Documentary Films

Documentaries About Abuse:

theatersChild Abuse (14)
Documentaries about abuse inflicted on a child (someone under 18yo) by an adult. It can be physical, sexual, emotional/verbal, or neglect.
Child of Rage
A classic documentary based on the true story of Beth Thomas, who suffered from reactive attachment disorder as a result of being sexually abused as a child. CBS, 1992, length: 00:27:28.
Out of Darkness, Into Light
An Emmy award winning documentary which delves into the lives of three adult survivors of child sexual abuse.WLRN, 2012, length: 00:28:25.
The Trouble With Evan
Documentary about the effect emotional abuse had on an 11yo boy from Canada. The Fifth Estate, 1994, length: 1:24:20.
A Mother's Love
Real Stories, 2017, length: 48:29. A documentary about a woman who liked to pretend that her 7yo daughter had cancer, gave her sleeping pills, and arranged counseling for her, to convince her of her upcoming death; except the child was healthy.
Just, Melvin: Just Evil
A documentary about three generations who were sexually abused by their relative, Melvin Just, while they were children. 2000, length: 01:14:35.
3,096 days in captivity
2013, length: 00:51:13. Documentary about Natascha Kampusch, an 8yo Austrian girl who was kidnapped and kept in a 54 sq ft cellar for more than eight years.
Men Surviving Sexual Abuse
Five men discussing the impact of sexual abuse on men.Shatterboy, 2012, length: 27:15.
Documentary confronting Child Sexual Abuse in the Cayman Islands.The Cayman Story Company, length: 1:03:30.
The Lost Girls Of South Africa
In a country where a child is raped every three minutes, and where AIDS continues to spread with epidemic ferocity, we follow four girls aged 11-13 as they struggle to come to terms with the crimes committed against them and fight the social stigma that comes with the abuse. Real Stories, 2017, length: 1:15:52.
Selling The Girl Next Door
Documentary about child sex trafficking in the US. CNN, 2011, length: 42:42.
Children Of The Sex Trade
This film follows two young sisters in the Philippines who help former Australian police and Special Forces officers rescue underage girls from sex bars. Real Stories, 2016, length: 57:02.
Cambodia: The Virginity Trade
Zealot Films, 2009, length: 58:50. A compelling and utterly alarming account of the lives of girls and women affected by the virginity trade that exists in Cambodia today. Many Asian men believe that obtaining a virgin girl for sex will grant them extra health and luck. Subsequently, there is a huge demand for young Cambodian girls, and the demand feeds the country's sex industry. 'Cambodia: The Virginity Trade' documents all sides of this nightmarish story of Cambodian girls in crisis. Intimate and revealing interviews are held with the men who buy the virginity of young girls, politicians, the police, senior NGO's and the victims themselves.
My stolen childhood: understanding the trokosi system
BBC News Africa, 2018, length: 25:41. Thousands of women across West Africa have been enslaved by a centuries old practice called 'trokosi'. Girls are forced to live and work with priests in religious shrines, for the rest of their lives, to 'pay' for the sins of their family members. Although the practice has officially been banned in Ghana, it’s still happening. Twenty years after she was freed from this practice, Brigitte Sossou Perenyi goes on a journey to understand what trokosi really is and why her family gave her away.
America s Medicated Kids
BBC, 2010, length: 1:00:50. Louis Theroux documentary about parents who have turned to medication to keep their children under control. BBC, 2010, length: 1:00:50.
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theatersDomestic Abuse (14)
Documentaries about abuse inflicted on one adult by another, while both share the same household. For example, physical abuse by an intimate partner, or abuse of elderly parent by their adult child.
Behind Closed Doors
Shot over 12 months, and starting from the moment an emergency call is received, the film follows three brave women who each waive their right to anonymity to show how insidious and terrifying domestic abuse can be. BBC, 2015, length: 59:01.
Love You To Death
86 women were killed by their partners in 2013 in UK. This documentary names each of them, and, through interviews with families, friends and neighbours, tells the stories of seven of them in detail. BBC, 2015, length: 1:34:44.
Against My Will
The stories of three women who took refuge at the Dastak women's shelter in Pakistan founded to help women fleeing abusive and murderous families. Humanist Broadcasting Foundation, 2003, length: 50:19.
Living in Fear
Domestic violence through the eyes of survivors, supporters, and abusers. NPT Reports, 2013, length: 57:06.
