I’m sure, by now, that many of you are wondering why I would expose my deepest pains and darkest nightmares in such a public way.
It’s not easy.
It’s not easy to have to remember those nightmares, or to feel that pain. But, even more, it’s not easy being an adult, and reflecting on my early childhood with the knowledge I have today about rape and rapists. At the time, I felt dirty and bad, ugly and horrible. I truly believed it was my fault, that I had done something wrong.
Today, I know that there’s no such thing as a one-time rapist. Rape is about power and control, about inflicting pain. I know I wasn’t to blame for what happened to me. It took someone loving me, without condition or reservation, for me to understand that. But I still can’t help thinking about all the other little girls that boy who raped me might have already raped by that time, or might have gone on to rape, afterward. How many girls like me might I have spared that pain, shame, and misery if I had been stronger, less frightened, or felt more sure of my family’s love and support.
I never knew his name, or anything about him, so I can’t even be sure he’s ever been caught, ever been held accountable for any of the crimes I either know he’s committed, or am pretty sure he’s since committed. That’s a fear I have to live with every day of my life — that someday, I might come face-to-face with him. Maybe I’d recognize him, or maybe he’s changed so much I wouldn’t even know him to see him. The idea, quite frankly, makes me want to vomit, every time it crosses my mind.
I’ve devoted a substantial part of my life, both as a writer and a counselor, to helping other victims of abuse. And not just girls. There are a large number of boys who are also victims of rape. Unfortunately, our society makes it even more difficult for them to come forward than girls, because of a misguided belief that males cannot be victims of sexual crimes.
So, while revealing the past I’ve kept so closely guarded all these years isn’t easy, I do believe it to be necessary. At the very least, it will help you, as a reader of my work, to understand what drives and fuels my darker brand of Romance. But it is my fervent hope that relating my experiences does more than that — that it inspires you to reach out and help someone who may be suffering as I have suffered for all these years. If my words move you to become that listening ear, that non-judgmental, loving compassion that shows a victim they are beautiful, clean, and worthy of love, then every word I’ve labored over in order to express the experiences that still plague my nightmares, still visit my daily life with fear, are worthwhile.