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Watch Now: Affecting Doc On Triumph Over Trauma & Drug Addiction "Healing Neen"

by Vanessa Martinez
April 29, 2012 9:48 AM
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The inspirational 54-min documentary Healing Neen, directed by Laura Cain and produced by Cain and Thom Stromer, the latter who serves as the film's editor, will be screening at the United Film Festival in New York on May 12, 2012. Neen won the Director's Award at the Hearts and Minds Film Festival in Wilmington, DE in April of last year, and was the New Hope prize winner at Pennsylvania's New Hope Film Festival in July of last year.

The doc follows Tonier "Neen" Cain, who after a childhood of trauma, stemming from her mother's neglection due to her crack-addiction, is now a spokesperson for National Center for Trauma-Informed Care. I watched it in its entirety last night; and wow, it's truly an amazing story, which gives a new meaning to faith, strength and the power of change and transformation. You can hardly believe the Tonier Cain today is the same woman once drug-addicted, incarcerated most of her adult life and disregarded as mentally ill.

Here's more about the film:

Healing Neen takes viewers on a journey to places and subjects that most find too difficult or uncomfortable to fathom.  But it is Tonier “Neen” Cain’s joyous spirit and astonishing inner-strength that leaps through the screen directly into viewers hearts, inspiring renewed hope and compassion for those still living on the fringes.

For two decades, Neen hustled on the streets of Annapolis, Maryland, desperately feeding an insatiable crack addiction and racking up 83 arrests along the way.  Rapes and beatings were a routine part of life; home was underneath a bridge or inside the locked cage of a prison.  In 2004, pregnant and incarcerated for violation of parole, she was provided the opportunity to go to a community trauma, mental health and addictions program.

Feeling safe for the first time in her life, Neen confronted the haunting childhood memories that she tried to numb with drugs: filth and chronic hunger, sexual assaults by neighborhood men, routine physical and mental abuse dished out by her drunken mother.  Realizing for the first time that she had been a victim, she began to heal and reclaim power over her life, embarking on a remarkable “upward spiral,” that has no limit.  Today, she works for the National Center for Trauma-Informed Care, dedicating her life to being a voice for those still lost and still silent.  Traveling the country to give speeches and work one on one with women in prisons and hospitals, Neen continues to transform her own life while helping others to embrace her motto “where there’s breath, there’s hope.”

The doc is available for purchase at the film's website HERE.

Watch the feature doc in its entirety below:

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  • Susan Amlani | June 5, 2012 12:49 AMReply

    I was fortunate to hear Tonier when she was speaking in Michigan and her story has stayed with me. I'm a stay at home mother who's children are grown and don't know what I could possibly do, but this story touches me in a place where it will never leave. I agree with Logic, Oprah this is something for you. All the best and thank you for your courage, your determination and your heart.

  • Logic | May 1, 2012 2:46 PMReply

    What an inspiration she is. Thanks for sharing this, it was beyond touching.

    ...Oprah's PA, if you're reading, Neen needs a bigger platform

  • Aaron Rowlands | April 30, 2012 7:19 AMReply

    Vanessa, thank you so much for this - I have uploaded it on my website. I was blown away by it - just magic.

    All The Best

  • Taz | April 29, 2012 9:01 PMReply

    *clapping hands* Bravo Neen........Bravo!

  • Jeremy | April 29, 2012 7:31 PMReply

    This is Amazing. Wonderful post.

  • Vanessa | April 29, 2012 5:59 PMReply

    Thanks for your comment Carey :). I am amazed at how this woman was able to remarkably transcend all her traumas and addiction. And, she doesn't have special powers. But, like she said you can't do it alone and she understood it wasn't her fault. There's a difference in taking responsibility and living with constant guilt, remorse and resentment. She understands that she has to release all of it if she wants to have a productive, happy life. That's the reason she decided not to resent her perpetrators; that's all they know, plus they're addicted to drugs as well. Everyone can learn from her. It's about understanding why most people resort to drugs in the first place, and once someone gets addicted, it totally changes their personality. If they're high all the time, they don't have time to think and deal with their traumas and the repercussions of their actions. There's many people like her: beautiful, intelligent, talented, vibrant that are not able to overcome trauma and addiction because they don't seek help, and they feel it's too late, they don't deserve it and/or they're far too gone. They're not lesser than the rest of us; some of us are just lucky to not have undergone traumas of such magnitude.

