Child Abuse… why?

This discussion links with the Indie eBook special review available HERE 

Feel free to join the discussion/comments on this site, that site or both sites!

Confronted with stories such as Girls and Boys come out to Play and The Price of Fame, (both published in the wake of the Jimmy Savile ‘scandal’ by Kirsty Eccles) I imagine people in their droves responding: I don’t want to read about child abuse. Wouldn’t it just be rubbernecking? Wouldn’t it suggest I have an unnatural interest in the subject?

I’m sure there are a hundred reasons why people don’t want to read stories about child abuse. I myself find the concept of ‘misery memoir’ quite distasteful BUT equally, when ‘scandals’ such as the Jimmy Savile one come out I begin to think that there is so much sex abuse going on all over the place that we need to bring it out of the closet and TALK about it. And one way of doing this is to WRITE about it and one way of writing about it is to write it as FICTION.

Why choose fiction? Perhaps  the story is too painful for the writer to admit? It may be a ‘survivor’ story.  A person trying to make sense out of their personal experience but without the courage to stand up and bare all.  This in itself may have a therapeutic value for the writer who has not  been ‘believed’ in ‘real’ life.  But fiction has to do something for the reader too doesn’t it?

So let’s remember, writers have skills and can use these skills in a number of ways.  For me, one strength of fiction is that it can  take the personal and universalise it. It can show themes and patterns and structures and in doing so create a narrative which is ‘fiction’ but in fact represents more than ‘one experience’ and in doing so asks questions or shows aspects of a society as a whole. Because those ‘personal’ stories can get lost as ONE PERSON’S experience. Fiction can provide a way for us to appreciate that a character may represent a whole bunch of people. That’s what the Price of Fame is about – showing people that there are many, many victims of child sex abuse, not just by one celebrity, not just by many celebrities, but by a whole range of people who are ‘in power’ however that ‘power’ is defined. It doesn’t have to be defined by conventional ‘celebrity’ it is insidious and pervasive within the ordinary domestic experience of many many people.  And that’s something that is unpleasant to think about. Unpleasant to read.  But isn’t it time we all grew up a bit and took a close look at some of the unpleasant things we usually try to avoid.

Of course you wouldn’t read child abuse fiction for escapism. This doesn’t mean you are reading it for titillation. But I suggest the reason to read either fiction or fact about child sex abuse is either that you need to learn about it because you HAVEN’T been abused and so don’t really understand the complexity of the emotions which are involved and the life changing damaging consequences of such abuse, or because you HAVE been abused and you want some validation or a feeling that you are not alone and most importantly not to BLAME for the abuse you suffered.

You don’t have to dig very far to find fiction which deals with child sex abuse. We do need to read about it. We need to think about it. We need to talk about it and we need to work out how to DO something about it!

I asked a number of writers who have reviewed work on IEBR to give some insight into why Child Abuse featured in their work.  For their responses and the WHOLE ARTICLE click HERE after 10am

Please note that Kirsty Eccles short story GIRLS AND BOYS COME OUT TO PLAY and the longer story THE PRICE OF FAME are both available FREE today.  (Girls and Boys is free in perpetuity, but The Price of Fame is on a special free offer for 7th November)

The Price of Fame is available for Kindle at Amazon UK and Amazon US

Girls and Boys Come out to Play is available on McStorytellers site. 

About callyphillips

One Response to Child Abuse… why?

  1. It’s a difficult theme. The first ‘draft’ of Ice Dancing was a play called The Locker Room which was praised by never produced. I think the gatekeepers found it uncomfortable and thought it might be offputting for audiences, which reflects exactly this debate. Also the sense that in writing a character their secrets, or the things they have buried inside them emerge rather than being imposed from the outside. I genuinely did not know what it was that Finn, in Bird of Passage ‘couldn’t remember’ and had to write the novel to find out. Successive traumatic experiences had damaged him to the extent that he had deliberately forgotten some momentous event, which – or so it felt to me, as the writer – struggled to get out, to be told. By him and by me. I read a lot around and about the subject though and became increasingly distressed by it. It became particularly clear to me that there was a hideous correlation between the preponderance of Irish labourers of a certain age with alcohol problems in the UK and the Irish industrial schools in which they had been ‘imprisoned’ and subject to physical and sexual abuse, often for nothing more culpable than an accident of birth or the kind of family problems which might result from bereavement or poverty. It still horrifies me.

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