Writing Out Child Abuse

R. Renee Vickers on Surviving and Change by Diamonds and Dogs

Please join me in welcoming R. Renee Vickers, contributing author to A Light in the Darkness, to the WOCA Blog. Renee can be found regularly at her blog Muse Ampoule.


I would never say the words “I had it bad.” I faced problems and difficulties, like so many of us do, and I survived them. They’ve made me who I am today, for the good or not. It’s hard to discern if the obstacles I faced as a child are the root cause of the strife I carry in my adult life or if my anxieties, insecurities and broken feelings are simply flaws in my character, but I’ll share my experiences and allow you to come to your own conclusions.

My brother and I were raised by a very young single mother who made sure we had clothes on our backs, food in our bellies, and a roof over our heads – no matter how temporary.  That being said, as an adult and a parent myself, I know a child needs much more than the basic necessities to thrive. Stability, security, and parents who are emotionally available are some of the things I noticed lacking as I look back on my childhood. What people would consider neglect today. Poor choices and facts of reality lead to annual moves, changes in towns, schools, friends, and changes in family as marriages and divorces occurred. Year after year, I learned to gain new friends quickly only to have them ripped away as I found myself placed in new and unfamiliar situations. And, as a consequence there were many times I was exposed to emotionally abusive people. I can only be thankful that it wasn’t worse than that. I know it could easily have been.

I consider myself lucky. All of these situations taught me to adapt and be flexible, they taught me that it was only my opinion of myself that really mattered in the end, and not what others thought of me. Yes, I still struggle with viewing myself as worthy or good, but it gets better as years march on. I never had the mentality of a victim, and only thought like a survivor. I took everything negative in my experiences and turned them into lessons of what to do and what not to do.  I believe it’s because of this that now, as an adult, I can look back on my childhood and pull what good there was in there and forgive the bad because really, my upbringing showed me that people are worth so much more.

When J.S. invited me to be on this project and told me what sort of story he’d like to see I said of course I’d like to participate, but really had no idea what to write. It took me a while to come up with something but when it did it hit me like a freight train. As a parent, I couldn’t fathom writing a story showing the very worst of what happens on a daily basis to children, but I could write from the perspective of a survivor, and that’s the story line my piece takes. My main character Grace de Pierre takes the wrongs that were done to her as a child to effect a change on her world. She works tirelessly with police detectives to find abducted children before it’s too late, to give them the chance to retain their innocence. When Madeline Sanders is reported missing, Grace’s uncanny ability to track down the perpetrator leaves her face to face with the horrors from her past. Madeline’s life, and the opportunity for Grace to heal the wounds of her past are on the line.

My story, “Chasing Ashes,” is of one survivor doing everything in her power to ensure that there are as few additional victims in this world as possible. Isn’t that what we’re all supposed to do?

So, even if the only way I have to help support the victims of child abuse and potentially help keep other children from abuse and neglect all together, is to lend my voice to the growing number of people who say, enough is enough, I couldn’t ask for a better project to participate in. Thank you J.S. for including me and thank you to the other authors and to Laurie Sanders at Black Velvet Seductions for your participation.


Healing by Diamonds and Dogs

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.

How I Came to Write “A Single Act of Prolonged Vengeance” by Diamonds and Dogs

Please join me in welcoming Eric Keys to the WOCA Blog. Eric is one of the contributing authors to A Light in the Darkness, the upcoming WOCA anthology. 


Honestly, I’m not a “cause” person. I don’t get involved in crusades or even walk-a-thons typically. If a friend or co-worker asks me to donate or pledge, I try to be generous, but usually my involvement is quite abstract. I do it because it’s important to a friend rather than because the cause means something to me. That’s kind of how I got involved with WOCA. A friend of mine – Gillian – suggested I write a piece, and my first impulse was to dismiss it. But, because she was my friend I decided to mull it over.

I had mixed feelings about this at first. On the one hand I definitely am anti-child abuse. But, I am opposed to it in much the same way I’m opposed to so many other evils in this world that have not affected me. Perhaps I am a selfish person.

People are by nature dreamers. We think about what could be and what could have been. I have a son who is two years old – Zeke. He and I were riding the subway together and I saw a very unhappy child about Zeke’s age. I have no reason to think that this other child was abused, but the fear and pain in his eyes was real. As often is the case, my heart went out to the little tyke and to the child’s parents and to my own son. I know Zeke will see pain.

What if the pain he experienced was not the run of the mill pain that I have experienced in my life? What if the pain he experienced was pain that I dare not even imagine? What would it be like to know about that?

That is how Andon was born. He’s just a man with a humble job and a family. Perhaps he is even a good man. Well, as good as anyone in this corrupt world is. What happens when a man sees what no man should ever see? What would happen if he was given tools to act out his impulses? Would he still be good? Would his goodness disintegrate or simply be buried ? What if someone came into his life who forced him to decide if he would continue on the natural, the oh-so-understandable path he was on, or if he would try to recover some of that goodness? And, that is how Cera was born.

