Pleasanton native and filmmaker Jillian Corsie is going public with her "deepest, darkest secret": Twelve years ago when she was a college freshman, barely 18, she was sexually assaulted by a classmate in her dorm.
"When I reported it, the police told me 'not to mix alcohol and beauty,'" she recalled.
College girlfriends were not much more understanding, and she ended up seeing her attacker frequently during her next four years on campus while dealing with anxiety and feelings of isolation.
Then during last year's presidential election when a video went viral of then-candidate Donald Trump bragging about grabbing women, assaults on women became a widespread topic. Corsie was one of hundreds of thousands who responded by tweeting about her assault, she said, and filmmakers contacted her to learn more.
"I thought, 'I am a documentary filmmaker. I will tell my own story,'" recalled Corsie, a 2005 graduate of Amador Valley High, whose last documentary, "Trichster," is still viewed daily online and selling DVDs.
Corsie and co-director Amy Rosner began quietly working on the documentary, "Second Assault," a year ago, going to the scene of the attack to explore the fallout from the failure of the university and law enforcement to protect her.
"I felt that it was time to finally confront my past, and I traveled back to my school to confront the police officer who took my report and revisit the darkest time of my life," Corsie said. "And I did it all on camera."
First Corsie emailed to set up a meeting with the policeman, repeating his hurtful response to her assault report. She arrived to find he had framed her email and put it on his desk as a reminder that words can have an impact.
"We were lucky he was so open and willing," Rosner said. "But it's not just about Jillian or this policeman. It's about the myths of due process for survivors. There's a systemic problem, and this policeman is a product of this system."
"It's a short film, about 20 minutes, really about the conversations that we need to be having," she added. "It's about Jillian's journey to confront the system that failed her."
The title "Second Assault" does not just apply to what happened to Corsie when she reported the assault, they noted. It refers to the fact people in general don't know how to provide support in such situations.
"A barely 18-year-old girl doesn't know how to talk about it," Corsie said. "I didn't want to deal with it."
Rosner said the film is about consent, which should be taught as part of masculinity, and about conversations that haven't taken place.
"Within Jillian's experience is that of many survivors -- people don't believe you," Rosner said. "Myths of false reporting -- it's built into our culture to not believe women. This makes it so hard for survivors to come out. Society doesn't tell us that it's OK to believe people."
"We need to include men in this conversation," she added. "We can't just talk about women as victims. We have heard a lot from the men in our lives."
"We spend a lot of time teaching our daughters not to get raped," Corsie said. "Parents are more concerned that their daughters may be sexually assaulted than that their sons will be the assaulters."
As colleges try to deal with the problem, they often attribute it to alcohol.
"Alcohol certainly is a risk factor, but it is not the cause," Rosner said. "When a college says this is the problem, they are completely missing the point and not taking responsibility."
The film addresses the question of what survivor justice looks like. Rosner points out that a student is more likely to be expelled for plagiarism than for raping someone.
A year after they began "Second Assault," the topic is being explored even more, with the claims against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other Hollywood figures.
"It's the story of tens of thousands of survivors that happens everywhere," Corsie said.
She went public with her secret recently when they released the documentary's trailer as part of a funding campaign. She called the outing "a very terrifying thought" but hoped it would help give the campaign momentum.
"We are finished shooting, but we are still editing and hoping to be done next week," Corsie said. "We have everyone lined up and waiting -- but we need to pay them."
They are also submitting the documentary to festivals, which takes money.
"This is a passion project. Both of us work full-time -- this is a night and weekend job," Corsie said.
Corsie is lead editor at TBWA/Chiat Day, and Rosner is a documentary development producer at RYOT Films, both in Los Angeles. The two have started a production company called Solidarity Films (wearesolidarityfilms.com) to tell authentic stories about women.
"I know it was a long time ago, but through this film I've found healing I didn't know I needed," Corsie said.
See the trailer at their crowdfunding site: www.seedandspark.com/fund/secondassault#story.