Faces of Fear
Examines the crosscultural phenomenon of domestic violence and looks at how the medical community and law enforcement agencies are helping to end the silence. PBS, 1996, length: 56:08.
Abused In Silence
A true story of a Muslim woman abused by her husband. Length: 46:55.
Untouchable Love
Real Stories, 2018, 59:11. A documentary about inter-caste marriages: interviews with five couples who rejected their culture to be together, and what this choice resulted in for them, their families, and their villages.
What Price - Bride Price?
Bride Price or lobola is both a cherished but highly controversial culture practised throughout Africa. It is the price paid in cows or money by the groom to the parents of the bride. This inspirational documentary tackles important side effects of bride wealth, namely child marriages, domestic violence and poverty. It features a cross-section of survivors of domestic violence, judges, community leaders, policy makers and rights activists. MIFUMI, 2013, length: 47:13.
Four Corners: Forced Marriages
Documentary about what happens when young, educated, Australian-born girls are forced into unwanted marriages - often with relatives overseas. ABC, 2012; length: 44:20.
I Escaped A Cult
National Geographics, 2012, length: 44:28. Four people including Brent Jeffs discuss how they fled dangerous and brainwashing cults, and what it was like to live in a world of fear and abuse.
House of Shafia
The Fifth Estate, 2012, length: 45:14. Documentary about the honour killing of three teenage girls and their stepmother by their family.
Elder Abuse Lecture
Attorney Paul Greenwood has prosecuted more than four hundred felony cases of elder and dependent abuse, both physical and financial. He examines what constitutes elder abuse, how we handle these cases in our judicial system, why incidents of elder abuse are on the rise, and how you can protect yourself and your loved ones. UCTV, 2012, length: 59:28.
Men Dont Tell
TV drama based on the true story of a loving husband who is terrorized by the violent behavior of his wife. CBS, 1993, length: 1:32:08.
Classic drama about emotional abuse: a husband convinces his wife that she is insane by making her doubt her reality. MGM, 1940, length: 1:24:01.
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theatersRape and Sexual Assault (7)
Documentaries about non-consensual intercourse (vaginal or otherwise), where the perpetrator forces it on the victim against their will and the victim is helpless to escape.
The Unspeakable Crime Rape
Documentary exploring rape, from forensic medical to police investigation, court and beyond. BBC, 2013, length: 1:43:41.
I Never Said Yes
BBC, 2012, length: 48:37. Pips Taylor examines why so many rape victims fail to receive justice in the UK. With powerful interviews with victims, lawyers and police officers she explores who is to blame for this failure and discovers a system which favours the accuseds right over those of the victims.
Rape on the Night Shift
Frontline, 2015, 53:09. A joint investigation into the sexual abuse of immigrant women who clean the malls where you shop, the banks where you do business and the offices where you work.
The Real Sex Traffic
Real Stories, 2017, length: 48:32. A documentary about human trafficking from Eastern Europe to the West, includes an interview with a convicted trafficker, victims, relatives, and a husband who's trying to rescue his trafficked wife.
Inside The World Of Human Sex Trafficking
2015, length: 1:49:32. Documentary explores the cycle of neglect, violence and exploitation which each year leaves thousands of girls and women feeling that prostitution is their only option to survive.
Rape and sexual assault investigation
BBC, 2005, length: 59:42. An hour long documentary on one rape investigation, showing how each step of it works, all the way to conviction.
False Accusation
2015, length: 22:40. A story of how one woman falsely accused someone of rape, he was sentenced to 20 years of prison, but two years later she admitted no rape took place.
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theatersInstitutional Abuse (12)
Documentaries about neglect, physical, or sexual abuse of people who are institutionalized, by the staff of the institution they are at (e.g. prison, nursing home, psychiatric facility, etc).
Elder Abuse: The Crime of the Twenty-First Century?
Documentary about abuse in senior homes. BBC, 2014, length: 56:41.
The Silent Epidemic - Nursing Home Care Abuse
Insider Exclusive, 2014, length: 49:04. What's nursing home abuse, what to do about it, and what are your rights as a resident.
Sex in a Cold Climate
Channel4, 1998, length: 49:29. The documentary interviews four women, three of whom were incarcerated in Magdalene asylums in Ireland, about the abuse they underwent.