  • CareyCarey | April 29, 2012 7:04 PM

    No Vanessa, thank you. You know this is a subject that's dear to my heart, so I am always excited when I see something or someone moving the message. And you are correct, Neen may not have special powers but she IS one of a small few who come back from serious addictions, let alone the traumas she faced. IT JUST DOES NOT HAPPEN on any regular basis. And listen, one of the reasons I gave you a bit of praise was because you know something. I mean, you're making statements that I seldom see from "outsiders". You said this: "There's a difference in taking responsibility and living with constant guilt, remorse and resentment". And you said this: "Everyone can learn from her. It's about understanding why most people resort to drugs in the first place, and once someone gets addicted, it totally changes their personality". And this: "There's many people like her: beautiful, intelligent, talented, vibrant that are not able to overcome trauma and addiction because they don't seek help". Yep, you Vanessa... I can safely assume that you've been around the "problem(s)". You may not have been a "victim" but you've been "related" to it's affects on family and friends. Now, if I can add to your last statement -- many do seek help, but they don't know where to go, who to ask, what to ask, and/or how long the recovery process REALLY takes, so they five so they succumb to pain. The overwhelming majority are ill prepared for the long deep haul of depression, lonliness, boredom, sleepless nights, body & mind aches that one has to go through to get a sniff of a sustained recovery. Neen was incarcerated when she began her new journey, so some choices were made for her, but as you alluded to, it does start within. Let me stop because I can talk all day on this subject. I can talk about Taking Responsibility & Going Back To See Where It All Started. I mean, this is what I do. Take a look at these 2 minute clips of me talking on this very subject. But wait, be forewarned that I speak about serious issues on the wings of humor here--> and here-> AND-->

  • CareyCarey | April 29, 2012 3:53 PMReply

    TO: Vanessa Martinez. FROM: Carey. Hello Vanessa, on several occasions I've championed several posters and visitors on this site. This is especially true when said individuals are talking about things that I really care about, such as issues and questions of the burden of responsibility or, those who have little fear to speak on issues they may not be of the "popular" variety, most of all, movies in general. Well, in Tambay's interview with Variance Films' founder and head Dylan Marchetti, the following spoke to me-- Dylan said: "a hazard of my job is that it's easy to become a bit numb"... **now I am paraphrasing** " And I do believe [there are] "coffee and pie" movies- you can't go straight home after, you've got to go have coffee and pie down the block and talk about what you've just seen. Doesn't get any better than that these days, you know". Well Vanessa, that's the focus of my comment to you. This post, this documentary will not receive loads of comments, nor will the general public care the least about the subject matter, because I can safely assume the average citizen believes the subjects in this film are a subculture and/or a dismissible "group", so they can't relate. Anyway-- back to you. I wanted to praise you and thank you for continually posting films, docs, etc, they may not receive the most hits or comments. As with this doc and the one on the imprisoned African American in a southern prison, I believe there's a bigger message outside the obvious. Granted, african americans commit crimes, participate in drug activities and are vistims of abuse, which leaves more than enough blame to go around. But for me, the messages that I've received from these type of docs are - how important is it for the abused, incarcerated and substance abuser AND the every day working stiff, to find, understand and accept their own culpability in the matters... whatever they may be, so that they can move forward in their lives. For instance, I marveled at how, although Neen's mother abused her, sold her and did drug with her, she was able to still respect and care for her mother . Also, it was interesting to note how she, Neen, viewed her rapists. I believe she has found serveral tools that has allowed her to discharge many negative feelings, emotions and thoughts she may have harbored. She's found a way to move on with a peace of mind and a conviction in her step. Whatever they may be, those tools that fight the battles of our mind, I know we all can use a big slice of that birthday cake. Thanks again Vanessa. Btw, although I don't know you and I am a nobody, you get my Shadow and Act "Spirit & Keep It Humble" award.

  • BluTopaz | April 29, 2012 3:35 PMReply

    Thank you for posting, Ms. Cain is a remarkable lady. The film is done so well also.

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