#DV Awareness

I decided to make my post from October 2013 "sticky" here and also added to it. Links for help are at the bottom, but remember computer activity can be monitored so only visit websites from a safe computer! If you know of any other great links (especially links for other countries than USA-I don't have many of these) feel free to leave a comment so I can update the page. Please only leave links to get help for domestic violence and other types of abuse. Thanks!

October is a month very dear to my heart - Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Readers of all my books know that somehow, someway the message that abuse is not okay makes it into my stories. I don't go in with the intention of this being there, but it sneaks in. My first book, Always & Forever, was all about domestic violence. Lilly was abused most of her life before struggling to start over. In Crime & Passion it is revealed that my hero, Donovan, was abused as a child. In my latest release Love & Deception, my heroine was raped in her very first sexual encounter, something she doesn't truly face until late in the book. 

When I first started writing, I tried to write fantasy books, things that didn't really matter to me but were entertaining. I never could finish the stories. I've found that in order to really count to me, there has to be something about the story, some underlying importance. I'm not trying to be preachy. In fact, I've spent my entire life trying not to push my beliefs on others, not to be offensive in any possible way. The truth, however, is that I am disgusted by the abuse that goes on with people turning a blind eye to it. I do think it needs to be brought to public attention. It needs to be stopped.

We need to talk about domestic violence in society and not keep it a dirty little secret. My daughter is the strongest, smartest woman I know. It took a skilled manipulator only a few weeks to tear her self-esteem down and make her question whether she was actually going crazy. She stayed with him for quite some time, thinking she was somehow in the wrong because all the world saw was this super nice, great guy. He even had me fooled for a while. If she and I didn't spend so much time talking about healthy relationships versus abusers and how that kind of thing wasn't okay, she'd probably still be stuck in that situation, too afraid to speak out against it. Sometimes all it takes is a conversation and someone to believe. Let's get involved and help everyone we can. 

I read that 1 in 4 women are affected by domestic violence. Chances are, you know someone right now who is being abused if you yourself aren't. It's time to change those statistics. It's not only women being abused either. I know many men trapped in abusive relationships. It's almost more taboo for them to admit. We need to change this. No one should live in fear. We all deserve happiness. 

Since I didn't set out to write about a battered woman, I was surprised but very willing when Women Writers, Women['s] Books asked me to write an article in October 2012 on why I write about abuse and also a bit about the difficulties for other writers thinking of taking this standpoint. You can read that here -  http://booksbywomen.org/when-love-twists-into-abuse-by-chantel-rhondeau/

For the longest time I told myself it didn't matter when Always & Forever received bad reviews. People are allowed to not like my writing, after all. However, the tone of some of the reviews greatly disturbs me. Things people say, that has nothing to do with my writing ability or the story. They judged Lilly as weak because she "let" herself be trapped in abuse, because she was a victim for so long. Let herself. Right. Because it's so easy to escape someone who routinely beats you and threatens to do worse if you leave. Apparently, she's weak because abusers often isolate their victims and she had no support system to help her. She's weak because she feared her abuser would kill her family if she didn't do what he demanded.

It's that kind of thinking that gives the abusers power. The victim is NOT at fault! Lilly is just a fictional character, true, but when someone says she's too stupid to live because she believed her abuser would kill her the next time if she tried to run again...those kinds of comments sicken me. 

I've been thinking about it a lot this month. Why? Why am I driven to write these things? I know it opens the doors for attacks from people. When Donovan cried, I've gotten a lot of flack for that. Men shouldn't cry, no matter what they've been through. Granted, maybe Donovan cried a little too much, and because of those negative comments I did make Nick more macho, but I hope people weren't judging Donovan as being weak because he finally admitted the abuse he had suffered as a child and cried about it. 

The why is pretty easy though. Awareness. Understanding. It's not the only thing my books are about, but it is something important to me. I want to empower the abused, help those lucky people untouched by abuse to find some understanding, and express my disgust with the abusers. No one should have to suffer in silence. Abusers need to get help, true, but the victims need help first, so they don't become a statistic. 

If you are being abused, it is not your fault. You don't deserve it. You didn't ask for it. You deserve a better life. 

Links: (remember that computer activity can be traced so only visit sites from a safe computer)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.ncadv.org/ 

National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-422-4453. Visit http://www.everychildmatters.org for more information on things you can do to get involved and help in the fight against child abuse.

Resources for rape victims: RAINN’s website - http://www.rainn.org/ They also have international links if you are outside the United States of America. For resources in other countries visit here - http://www.rainn.org/get-help/sexual-assault-and-rape-international-resources

Get involved - hold a phone drive or donate a phone through Project Hope with Verizon Wireless:

Live with joy, love, and happiness!
~~ Chantel ~~

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