Filed under: WOCA Anthology | Tags: child abuse, child abuse anthology, child abuse fiction, child abuse stories, child abuse story, child abuse writing, Gillian Colbert, Helping Out, hope, responsible erotic fiction, true story, WOCA, writing, Writing Out Child Abuse
When J.S. asked me to write a page or two about “you and what WOCA means to you,” I thought sure, no problem, yet I’ve sat here for about half an hour just staring at a blank screen. How do you encapsulate a project that represents both a labor of love and penance? When J.S. first sent me the link for WOCA, I was simply looking for ways to promote my erotica writing. My thoughts didn’t really go beyond that, however, I clicked the link and was pulled into his story of why he founded Writing Out Child Abuse and I knew that I wanted to be a part of the project even if not one single word of my own writing made it into the anthology.
I could quote statistics about children who are abused, but truthfully we all know them even if we choose to look past them. What child abuse means to me, however, is my niece who was molested at nursery school, my friend who was sold as a young girl to pay for her sister’s drug habit, my sister’s best friend who was molested by her father for years until she finally broke free when she went to college, my friend in high school who came to school covered in bruises in testament to her father’s need to “keep her in line,” and my own experience as a thirteen year old whose science teacher tried to trade physical acts for getting out of detention. And, this is just my own personal circle.
I was lucky. I ran and reported my teacher. It did no good, he wasn’t even punished, but he didn’t touch me. Not everyone is as lucky as I was and they carry scars I can’t even begin to imagine. But, that doesn’t mean that I’m pristine in this. The abuse I personally suffered was that of neglect. Parents who left me alone to raise myself, who left me to suffer at the age of four with a broken collar bone because they “didn’t believe it hurt” so it had to be rebroken and healed crooked, who provided food and shelter but nothing else, who belittled and humiliated me at every turn. Emotional abuse carries its own scars, the worst of which though, are the ones that make you think that type of behavior is normal and okay. They are your parents after all. We are hard-wired to believe they know what they are doing.
I absorbed their lessons and carried them with me into adulthood. I became the very thing that had harmed me. I neglected those closest to me. I poured my attention and care into my indulgences and avoided all emotional connection. I became mean and bitter and was toxic to be around. The invisible chains of abuse were firmly wrapped around me and I couldn’t see them until one day my daughter told me exactly why she never wanted to see me again.
There is nothing like the honesty of children. They don’t pull any punches and the mirror they hold up to your face is unlike any that an adult could provide. You can rationalize an adult’s world view, but a child doesn’t have enough life experience to manipulate at that level. She was right. I knew I had to find a way to break the cycle of abuse that I was perpetuating. I began to write poetry. I found I could say things poetically that I am unable to articulate in speech. It’s been a rough road, the insecurity and worthlessness that I carry runs deep. The anger festers. I struggle to find ways to channel it productively and am working on embracing success as the best form of therapy.
In one of my worst periods, a good friend told me that when you harm something you have to also try to heal it. The Light in the Darkness anthology is part of that healing process. Children are precious and they need to be cherished. It is my hope that this project will help bring a little light into the lives of children who at this very moment are scared and hurting. They deserve it.
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