Channel4, 2008, length: 1:36:32. This BAFTA award winning film deals with a subject often whispered but rarely spoken about - the sexual abuse of boys by teachers in Britain’s private schools. 2013, length: 00:51:13.
30 Years A Slave
Unreported World, 2015, length: 23:07. A moving report from South Korea where the police have rescued hundreds of modern-day slaves tricked into working on salt and seaweed farms on a chain of remote islands. Shockingly, many of those rescued have learning disabilities. Marcel Theroux traveled to the Shinan Islands to investigate the lives of these vulnerable people, some reuniting with families who for years believed they were dead.
Predators And Prey - Prison Documentary
National Geographics, 2014, length: 40:41. Interviews with inmates, new and old, and a prison warden, about inmate on inmate abuse.
Turned Out: Sexual Assault Behind Bars
Jonathan Schwartz, 2004, length: 54:12. Estimates are that 20 percent of all men serving in US prisons have been raped. This film looks at the social system within prisons that allows this violent sexual behavior to occur.
Kids Behind Bars
Documentary about abuse of children in prisons around the world. Length: 1:38:34.
The Shame of the Catholic Church
BBC, 2012, length: 58:50. Documentary about child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland.
Cult Witness
Arthio Films, 2010, length: 56:25. An intelligent exploration of how cults attract and manipulate their followers, sharing the disturbing firsthand experiences of Cult Witness director Samuel Stefan and six others who have freed themselves from cults.
Children Of Darkness
Documentary about mentally ill and emotionally troubled children and young adults living in various private and public residences, and state institutions. PBS, 1983, length: 57:16.
The Quality of Life
Infinite Spiral, 2015, length: 34:16. The film explores what people with intellectual disabilities go through, what their families go through, and the negative aspects of group homes/institutions which include physical abuse, sexual abuse, and over-medication.
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Documentaries About Mental Health:

theatersTherapy (8)
Documentaries about therapy: how to choose a good therapist, what to talk about in their office, and when to quit.
What is psychotherapy anyway?
Dr. Gerald J. Gargiulo and Dr. Amira Simha-Alpern, 2012, length: 22:10. A down to earth discussion between two psychoanalysts of what deep therapy is all about: how growth in self awareness is basic to living a satisfying life.
A Former Therapist's Critique of Psychotherapy
Daniel Mackler, 2014, length: 59:33. What makes a good therapist, how to assess a therapist's quality, why he thinks most therapists are not so good, boundaries in psychotherapy, the value in self-therapy versus therapy, and the subjects of diagnosis and psychiatric drugs.
Open Dialogue: an alternative Finnish approach to healing psychosis
Daniel Mackler, 2014, length: 1:13:59. documentary film on the Western Lapland Open Dialogue Project, the program presently getting the best results in the developed world for first-break psychosis - approximately 85% full recovery, a far majority off antipsychotic medication.
BPD: Back From the Edge
Lichtenstein Creative Media, 2010, length: 48:11. Documentary film featuring three people who are living with and recovered from Borderline Personality Disorder. The production also features leading experts in the field.
Tamra Sattler PhD, 2013, 26:49. A compassionate documentary on Borderline Personality Disorder, focusing on experience of Debbie Corso, an author/blogger from the San Francisco area living with BPD, and how Dialectical behavior therapy(DBT) changed her life.
Treading Water
From Here To There Films, 2015, length: 1:06:36. Independent Documentary about depression, interesting, and not patronizing.
Depression: The Misunderstood Epidemic
2010, length: 56:47. One by one the topics are addressed in candid detail: symptoms; suicide; the stigma and lack of understanding; the stress in families and relationships; the loss of ability to work. The film also discusses the pros and cons of medication, different types of therapy, and support groups.
Ride the Tiger: A Guide Through the Bipolar Brain
PBS, 2016, length: 54:24. Documentary about that tells the stories accomplished individuals who have been diagnosed with bipolar, and explores treatment options.
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theatersPTSD and Anxiety (7)
Documentaries about how to ground when you're triggered, dealing with panic attacks and flashbacks, managing phobias, etc.
Resolve: A Guide To Post Traumatic Growth
Greg Storm, length: 1:21:02. Ten trauma survivors offering practical advice for millions of trauma victims, their families and friends worldwide.
Childhood Trauma and the Process of Healing
Daniel Mackler, 2011, length: 58:54. Topics covered: denial in the family system, addiction to comfort, self-therapy and healing childhood trauma, four stages of emotional healing, and suicide - the trap of the family system.
