At first glance, the feature-length documentary “Fight Like A Girl” might be dismissed as a film simply about women’s boxing without any relevance to the behavioral health community. However, a closer look reveals that it provides many important insights about PTSD and the lasting impact of childhood trauma. This film could also inspire valuable discussion about the different paths people take to cultivate resiliency and move forward with their lives. The film’s website accurately describes it this way:
Told from a first person perspective, “Fight Like A Girl” is about women overcoming their demons through boxing, while telling a larger story about abuse, trauma, mental illness and healing. In a gritty, first-person narrative that was shot over a period of five years, filmmaker Jill Morley delves inside the little-known world of female boxers to meet the women who are passionate about fighting hard. She gets pulled in to this culture as she trains for the New York Golden Gloves. From world champions to amateurs training for local tournaments, Jill discovers they all have a lot in common. Throughout the film, how she and the other women she trains with arrive at boxing is revealed. The real emotional history and traumas bubble up, fleshing out a compelling story about women overcoming adversity in what many consider a violent sport.
Change is often difficult because it involves making oneself vulnerable, which most people try to avoid at all costs. Morley is able to do this hard work through her commitment to boxing and her fellow female fighters. This bravery allows her to confront her demons from childhood abuse and learn how to manage the PTSD that she has been diagnosed with.
Morley’s journey makes a very watchable and engaging documentary. It does not glamorize the world of boxing, but presents it in such a thoughtful way that even people who are repelled by its violence will better understand its appeal. In addition, this film does not take the easy route of demonizing men. While one of the boxers profiled did suffer domestic violence from a former boyfriend, Morley’s husband is interviewed and comes off as very supportive. This film is highly recommended as a tool to educate and raise awareness not only about trauma, but survival and resiliency as well.
- Behavioral Health Videos: A Selective Overview for Educators and Practitioners – Trauma/PTSD section – More films about this important topic: https://www.danyainstitute.org/traumaptsd-post-traumatic-stress-disorder/
- Adverse Childhood Experiences Mobile App – The ACE Quiz is a learning tool designed to increase awareness of how exposure to child abuse and/or neglect can increase the risk for health problems and health-risk behaviors. It includes resources about both trauma and resiliency. https://www.danyainstitute.org/adverse-childhood-experiences-mobile-app/
Review by Simone Fary, who previously served as the Instructional Design and Technology Specialist for The Danya Institute.