

HM Communications Group, $90k pledged in funding. $20k received to date (May 2019). HM Communications regularly funds philanthropic partnerships as part of its social responsibility work.

Various other relevant organisations are in the wings to be called on as required.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

We hope viewers will gain a deeper understanding of domestic violence by learning how difficult childhoods set people up for negative experiences in adult relationship.

We hope viewers gain a sense of how they can contribute to reducing the blight of domestic violence in our culture; that they grasp the huge potential of looking at childhood as a way to bring about changed beliefs and behaviours in adulthood.

What hope viewers also realise that they can apply the same approach to their own adult struggles and gain the agency to improve their own life as well as support others in doing the same.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

In the public domain there will be an acceptance of the complexity of the issue of abuse, both domestic and otherwise, and an understanding that it is hurt people who hurt people, not bad people who hurt people.

In the public domain there will be an awareness of the way Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) show up in adulthood as limiting and or destructive behaviour. And that we now have the know how to support people effectively to make lasting changes.