People need other people. It’s such a cliche and it goes against my inner cynic, but it’s true. I needed Gillian to give me the encouragement to write this. Andon needed Cera to help him make the choice he needed to make. My son needs me just to survive some days. Even cynics like me need people.


Gillian: Eric, thank you so much. I’m humbled. We need cynics like you just as much!

I Want to, But … by Diamonds and Dogs

Note: As many of you may know, J.S. is recovering from a health mishap. So, while he wrestles with the existential question of how to relax and still be productive, I’ll be holding down the fort over here on the WOCA blog.


A lit candle

A light in the darkness

When I first saw the call for the WOCA anthology, I immediately knew I had to be a part of it. Child abuse touches us all in a variety of ways and the concept of being part of an endeavor that actually could provide a tangible benefit to abuse victims was irresistible. I jumped on board and began to communicate with J.S. about my submission and anything else I could to do help.

It came as quite a shock to me to find out several months later that J.S. was actually short the number of authors he needed in order to get the anthology published. I had honestly assumed that there would be no shortage of submissions. Once I heard this news, I knew there was no way I was going to standby and not at least try to recruit some more submissions. If that didn’t work, we’d try something else, but it hurt nothing to post a request up on my blog. Many of my readers also write fiction.

I posted my request and much to my consternation I received many emails that started, “I want to, but…” Insert whatever you want behind the statement. My heart broke with each one of those emails. In the end, I had to reach out specifically to two of my readers whose writing I really enjoyed and both agreed to write and submit a story. We had our quota.

What I got to thinking about, however, is how often we all say, “I want to, but …” I’ve done it more times than I can count. As I pondered the many times I stepped away from an opportunity, it occurred to me that it would be so much better if we amended that statement to, “I want to, but what if I don’t?”

Like everyone else, I’m juggling tons of things in my own life. I’m a full-time technical writer for an R&D firm, I have my own writing projects, I have a family and two dogs and I’m currently pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing. In order to write my submission, I had to take time away from work and stay up late into the night. I pulled out over 10,000 words in one day and by the time I typed that last word I could barely focus on the screen in front of me.

I’m not trying to pound my chest, I’m only trying to say that this project meant that much to me because whenever I was tempted to say, “I want to, but” I thought about “what if I don’t.” What if all of the authors writing for this anthology said the same thing? Then the anthology doesn’t get written. Then there is no chance of raising any money for a worthy cause. Then a child somewhere has no chance of the scars being inflicted on them at this moment, fading into something they can live with.

Are we changing the world? No, but just maybe we are changing one child’s life. For me, that was worth staying up late, working overtime to meet a deadline at my 9-5 and requesting an extension from my professor to hand in my assignment late.

The anthology is now in its final stages and more and more people are helping out and donating their time. I’m so honored to be a part of this endeavor and can’t wait to see the final product. When that time comes, however, I can tell you up front, that we’ll be reaching out to you and to many others to help us get the word out. We aren’t Random House or Amazon, we have limited reach by ourselves. When that time comes, I hope you’ll all join me in saying, “But what if I don’t?”

Some Revelations… by jswaynemajordoma
January 18, 2012, 7:27 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

When I started putting the wheels for WOCA and the forthcoming anthology A Light In The Darkness in motion, I had only the vaguest idea what I hoped to accomplish. I knew perfectly well that I was asking my fellow authors to explore something painful. What I didn’t know, and should have realized from my own experience, was the depth of the emotional wounds I was asking them to reopen.

Several of the authors have told me their own, real-life stories. Those tales are not mine to tell, and if they choose to do so, they will in their own good time. The memory of abuse is a unique and horrible pain, and it is something you don’t simply “get over.” You get past it, you learn to live with it, you learn to cope. But those scars never truly heal, and many of us live in terror of becoming the very monsters we fear and despise.

I knew WOCA was deeply personal to me. But I didn’t realize, although in retrospect it should have been glaring obvious, just how personal it was to the other people who’ve gotten involved. We are united by shared pain, by shared rage, and by a cold, burning desire to keep our past from becoming another innocent’s future and fate.

All those who have told me their stories and submitted stories for A Light In The Darkness, knowing full well they were giving their work and sharing their pain with the world for nothing but the chance to make a difference in our world, are incredibly brave souls. They have delved into the most harrowing corners of their individual beings to answer this call. For my part, I applaud all of them for their courage and pray that the good I believe this project will do will in some small way offset the terrible memories they’ve forced themselves to relive .

As I’m writing this, my wife is watching Criminal Minds in the other room. A quote from G.K. Chesterton is recited by Thomas Gibson, and this quote sums up WOCA’s aim in a uniquely poignant way:

“Fairy tales do not give a child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.”

