I’d just like to write a quick apology for not writing here in a long time! We were in the middle of moving, and I just couldn’t think of anything to say that would make sense. I’d had trouble remembering what day it was, etc.
Anyway, it has come to my attention that there’s a couple items that I should discuss here and on my personal blog. For those of you who haven’t read my book yet, or finished it, I won’t be revealing anything . . . but this is kind of your spoiler alert.
I know that many are reading about my traumatic story and have questions about it. I’ve gotten some very perceptive questions from the middle school girls in my youth group, which made me wonder what type of questions that others may have for me. I was impressed by their courage to ask me some tough questions, and what they asked me. For example, one asked if I would be able to have children. I realized that I never considered that before, and I just had always assumed that I would be able to. This didn’t make me paranoid, and I do believe that when the time comes I will be fine, but the question took me by surprise.
One of the many purposeful reasons why I’ve written my story is to raise awareness about the trauma I went through. A way to do that is to give people a chance to ask me questions. I know that it’s hard, but I wouldn’t have written the story if I wasn’t prepared to talk about it. It took quite some time before I was ready to do so.
I also know that some readers may not know what to say to me, especially for those who know me and didn’t know anything about my story prior to reading the book. It’s okay to not know what to say. Traumatic incidents are difficult to deal with, but unless someone tells you that they don’t want to talk about it, it’s okay to ask questions like: “Hey, are you okay?” or “Do you need anything?” or if you don’t want to ask, a simple: “I’m sorry you went through that,” is enough. And, we’re also okay with just a listening ear, and a response isn’t always necessary.
Sexual assault is becoming an epidemic partly because we don’t talk about it much, or only the “myths” are argued and believed. We hear the stories on the news, read about it, or see incidents in movies. But, we don’t talk to the victims after the incident, and therefore we don’t know what they need or what to say. So there’s two problems: victims are afraid to speak up, for a variety of reasons. Second, the crimes are horrific and you can’t relate unless you went through it, so people tend to not say anything at all . . . or worse, place blame or judge the victim – that they must have done something wrong to open the door to violence. I’m not too sure why, but people have a difficult time comprehending that sexual assault occurs A LOT, and eventually everyone will know someone who suffered it.
Our close friends and family can be known as secondary victims. It’s hard to hear when a loved one suffers from something terrible, and it can be traumatic to help their loved one survive the incident(s). There are resources available to help family and friends take care of the victim. If you know someone who has gone through trauma and it’s hard for you to process, it’s okay to ask for help. You will not only be helping yourself, but it’s a relief to the victim knowing that you’re learning about ways to help or cope.
Lastly, for now anyway, I would like to respond to why some people (who know me) didn’t hear about my story until after they read about it in the book. As you can see from the novel, my story is long, complex, and I left out some details that I couldn’t talk about because there’s no way to do so without being graphic. It’s easier to have the bulk of the story on the pages, instead of me having to repeat myself over and over. Also, readers may read the story at their own pace if they are struggling with processing that part of the book.
As the victim, you are trying to get a handle on life again, and it’s hard to heal. It’s also your story to tell whenever you are ready. For me, there were moments when it didn’t seem like the right time . . . like, it’s hard to know when it’s okay to bring it up. It’s not like you can talk about it at a family gathering, or have one-on-one conversations with every person you want to tell. Also, writing my story out did play a part in my healing process. It helped me to see that what happened to me was wrong – and a crime, and it allowed for me to stop blaming myself – which is what society prefers that we do, but that’s wrong!
Writing helped me to get the whole story out without interruptions or distractions, as I could get it out all at once and I could say it in whatever way I wanted. For example, when I wrote the first rough draft, I didn’t use a filter or censored myself. Then after my wounds had healed some, I was able to go back and edit the manuscript because I wasn’t as angry, and I no longer felt the need to use explicit details or rough language, and knew which details had to be left out.
I hope that this post will help people who know me to understand me better, and encourage people to ask me questions. To those who were there during my dark time, thank you for your support. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it weren’t for you guys letting me speak.
P.S. My character, Scott Blazer, does not represent anyone who I went to high school with, and I changed all of the details regarding the physical description of my assailant. His name is one that I just made up.