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Kind Hearted Woman

David Sutherland gets back to what he does best with a heartrending documentary, Kind Hearted Woman, after he puts together bits and pieces of Robin Charboneau’s horrendous life. The documentary brings to attention the agony, pain, and trauma of child sexual abuse coupled with a broken family in Native-American reservations. Despite the turmoil of trying to overcome her fears and fighting hard to keep her family together, Robin faces several other challenges. However, this does not make her weary. She keeps on fighting with a determination to achieve what is best for herself, her children, and her community.

Robin, a 32-year old, is a single mother pursuing a college degree and a social worker who suffered sexual abuse severally. She struggles dealing with the consequences of her abusive past, and endures the agonizing journey of seeking custody of her children, which she loses to her tribe. Robin’s past haunts her deeply as she learns of her daughter’s (Darian) sexual abuse by her father, presenting her with two battles to fight: dealing with her own scars of repeated child abuse and that of her daughter that is even more heartbreaking.

It is a depressing coincidence that all these evils surround her life. The painful experiences that Robin faces can be termed as tragic, devilish, and outrageous. However, being the iron lady, Robin fights on. Robin’s ex-husband had prior knowledge of Robin’s past, but he goes on to commit an evil act to a young girl. A person is left to wonder how he would do the same to the daughter. He probably understood the pain Robin went through, trudging through the memories and stigma of an abusive past. This act was the least of my expectations. The daughter faces the difficult and emotional task of testifying against his father who is found guilty and convicted.

 Robin was expected to live a better life with her children after his conviction. True to my expectations, Robin decides to move to International Falls, Minnesota, after getting custody of her children. This is an indication of a new beginning. A beginning that is filled with better tidings since she has gone through difficult and painful experiences in her life. She is determined to forge ahead with no constant reminders of her dark past. She quickly settles down, gets a job as a supervisor of visits for distressed families and as a sex abuse educator.

Robin falls in love again with Darren. The obvious lesson at this point of her life is that the past should never hold an individual back. Robin gets a reason to love again despite the myriads and obstacles of her innocent past. However, this does not mark the sudden end of her problems. She is faced with the tussle of her son (Anthony), agonizing over the absence of her father. She is also confronted with the trouble of making her new relationship work out as they face a series of challenges pertaining their misunderstandings and fears. Robin does not shy off from her challenges; she bravely embraces and fights them. She even arms her daughter on how best she can protect herself from future abuse.

Darian also rises up from her dust and organizes a tournament in order to raise funds for domestic abuse victims. The family takes part in a community walk to raise awareness on sexual abuse. This move indicates a rebirth for Spirit Lake Reservation because sexual abuse was never a subject of discussion in this area. This revival is a ray of hope to other victims who had been suffering silently.

Robin returns the children to the ex-husband, which is unexpected of her. Despite the fact that she had covered a milestone in her healing process, returning the children to their father would be the last resort. After the divorce, the emotional child custody battle and eventually her daughter’s sexual abuse case, which the husband was found guilty, she could have avoided him at all costs. However, just as the title of the book suggests, Robin went ahead to look beyond their skeletons and reunite the children with their father. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.

 Robin emerges a powerful public speaker on sexual abuse. She is very enthusiastic of supporting sexual abuse victims and would do anything to fight it. This is a clear indicator of her growth as a mother and a professional speaker. She is healed of her past pains and troubles. She is also determined to help those who undergo similar challenges in the society.

 The entire drama and turmoil encountered in Robin’s life is an illumination to the world at large that whatever has a beginning always has an ending. It is also a revelation that many sexual abuse cases go unearthed, leaving many innocent victims to suffer in silence. Nothing is difficult to achieve as long as there is a purpose. We should never allow ourselves to be slaves of our experiences. The decisions we make have great impacts on our growth and success.


Sutherland, D. (2013). Kindhearted Woman. United States of America. Frontline and Independent Lens.