I’ve only just realized how much sexual assault comes in to my books. I don’t do it on purpose, so I’m not exactly sure why this is.
It happens in Knee Deep. Not a rape, but an attempt. It comes up in Night Sky in a way I can’t mention because it would ruin part of the story. Stronger Than You Know takes place a few months after a girl is pulled from a horrible situation where she was repeatedly raped by her mother’s boyfriend. And I’m working on a book called Deal, where one of the protagonists (the guy) is dealing w/ the aftermath (several years) of a sexual assault involving his uncle.
(Psst – that “stronger than you know” pic?? That’s another hint at my cover… I may have squealed when I saw that font INSIDE my book, and then squealed more when I was told that my cover designer of awesomeness HAND DREW IT FOR MY BOOK)
I think the inclusion of sexual assault in my books has to do with several things:
First off, Christa said it better HERE, but I want people to see how often this happens. Our children are turned into victims more than we’ll ever hear about, and starting a dialogue is key.
I’ve seen a few of these rape questionnaires floating around, and I’m shocked at how many people feel like there is any situation, ever, where rape is justified. This is so completely horrifying. How can we expect our young men and women to ever come forward when their peers are saying – well, if they’re naked and one wants to stop, we understand why the other wouldn’t be able to… WHAT??
Even in a prosecutor’s office as small as the one my husband works in (11 attorneys) they have one prosecutor who does nothing but domestic violence and sex crimes. One out of eleven – practically a tenth of the cases. And that doesn’t mean the rest of them don’t get any of those types of cases, it means that one person gets the most complicated ones.
In my husband’s nine years with his office, none of which he has served as the sex prosecutor, he has worked on about 10 rape cases – at least two of which he took to trial. He was part of the investigation on a case where the stepdad repeatedly raped his wife’s daughter, and then used her to teach his sons how to have sex. Interestingly enough, it was one of the sons who turned him in.
He took a case to trail where this guy grabbed several girls breasts in the middle of a grocery store – 15 to 16 years old. He came home overwhelmed at the bravery of these girls in speaking up in a courtroom and in front of a jury when the word bra still made them blush. Imagine how much courage it takes to come forward with a more serious situation.
One sexual assault involved a bloody diaper as evidence.
One was a girl who wanted to have sex, and then the way that the guy wanted to have sex changed, she said no, and he did it anyway. Sadly, that case went to trial and the defendant was found to be not guilty. The jury actually wanted to pen a warning to the two teens that they should stop drinking to prevent being on trial and being raped. My husband refused. (Love him so much).
A girl I used to babysit would give blow-jobs in front of the Pizza Hut to score weed or pills. I knew several people who did this.
I’ve had two close friends wake up naked after a party, having no idea how she got that way or what happened to her while she was out. This very situation is the jump-off point for an ongoing murder case in Palmer near where I live.
Sexual assault happens so often it’s frightening. Terrifying. Horrifying. And so often the assaults are because of parents not protecting their children, or friends who are afraid to turn in their peers.
In ALL of the dozens and dozens of cases that my husband has seen in his 9 years, only two sexual assaults have been between people who didn’t know each other.
So, yes. We need to start a dialogue. Teens and all of us need to know there are places we can go and people we can talk to. We need to know that anytime someone pushes too far when we say no, it’s an assault.
I guess what I’m saying is that as long as I’m writing for teens, I’m going to be writing about issues that I wish we were all talking about more. Acting to help more–even if that action is simply spreading awareness.
I can tell you from experience that most teen shelters are looking for soap/shampoo, backpacks and hoodies. Almost ALL the time. (okay, maybe Florida has less need of hoodies than Alaska 😉 But most local teen shelters keep online lists of things they need. This is not a hard thing to donate to. Just TALKING gets other people TALKING and eventually all that TALKING turns into ACTION. I know this seems like a leap after sexual assault, but support is support, and I want to contribute.
We can do small things. Simple things. I really, truly believe that it is so often the smallest acts that change lives for the better.
So. Hopefully we’ll all use April (sexual assault awareness month) as a way to TALK, and to keep talking long after the month is out.