Note: The following blog post contains information contained in the plot of Death Vetoes the Chairman.
A year ago, I started writing my 7th Lizzie Crenshaw book, Death Vetoes the Chairman. I never intended for it to take the serious turn that it did. My stories are usually filled with lighthearted humor, and that is still there in this book. But when I sent the first few chapters to my beta readers, one of them sent me a message: “I’ve been through this.” After she told me what had happened to her, I realized that this was a story that needed to be told. I asked for her advice every step of the way, so all of Lizzie’s reactions, as well as those of her family and friends, are genuine. To be clear, I’ve never been through anything like this myself. My parents had a wonderful, loving marriage for almost forty years, and my husband and I have been happily married for almost thirteen years. So sexual harassment and sexual assault are things that I know very little about.
Once I realized the direction my story was taking, I got very nervous. I wasn’t sure how people would react to one of my books tackling a serious social topic. But it is one that needs to be talked about, be it through a fictional character, or by articles like this. Men, women and children find themselves in situations like this every hour of every day. And it’s not going to go away. We can sit and pretend that it’s not there, bury our heads in the sand and say, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Or we can try to help.
Be a volunteer. I did ask my friend if she had thought about starting a Prayer Shawl Ministry for her shelter, and she told me her church already does this, and provides shawls for the women who come to the shelter. If you can knit and/or crochet, then you can take part in this ministry.
If you know a friend who is in a dangerous situation, provide them a safe place if you can. Don’t push them to leave on your time schedule. Leaving is a difficult decision, and it may take several times of them leaving and going back, before they leave for good. If the abuser has control of the finances, then they will have to find the resources to help them. Mostly, they need love and support, not questions and condemnation.
Above all else, please remember that while you may feel like a victim for a while once you do get out, YOU ARE A SURVIVOR. There is help. When you’re ready, make sure that you are in a safe location before reaching out. Erase all the phone numbers from your call history, and clean your browsing history on your computer, so that your partner won’t know what you are doing.
Just reach out. There will be someone there to grab your hand and help you through the storm.
Throughout this month, I’ll be talking about this topic with Fiona Quinn and Christina Freeburn. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for links to these posts.