The stories included in A Light In The Darkness are no fairy tales and are certainly not intended for children’s eyes. Many adults will find this subject matter disturbing, because every shading of child abuse is explored in an unflinching and forthright, sometimes brutal, manner. What these stories offer is redemption for the abused, even if not in the way the reader might expect or hope, and justice for their tormentors.

To the best of my knowledge, a project on this scale and with these aims has never been attempted before. Child abuse is viewed as a taboo subject, to be spoken of in whispers if at all, in the confines of one’s own home, church, or with one’s therapist. What we set out to do is tear down the wall of silence and prove that child abuse is not something to speak of in whispers, but in wrathful screams.

If you know or have reason to believe that a child you know is being abused in any way, do not hesitate. Do not think twice. Contact your local authorities immediately. The key to saving children from becoming their tormentors is early action and intervention. Too many children do not get the assistance they need early enough to help, to their own detriment and that of society.

Don’t let someone you love have to live with those scars.

Keep watching this blog for more updates and information about the authors who’ve lent their talents to Writing Out Child Abuse, and keep your eyes open for the WOCA monthly newsletter, coming soon!

Until next time,


J.S. Wayne

Applause For E-Book Eros by jswaynemajordoma


Although we as Americans enjoy certain basic protections under the law, this chilling question strikes right at the heart of where the line between free speech and criminal behavior is drawn. Rather than pulling this offensive work off their shelves immediately and thereby appointing themselves arbiters of taste and morality, E-book Eros instead put the question to the readers as to whether or not books such as this are “acceptable” fare. For which they should be applauded; how many banned books exist that have achieved such status on FAR less merit than the work in question?

While, as publishing industry professionals in our own right, we support the First Amendment right to free speech, we also balance that right with the belief that certain subjects simply are not okay to portray in anything approaching a positive manner.

And a book that purports to give advice on how to be a better pedophile certainly falls firmly into the latter category.

So let E-book Eros know that although we support the First Amendment rights of authors and have no issue with sex-positive works, there are some taboos that should stay that way. One voice can be heard, and we, as a voice for those who have none, can and should speak out against guides which seem to suggest it’s in any way acceptable behavior to victimize our children.

Writing Out Child Abuse by jswaynemajordoma
August 22, 2011, 4:09 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The first thing you should know is, I’m not an organizer. I’m a heavy lifter, a workhorse, and an idea kind of person. Funny how things change.

This whole concept started when I read a couple of truly horrifying child abuse stories in the forum of one of the critique groups I belong to. I stared at the stories in open-mouthed shock.

Then the anger started.

Not the “I need to punch a wall and get it out of my system” kind of anger. This wasn’t even the “I need to go out in the desert with a firearm and go target shooting until I feel better” kind of anger. This was something colder and darker. Something deeper. And something that I knew could never be exorcised.

The second thing you should know is: I myself am a survivor of child sexual abuse.

There. I said it.

The abuse I suffered wasn’t at the hands of a family member or loved one. My family didn’t have any idea until I finally acknowledged what had happened, years after the fact. Years of hiding what had befallen me, of shame that somehow I had done something wrong, and of behaving in ways that left my family absolutely confounded, because they simply didn’t have the right information to understand what was inside me, trying to claw its way into the light.

When they found out, they spent a lot of time in recrimination. The signs were so clear in retrospect, and they just never quite put the pieces together. No matter how I assured them it wasn’t their fault, and that they couldn’t have known about what happened because I didn’t tell them, it made no difference. Parents being parents, I suppose. But nevertheless, my abuser set into motion something that had immediate and far-reaching effects for my family and the ripples in my life from what happened are still with me to this day.

To this day, I struggle with depression. My expressions of anger are occasionally more appropriate to a three-year-old (the age at which it happened, if you’re curious) than to a thirty-three-year-old man. There is still a feeling of shame, no matter how irrational it may be.

It also gave me a unique perspective on, appreciation for, and empathy for victims of child abuse. And a very harsh and unforgiving outlook on their abusers.

But for years, I didn’t have any clear idea of what to do to help others who’d been through what I have, beyond “something.”

That changed yesterday. I asked one question in the forum. When I had my answer, I got to work.

And this is the result: A collaboration between publishers, agents, and authors to help kids in situations like my own . . . and even worse. Kids who are in constant physical, mental, and emotional jeopardy and turmoil because of something that wasn’t their fault.

It’s in its infancy, but the overwhelming response in ONE DAY tells me that there are good people out there who want to make a difference. So I, and the other authors that have been contacted to assist with this undertaking, will keep on.

We’re going to tell our stories. The ones that really happened to us.

We’re also going to do what we do best. We’re going to write. We’re going to craft quality stories in our chosen genres, publish them, and donate the proceeds from our stories, novels, and novellas dedicated to this cause to charities whose only goal is to help children touched by these horrors. And, God willing, give these children hope.

Someone’s got to take the first step, though. And today, here, and now, that someone is me.

I’m J.S. Wayne.

Will you join us?

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