Another Light Missing…

When Courtney Summers’ latest, All The Rage, was announced, there were people who actually said, “Well, why do we need another book about rape?  Didn’t Speak cover it?”

While the simplest answer should be obvious — “Surprise, we can have multiple books on a topic!” — there are many reasons why authors will continue to explore difficult subjects like rape culture and domestic violence.  Maybe, as with Summers, they have a new approach that further reveals the darkness in society.  Or maybe it’s because there is no indication that the number of sexual assaults is on a dramatic decline.

When I wrote Change of Season, it was for many reasons, but one of them was to pay tribute to a beautiful soul, a woman whose life ended far too soon.   A light missing from the sky.  The missing teens of Change of Season are written as a sort of kaleidoscopic spin on the many ways a young woman can end up like her.  Autumn herself is yet another.

Recently, we lost another light.  The story of Desiree Gallagher has haunted me since my sister, a friend of hers, shared it with me.  A kind young woman pursuing her academic dreams, she met a man, as so many people do every weekend.  That meeting would end with her plunging off his balcony, battered and beaten beyond recognition.  Miraculously surviving, Desiree was left blind, robbed of short-term memory and unable to walk.

Two years later, Desiree is no longer with us.  But her wish to help other women by sharing her story has brought me here, to share it with you.

I wish hers was the only story to tell, that it was an anomaly, that the world is a safe and beautiful place for women.  But hearing a story like hers can move another to be careful.  Hearing it may inspire another to choose a future career that helps survivors of violence.  Another may find strength to leave a bad relationship, or help her spot the signs a friend may be in danger.  Still others may sit back and think, “Enough is enough.  How can we, as a society, better protect each other?”

Each ripple in the stream matters.  Each carries a promise with it.

This is why authors are still exploring these topics.  Because the status quo is still a world where abuse, rape and violence happen.  Because each new ripple may just be the one that makes a change.  Because our collective words may just be the promise that gets someone through today, this hour, even just a minute.

Each book is a lit candle, in memory of the reader who knows its truth personally.  It’s how we keep the lights from going out altogether.


Shattering Silence On Rape Culture: Why We Need Courtney Summers’ All The Rage

Caution:  this post includes a discussion of rape myths and sexual assault that may trigger.  Please be safe.  Links within are more detailed and triggering.

I like to think that life finds a way to put us precisely where we need to be at the moment we need to be there.

This isn’t to say that it’s all written in the proverbial stars.  I’m a huge believer in choice, in the ability to take the cards we’re dealt and play them any way we see fit.  We can bluff our way through.  We can fight to win against the odds.  We can fold and sit the hand out. But sometimes, the forks in the road where we can choose those options seem unusually timed.

A few weeks ago, I happened to be discussing the Dalhousie scandal with my husband.  Something he said drifted along the lines of a school not being willing to protect the women who were harmed by the events, but to shield the men instead.  This jarred a memory for me of my second year in university, which I shared with him.  I was taking Crime & Deviance, and recalled a lecture where the professor brought up rape. I could still hear the professor going on about women ruining the lives of “good college boys” and “leading men on”.  I could remember a male student (who gave me a brief moment of faith in humanity) chiming in and saying, “Well, yeah, but no means no, right?”

“How cold is your shower?” the professor sneered.

Three months later, I was sexually assaulted in my dorm room.  That lecture is why I’ve been silent, save for a few trusted people.

Back to that well-time crossroads:  perhaps ten minutes later, I saw an open call from Ciara at Lost At Midnight, seeking people’s comments on why they were eager to read Courtney Summers‘ forthcoming book, All The Rage.  I have been waiting impatiently for this book since its announcement.  I have so much respect for what Courtney does as an author, and as a bonus, she’s a superstar I’ve regularly exchanged pleasantries and fandom banter with on Twitter.  I nudged Ciara impulsively, asked about full-length guest posts. No promises were made.

In my head, the opening of All The Rage haunted me, running in parallel with memories of my own. Just write, I told myself. See what comes out. When I was done, my hands were shaking and I felt sick. I momentarily considered hitting delete.

I had a choice, like Romy. I chose to finally break my silence, once and for all.

It wasn’t just about the actual events of that January day.  I think, for me, that wasn’t enough to drive me to speak. It was about that lecture. It was about how I paid the price for challenging rape culture back then, and how survivors are still paying the price now.

My guest post at Lost At Midnight explores how rape culture silenced me to where I didn’t even feel I could ask for a dorm room change. I stayed in the same room for the next 18 months. I could not ask for help until my GPA fell and my dreams of graduate school imploded. Read with care (and I hope you do choose to read it).

Sadly, mine isn’t the only story I’ve been reading today:

For all those who aren’t ready to break silence, or may never be, my heart is with you. For those who can speak and choose to, I am grateful for your voices.

All The Rage comes out April 14th, 2015. You can read the first few chapters right now on Wattpad and learn more at Courtney’s website.