Into The Storm

A Documentary Film | Formerly Recovering Irma

The Film

On the verge of shutting herself off from her family to escape her painful past, Sandra receives a phone call from her nephew Lorenzo who tells her he was arrested for domestic violence and didn't know how to change. When she starts to support her nephew on how to change she learns she must forgive her father, so her past doesn't determine her future.

At some point in almost everyone’s life, there comes a challenge so overwhelming, so painful, that it forces a course of action – to run and hide or to turn and head bravely Into the Storm. For filmmaker Sandy Salas, that defining challenge occurred on the day her Father took a gun and killed her Mother and then turned the gun on himself. Into the Storm is the heart-wrenching, inspiring journey of Sandy’s life as she confronts the complexities of the domestic violence that shattered her family.

Into the Storm is a story about legacy – about the legacy caused by cycles of domestic violence, and the desire to create a new family legacy of one’s own, one that reverses violence and builds on hope and forgiveness. It’s the autobiographical tale of filmmaker Sandy Salas, the youngest of the five Salas siblings born to Irma and Rudy Salas Jr. It’s the story of a deeply loving family who battled against the dark despair of violent abuse, and the toll that violence took on their lives long after the day that Rudy Salas Jr. killed his wife and then killed himself. The story follows Sandy as she seeks to understand how the cycle of domestic violence started in her family and how to stop it in her nephew Lorenzo’s life while coming to terms with her family’s painful history.


Be the Buffalo

Sandra first heard this famous Cherokee life lesson from her oldest brother just a year before their mother’s murder. On a bicycle trip from Portland, Oregon to Washington, D.C., he sent her a postcard telling her to pay attention to the buffalo she would encounter along the route. 

“When there’s a storm, cows and other animals run away from it,” he said. “But, the buffalo charges directly toward the storm and gets through it quicker.”  

Little did Sandra know that only one year later this life lesson would be so tragically significant to her life. After her mom was murdered, Sandra was overcome by grief and used dubious ways to deal with the pain, thinking she could outrun it. When Sandra finally hit rock bottom, she realized the importance of her family’s vow. She wants to help fulfill that vow and because of her nephew Lorenzo, she has to do it now.She also wants to create a new legacy for her mother, one that truly represents her mother’s life. Her mother wasn’t just a victim despite being victimized—she was more than that. 

Sandra has to “be the buffalo” to fulfill these goals. She has to charge directly towards the family’s disease, in search of answers to the difficult question, “How do you end domestic violence?”


Website imagery by: Roberto Salas "Dia de los Muertos Altar/Art Installation", Escondido, California