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Today I'm once again participating in the TCWT blog chain for the month. (Check out last month's blog chain here!) The prompt for December is "What works of fiction have taught you by example and what did they teach you?"
*Contains discussion of abusive behavior*
This one is a difficult topic for me, to be honest. Stories and the way they've affected me has always been very personal and, though I'm open about my life and the challenges I face, some things are just not easy to share. But for this, I'll tell you that I have been a victim of abuse. I'm not going to say in what context, but for the purposes of this topic, it's important to disclose.
See, the first thing I think of when I look at this TCWT prompt is the book that made me realize what situation I was in. I can't remember the title anymore, but it was a middle grade novel, or possibly young YA, in which a girl uncovers a cycle of abuse through her family that explains so much about why her family is the way it is. (If someone can find what book this is, that would be great, because I've been Googling with no success.)
The abuse I've experienced is primarily emotional--cruel language, emotional neglect, and manipulation--a kind of abuse often ignored by society. In comparison to the outright and visible cruelty of physical and sexual violence, how could that even register? But when people ask the all-too-common question, "Why don't they just leave?", they reveal their ignorance about emotional abuse. Every kind of abuse is accompanied by emotional abuse and that abuse is the kind that, statistically, leaves the deepest marks on the human soul. Why don't abuse victims leave? Because their abuser terrifies them, puts them down, and manipulates them into submission, all without even having to use violence. Emotional abuse leads to other forms of abuse. Emotional abuse destroys lives.
But at the time I read this book I didn't know anything about that. Reading it opened up a world of understanding to me--because primarily, this book focused on emotional abuse. I'd never heard of that before; I hadn't realized that the pattern of behavior being used against me was abusive. But I recognized myself in that book and in that moment, I began to see the truth.
I've read thousands of books in my life and so many of them have had an effect on me. Through fictional worlds and lives, I've learned, I've grown, I've expanded my empathetic ability, I've connected to other humans, I've had a place to turn to in order to make it through the hardest times of my life, and I've become a writer myself. I've learned lots of words that I can't pronounce for the life of me because I've only ever read them, not heard them. I could tell you a hundred other stories about how books have changed and saved me. But no one book has had the effect on me that this book, the title of which I can't even remember, did. That book saved my life because it lit a spark in my mind that allowed me, in future years, to separate from my abuser, to start defending myself, and to become the advocate for social justice that I am now.
Today, I still seek out books that have this kind of content because every time I do, I see hope. I see a chance for other people to realize what's happening. I see hope for me avoiding this kind of situation in the future, too. I can use books like these to explain to people what's happening, to gain a better understanding of the psychological and sociological concepts behind abuse and prejudice, and to further social justice. I try to write books that address these issues as well, because I could be the person who saves a life. And so could you, with your words.
Fiction isn't in any way useless or meaningless. It doesn't just exist for entertainment. These things change and save lives. I can testify to that.
Thanks for reading, guys. Our next blog post will be about finding good counselors. I hope to see you there!
Here's the rest of the TCWT blog chain if you're interested:
5th – http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/
6th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/
7th – https://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/
8th – http://introspectioncreative.wordpress.com/
9th – http://semilegacy.blogspot.com/
10th – My blog, today
11th – http://whileishouldbedoingprecal.weebly.com/
12th – http://randomosityofeden.wordpress.com/
13th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/
14th – http://www.alwaysopinionatedgirl.wordpress.com/
15th – http://www.juliathewritergirl.wordpress.com/
16th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/
17th – http://horsfeathersblog.wordpress.com/
18th – http://unironicallyexcited.wordpress.com/
19th – http://theboardingblogger.wordpress.com/
20th – http://stayandwatchthestars.wordpress.com/
21st – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/
22nd – http://fantasiesofapockethuman.blogspot.com/
23rd – http://lilyjenness.blogspot.com/
24th – http://oliviarivers.wordpress.com/
25th – No post
26th – http://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/
27th – http://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/
28th – http://www.pamelanicolewrites.com
29th – http://jasperlindell.blogspot.com.au/
30th – http://maralaurey.wordpress.com/ and http://theedfiles.blogspot.com/
31st – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/
Images via northernsun.com and thesundayleader.lk
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