Joan Collins shocked her fans when she revealed that she had been raped by her older boyfriend when she was 17 years old, and went on to marry him two years later.
Now the filmmaker she was prepared to speak to about it on camera, Linor Abargil – a former Miss World and a rape victim herself - tells HuffPostUK what was behind the screen legend’s trauma, and her decision to share it.
“She married the man because she was too scared to tell her parents what had happened,” reveals Linor, whose Emmy-nominated film ‘Brave Miss World’ sees her talking to rape victims from all over the world.
“It was amazing that Joan agreed to be part of our film,” reflects Linor. “It was an honour to speak with her. I think she felt that we didn’t have a big budget, and she came with a hope to help us make change, a big change.”
Another surprise contributor is Hollywood veteran Fran Drescher, and Linor hopes including the stories of stars like these makes people realise the extent of the incidence of rape across different cultures, and how many different types of people it touches. “They are the same role models as a beauty queen would be,” says Linor. “We are not robots. We’re not who we appear on the outside.”
Joan, Fran and the other contributors were no doubt moved by the experience of the filmmaker herself. When Israeli beauty contestant Linor Abargil accepted her crown as Miss World in 1998, she was crying – not from joy, but because she had been savagely beaten and raped six weeks before by a man employed as her escort to the airport.
The film, produced by Inbal Lessner, includes Linor’s battle to see the culprit kept behind bars, but is will be out in December after 16 years in prison. In all that time, Linor has not stopped in her crusade to turn something terrible into something good, meeting victims all over the world, attending the Emmy Awards, speaking with White House officials and sharing her own experiences.
“I believe that, when you talk about the painful stuff in your life, it’s the best healing,” she explains. “And often no one speaks for years after a rape, because of the shame.
“But I chose to speak, and I keep speaking.I want people to know that you have to speak to move on, you have to set it free, and then you realise that it’s only one part of your life, but it’s not what you are.
“I’ve travelled all over the world, and seen how many girls, and men, have been affected. And this way, they can see me, and think, if she can talk about it, I can.”
'Brave Miss World' is available in the UK and Ireland on Netflix. It was screened as part of the UK Jewish Film Festival, from 6th – 23rd November. Please go to http://ukjewishfilm.org/ for more information. Watch the trailer below...