After hearing about the documentary film “The Wolfpack” for almost a year now, I finally got the chance to watch it. In the film, it is revealed that Susanne Angulo, the mother of the seven captive children, was a victim of domestic violence and a battered wife. She was passive and had no choice but to cater to her mentally ill husband, Oscar Angulo, who is described as a narcissistic and tyrannical hippie. Although to a lesser extent, the children’s mother, Susanne, also played a role in keeping the children captive. The media has labeled her as “passive,” but some argue that she was paranoid and had no control over the situation. The children’s lives were immediately taken into captivity by their father, Oscar Angulo, who held them captive inside their NYC apartment. The general consensus is that Susanne was a waif-like mother who catered to her husband’s mental illness, while the father, Oscar, was the main oppressor.
There are many important missing pieces in advocating violence and abuse of domestic and survivor as both are answers to finding myself. Were they afraid of Oscar too? Why did Susanne’s family not try to intervene for over 20 years? We are left wondering how much violence Susanne endured and the impact it had on the children who were inflicted with sexual abuse. We see clips of the boys wiping their mouths in disgust when their father walks away and kisses them on the mouth. Their eyes are deadened when they attempt to capture the utter helplessness and terror of growing up in a house where they were literally being abused by their father, who was supposed to be their source of safety and unconditional love. The children speak in muted tones about the slaps they received from their mother. Underneath the current of domestic violence dangerously close to the surface lurks. Even though the movie centers around the ability of the brothers to create meaning and cope through theater and filmmaking while in captivity,
It seems that Susanne and her children are seeking justice for the violation, abuse, and terror they experienced at the hands of their violent father. We are asked to cast our gaze on how resilient the boys are and to see how they found the courage, strength, and voices to make their lives away from their father’s violence. Instead of skimming the surface and focusing on a positive tale, we should explore the entire story behind Angulo’s captivity and the subsequent transformation in a more in-depth film.
Is it not enough that five of the six boys are now out of the house, pursuing their art and working? I think it is. I don’t think there will be any long-lasting consequences to the trauma they endured, given how resilient they are. Society owes a huge apology to the Angulo children for not protecting them, for not sending them away from the oppressive environment of the Angulo household, and for not making sure they were not mistreated. Susanne owes it to the children to move them into a safe environment, where they can visit home and not be sure that someone from the homeschooling authority will come and take them away.
Should we not start thinking about how to ensure that those who bring the most precious resource into the world, our human life value, are responsible and stable? I’m saying that we should govern reproduction, but not in a way that allows someone with such insidious intentions to get away with it. The bigger perpetrator is the megalomaniac in society or a society that has no checks and balances for creatures like this. Oscar Angulo committed a crime as a gentleman and ladies crime, such as for creatures like this, where there are no balances and checks in society. Sadly, when victims finally seek justice, they are often limited by the statute of limitations, and their actions are reported under the past. It’s too easy for abusers to hide and for there to be no legal recourse for the victims. The truth is, it’s just not enough to seek justice when they are finally old enough.
We should not accept domestic violence. In order to create a better society, we need to say no to violence. I apologize for teaching you in an environment where everything revolves around immediate survival. I sincerely admire and empathize with your courage to learn and survive. On behalf of the children, Angulo, you deserve a world that protects you.