LUMBERTON — A former reporter for The Robesonian will be the subject of a documentary about sexual abuse of children that airs Thursday.
“Speaking the Unspeakable” tells the story of Knight Chamberlain and his stepbrother Michael and the abuse they suffered separately, and how it bonded them later in life. It premieres at 7 p.m. on WRAL-TV, WILM-TV, wraldocumentary.com, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. The 30-minute documentary will air again on Saturday at 3 p.m. on WRAZ-TV Fox-50.
Chamberlain, who worked at The Robesonian multiple times between 1978 and 2008, had a happy childhood, growing up in the small mountain town of Brevard in North Carolina. Then, when he was 9 years old, a stranger sexually assaulted him near his home and his life changed forever.
“Just like the documentary title, you have to speak the unspeakable if the cycle of silence is ever to be broken,” Chamberlain said. “The Washington Post has a catch phrase, ‘Democracy dies in darkness.’ Well, child sexual abuse thrives in darkness, particularly with male survivors.
“Talking about it, uncomfortable and painful though it may be, shines a light into that darkness and frees the abused to speak.”
Chamberlain’s older stepbrother Michael was sexually assaulted by his priest at his Catholic church in Brevard when he was 11. They lived apart for decades afterward but shared the same secret. They both found healing in revealing their secret and in speaking publicly about their experiences and about the prevalent problem of child sexual abuse.
Michael wrote and performs a one-man play; Knight wrote a book. Both are advocates for raising public awareness about child sexual abuse.
The documentary reveals some of the common characteristics of child sexual abuse; the guilt and shame felt by survivors; the fear of speaking out; the pain of keeping it secret; and the manipulation of abusers who count on their victims’ silence.
The documentary will include bonus content that examines the prevalence of child sexual abuse, its impact on children, what can be done to prevent it and signs parents can look for to determine if their own children have been abused.
WRAL News anchor and reporter Renee Chou narrates “Speaking the Unspeakable.”