For me, the October spotlight has always be pink. I've always done my little bit to support the amazing work done for cancer research. And I will continue to do so. But, in the US, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
As you know, over the past ten months my romantic rose tinted world has led me into darker territories. Places where riding off into the sunset doesn't take the heroine to the promised happy ever after. A place where the knight in shining armor becomes the ogre in the princess's fairytale and I'm not talking of the Shrek kind either!
At first, it wasn't too difficult to tread through this world. To read stories about domestic abuse form character profiles. As cold and as detached as that sounds, it was research and I was exploring a world I've never been so I was being ... naive. Looking upon this as any other research project. Well, you're not supposed to let every dark shadow in fiction make you jump, aren't you?
Then a character tried talking to me. Her name is Faith. I've known what was happening to Faith for a long time, she's been a secondary character and her story has weaved through the back story in two of my novels. Put simply, when it came to Faith I couldn't put her life and marriage into words. I couldn't put myself in Faith's shoes. And as an author that's exactly what you do. You put yourself in your character's place to feel, and smell, and taste, and breathe as they do. I didn't think I could do it, nor did I think I could face the reality of her world.
So for weeks I told myself Faith didn't have a story to tell. But I guess that was just me. Seeing only what I wanted to see. Telling myself only what I wanted to hear. Avoiding the subject of domestic abuse because its unpleasant and it doesn't fit with 'they all lived happily ever after' because there is a story. A story Faith forced me to share with you. (Seriously, She hijacked her brother's story and forced me to listen to her voice through something he remembered!) Tainted Love: The Faith McKenzie Story will be released soon.
During the first seven months I never noticed once how the survivor stories were affecting me. And then, one by one, the more stories I read and the more people I spoke with, the more real domestic abuse became. It seemed to take over my subconscious mind. I began having awfully dark dreams and nightmares. By the end of August I felt like I'd run into a brick wall of domestic abuse. I've spent most of September contemplating the dark places it has and will continue to take me.
I voluntarily wondered into this darkness to discover an alarming number of people who have shared their story with me once they'd read Faith's story. I kid you not the statistics of 1 in 4 women is alarming realistic and it means if you know 100 women 25 of them are likely to be victims of domestic abuse (and it's 1 in 6 for men). There are thousands of survivors. People willing to speak out and share their stories. They did not go there by choice. There are also thousands more who still live in fear and silence. They do not choose to stay.
This year, when I do my thing and think pink ... I'll be taking a few extra minutes to think PURPLE.
For more information and Domestic Abuse Charities for help and guidance. See my dedicate page
Domestic Abuse Awareness Week is 21st-25th November in the UK and
Women's Aid international 16 days of Action runs from November 25th - 10th December
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Novel Excerpt - Tainted Love: The Faith McKenzie Story