Sponsored Project

This Is The House Where I Learned Not To Sleep

Anne de Mare, Kirsten Kelly
Anne de Mare, Kirsten Kelly, Andrew W. Schwertfeger
A man in a brown wide-rimmed hat stands facing a white rural house.

Part quest for justice. Part journey towards healing. Two men, survivors of domestic and childhood violence, are determined to end the cultural cycles of abuse that have haunted them and their mothers. Facing deep-rooted resistance, Mark Wynn and Byron Sanders confront outdated systems and bias in law enforcement, family court, and professional sports, challenging other men to stand up and end violence against women.

As a child, Mark hid from both his abusive stepfather and the cops when they showed up at the door. Years later, as a Nashville Police Officer, he was the cop who showed up. “I lived with a monster, I know how this works,” he says, “I’ve been on both sides of that door.” We follow Mark’s deeply personal journey traveling the country - from rural Oklahoma to urban Chicago - on a mission to shatter the culture of violence and silence surrounding crimes against women and end generations of disregard, mishandling and cover-ups within law enforcement. “Every day I go out there and just try to save my mother.” With access into sensitive police trainings, Mark’s journey in the film explores the complex relationship between law enforcement and domestic violence, encountering both stubborn resistance and hard-won reforms.

At six years old, Byron vowed to protect his mother from his father. Now with a young family of his own, Byron helps lead the Dallas HeROs - an unlikely group of Texas businessmen, law enforcement, religious and community leaders who vow “zero tolerance for domestic violence.” Byron and the HeROs sit in solidarity behind women survivors in family court, work with the Domestic Violence Task Force of the Dallas Mavericks, do carpentry to get rooms ready for women and children in crisis at the local shelter, and mentor young boys through the tough transitions involved in leaving their abusers - who are often their fathers.

Against the rise in violence sweeping the country, can Mark and Byron’s efforts help redefine domestic abuse - relegated for years to being “a women’s issue" – in order to save lives and end the cycles of abuse and crimes against women?

Bringing together the Producers, Impact Producers and Filmmakers from The Homestretch, Audrey & Daisy, Private Violence and Bully, this project brings a unique depth to the next film challenging perceptions of violence against women. Supported, in part, by Cindy Waitt and The Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention, Kind World Foundation, Chicago Media Project and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.