Healing Minds, Changing Attitudes: PTSD
AETN, 2014, length: 1:57:31. The first hour features a documentary about PTSD in children and youth. Following, a panel of experts discuss what PTSD is, the causes, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments.
Afraid Of People
APT, 2011, length: 1:29:25. Documentary about Social Anxiety, a disorder affecting 19.2 million Americans.
The Man Who Loved The Number 12
ITV, 2005, length: 1:29:33. A remarkably intimate and moving film that offers an insight into the extreme Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Hugh is trapped in a world of endless order and repetition, which places a huge strain on him and his family.
House of Agoraphobics I
Barcroft TV, 2006, length: 47:38. Three agoraphobics move into a house together where they will face their worst fears, hoping to find a better life.
House of Agoraphobics II
Barcroft TV, 2006, length: 48:33. Second part of the above film.
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theatersDID/MPD (6)
Documentaries about Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder), where it comes from and how we live with it.
Multiple Personality Disorder
HBO, 1993, length: 58:58. Emmy award-winning film is a look into how people can develop multiple personalities to survive abuse through the splitting off of personalities. Usually taking hold in childhood, DID/MPD is thought of as people's way of shutting out abuse and trauma from their formative years. During this film we get to see some people who suffer from the disorder, whilst exhibiting their various different personalities.
Mistaken Identity
Length: 45:57. Documentary about the controversy surrounding Dissociative Identity Disorder, previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder.
What it's like to live with DID
MedCircle, 2018, 59:34. An hour long interview with a woman who has Dissociative Identity Disorder, talking of what it's like to live with it.
The Woman With 7 Personalities
Barcroft TV, 2017, length: 47:51.
This film follows Helen and her seven different personalities over a period of months to explore how she copes with life and to investigate what exactly has happened to her friend. We see Helen 'switching' between her various personas and seek the views of different psychology camps as to why she suffers from this condition.
DID Talk
Informal university lecture, 2013, length: 1:18:30. Abuse survivor who has DID, sharing her thoughts on what it's like (and what it isn't like).
Dissociative Identity Disorders and Trauma: GRCC Psychology Lecture
Colin A. Ross, MD, 2016, length: 2:13:28.
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theatersSelf Inflictions (10)
Documentaries about suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, addictions, or any other non-accidental behaviors that are harmful to your body.
Suicide And Me
BBC, 2015, length: 57:06. World-famous rapper Professor Green takes an intensely personal journey to uncover the truth behind the suicide of his father, and why suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45.
Length: 41:45. Documentary about depression, suicide, and self injury in teens.
Boy Interrupted
HBO, 2009, length: 1:32:16. The intensely personal story of every parent's worst nightmare: the death of a child by suicide.
Life After Suicide
BBC, 2014, length: 58:23. Dcumentary about how suicide affects your loved ones.
Cut Up Kids
BBC, 2008, length: 59:36. Documentary which gives an insight into the phenomenon of self-harming teenagers by following three young people who have resorted to it as a way of coping with what life has thrown at them.
Anorexia Nervosa: Being Too Thin - An Inside Story
BBC, 2015, length: 1:35:48. Documentary about Anorexia Nervosa, an Eating Disorder characterized by restricting one's food intake in order to lose weight.
Rain in my heart
Paul Watson, 2006, length: 1:38:16. Gritty, very real and heartbreaking, it is an upfront, unapologetic glimpse into the world of addiction and alcoholism.
Heroin: The Hardest Hit
VA State attorney's office, 2016, length: 43:13. A very involved film providing a graphic and up close look at heroin addiction and prescription pain pill abuse.
Michel Negroponte, 2005, length: 1:27:50. Methadonia is the borderland between high and straight, where recovering heroin addicts on methadone "maintenance" exist.
The City Addicted to Crystal Meth
BBC, 2009, length: 56:44. Louis Theroux documentary about how drug addiction has torn apart the city of Fresno in Central Valley, California.
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78 full-length documentary films on this page were suggested by our members and visitors, abuse survivors who found them relevant and interesting. Please exercise self-care if necessary: the documentaries are focused on heavy topics, and naturally might be upsetting. Check out our Calm Room if you're triggered. Our youtube channel might have more, particularly survivor interviews. If ads bother you, install Chrome and AdBlock.