My first two books deal with sexual abuse and recovery. Sometimes I have to write about rape in present and past tense.
1 out of every 6 women in the United States has been raped or experienced an attempted rape. 3% of men have experienced rape and attempted rape. Victims are statistically more likely to experience depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicide attempts, and a plethora of other psychopathologies. In case there was any doubt in your mind, it’s a terrible thing to have to go through. Some victims never get over it.
A recent study indicated that 6% of men are rapists. Most of those are violent, repeat offenders who rape an average of 5.8 women.
I have to assume that a book about sexual assault will appeal not only to victims and the people who care for them, but also rapists.
As part of my research I came across a rape kit video which demonstrated, in detail, how to collect DNA samples from a female rape victim’s body. It was a training video created professionally for professionals in the medical field. But it was visually explicit and could easily be misused despite the intent of the creators. The same is true for books. The author can not control the response of readers, to a certain extent.
I am very careful, when writing about rape, that I hold the victims of the rape in my mind more vividly than I do the perpetrators. To me, the perpetrators’ point of view is trash which can be thrown away like rotten fruit. It may be true that rapists are aroused by rape, whether by their control over the victim or some other aspect of the attack. Their arousal may be a fact, but it is still trash in my point of view. Rapists’ motivations, desires, arousal, and pleasure will not be represented honestly in my stories for this reason alone: I don’t want rapists to enjoy my rape scenes. If you are one, do not come to my book looking for a representation of your feelings. I’m not feeding you.
Let’s make this clear: I am writing this blog post to speak for myself as a writer and the work I produce. I am not trying to set a mandate. My purpose is to let readers know what to expect from my books on a subject which might be triggering.
Yes, my books are emotionally difficult to read because they get to the heart of what it is like to suffer through the aftermath. Yes, some parts may be triggering because I do include scenes with assaults. But, 1 in 6 women and 3% of men are trying to get over the worst moments of their attack. There is often a moment when memories are blocked for survival. I try to give the readers this same space in my writing, a space I hope will allow for as much as readers can handle and no more.
Rape is a sexual, physical, psychological, and emotional assault. After an attack, everything sexual or intimate may be triggering for the victim, even if it’s with someone safe who loves them. The stories I write center around the picking up of pieces, not the act of tearing them apart. The rape scenes are no place to wax lyrical about sexual details. The place for such intimate prose is in my characters’ journey toward healing.
I hope this helps set proper expectations for what you will find when reading Winter Seedlings. Its sequel will be out this winter. Both are very intense books which aren’t easily forgotten, but they intentionally were not written for everyone.