For those of you not in the know, my husband and I ended our marriage in January of 2016. The split was amicable but difficult for us both. After the separation, I was treated to the customary vitriol associated with being a woman in possession of a nefarious, magic muffin. I was called a whore and other uplifting names. Blame for the split was placed squarely on my shoulders, despite the fact that my husband and I repeatedly told people this was our personal business, the split was amicable, that the two of us wished the best for one another, and that the split was for the best. I was further attacked for not having physical custody of our daughter and these character assaults, ironically all from women, were harsh, hurtful, damaging, and isolating, and not only caused me pain but my family as well. To this day, my ex remains my closest and most trusted friend.
In March of 2016, my father died of cancer. This was particularly difficult for me to not only accept but to deal with, and in May of 2016, I decided a move might make healing easier, so I relocated to Charleston, SC to finish a mystery series based on the area.
Last night, I received a phone call from a well-meaning individual who wanted to inquire about my mental health. He said I seemed angry and negative and this stood out to him in contrast to the positive, happy person I had been a year ago. This man suggested that it was my duty as a writer to empower others, and to be positive and uplifting. This man has followed me for three years and gently urged me to get help and to get back to writing and being the happy, positive influence on others I had been in the past. Before I go on, I would like to say thank you to this person for taking the time out of his day to ask if I was okay, and for even noticing anything amiss in my personality at all.
I’ve repeatedly had to defend the passionate way in which I address human rights violations. Worse, I have to defend even writing in the dark fiction genre. I’m not sure if my male activist friends and male dark fiction/horror writers are ever routinely asked if they’re angry, but I kind of doubt it. Usually, men like this are respected, called leaders and strong, and offered other attributes of praise for their words/work. I won’t linger on this issue, as I’ve addressed it SO MANY FUCKING TIMES. Suffice it to say, in my literary and activist pursuits, I’m not an angry woman, and you can all fuck off with this sexist shit.
However, I am going through some things in my personal life and do have some anger to deal with in regard to those issues. After the separation and my father’s death, I became depressed. I also suffered from empty nest syndrome, which is nothing to take lightly, as I’ve discovered. Writing was impossible under the emotional duress so I focused instead on victim advocacy and began working full-time in the hope that these distractions might help the words to return. I was working on two books, and the content was especially dark, much darker than I had the capability to endure with the turmoil in my personal life being so heavy. I rejected two book deals in the last few years. They were shit deals. I have been writing sporadically here and there, but not with any consistency, and this is not ideal for any novelist, but I will resume writing on a regular basis when I am ready, and I will publish the novel I finished in March of 2016, just not anytime soon.
During my time in Charleston, I was sexually assaulted six times. The last sexual assault, which occurred barely a month ago was terrifying and worse than any other sexual assault I’ve experienced in my life. I’m a survivor of child abuse, child sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence, and various sexual assaults from people I knew and trusted and from strangers alike. I’ve dealt with multiple stalkers as well. I’ve been sexually assaulted sixteen times in total, and reported all but the last six assaults to police. In these reported cases, only three men served jail time. Together they served a grand total of two nights and three months jail time before being released back into society. There are people serving longer sentences for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. So, no, I did not report the last six instances of sexual assault, because what’s the fucking point?! I wish I could say this number of sexual assaults/abuse was my experience alone, but sadly, this is the norm for women around the world, and it doesn’t look like that situation will end. Ever.
Currently, I’m experiencing PTSD from the last assault. I did everything right. I didn’t mislead my attacker or make him think I was attracted to him in any way, I was not dressed provocatively, I was not drunk, nor was I out in public at night, alone. I was asleep in bed. I must have said no at least fifty times, if not more. When I chose to confide in others, these were the responses I received from each person:
Was he drunk? Where was my boyfriend?
Really?! I shouldn’t have to point out the fundamentally flawed thinking in these responses. The majority of rape and sexual assault/abuse cases go unreported because of the lack of justice and due to this type of blame placement/victim blaming. Alcohol was not to blame for my sexual assault nor was this my boyfriend’s fault for simply not being present. The blame rests solely on my attacker. It was his fault and his alone.
Which brings me to the point of this post. I don’t believe myself to be a public figure in any sense. I apologize to anyone who feels I’ve abandoned them during my hiatus from writing. I’m not responsible for your happiness. My duty as a writer is to tell you a story. That’s it. I’m not even responsible for your interpretation of that story. A story is all I owe you. Nothing more. You are responsible for your own happiness, and if you’re experiencing trauma or pain in your life then I encourage you to seek professional help.
I take my mental health seriously, and once I’ve healed, I’ll resume writing. Even after I’ve healed, I’ll still be accused of being an angry woman. I get that. This patriarchal society hates “outspoken” women.
I thank everyone for their concern and ask that you respect my privacy and my family’s privacy, as they do not wish to be a part of whatever my affiliation is with the public. Some of you have gone as far as to send messages of a sexual nature to my eldest daughter, and this is not okay. For the sake of my family’s safety and privacy, and at their request, I will no longer mention them publicly.
I am grateful to all my readers and followers, especially to those of you who have been with me from the beginning. Thank you. I am especially grateful to the man who took the time out of his day to inquire about my emotional well-being. Thank you for noticing, thank you for caring, and thank you for being a friend.
Know that I’m safe, I’m in counseling, and in time, I will be okay, but for now, let me be angry, let me be sad, and let me heal.