You didn’t really think it only happens to females, did you?
I won’t share the details and spoil my own novel, but I will say this: women haven’t cornered the market on #MeToo . Men—boys—get victimized also, yet males are socialized to stay stoic and silent. Sometimes even encouraged to rewrite their own histories, to claim that they liked the experience.
As in: “C’mon. You secretly wanted it—didn’t you?”
Where have we heard that before?
That’s right. It isn’t just gals who get their backs slapped by some no-minds who want them to believe they actually wanted their body to be used like a play toy. Seems to me we, as human beings, have such an inner moratorium on sexual violence that we seem to like to file through our internal Rolodex of reasons why rape can’t possibly be rape.
We’re cowards that way.
Sexual violation is an earthly version of Hell for its victims—all its victims—and not every man who’s been victimized turns out to be a studly alpha such as Christian Grey, the oversexed hero of 50 Shades of Grey, who continues to cast a wide-reaching (and profoundly perplexing) spell over a whole lot of women who otherwise call themselves ‘modern’ and ‘liberated’. <squints> My experience (not as a writer, but instead as a therapeutic counselor for more than 25 years), tells me that most male vics don’t turn out to be d*ck-swinging romeos. On the contrary—most become sullen and scared and uncertain how to build normal relationships. They are confused and alone and self-medicate because it hurts: so booze, dope, work, gambling, and—ironically, perversely—sometimes sex become their solace.
Then there are others, like my Within The Summit's Shadow hero, Andrew Gavin, who bury themselves in even more trauma by diving into first responder careers - because misery and turbulence are states of being they are used to.
A detective who’s seen a lot of gore and has secrets he just cannot tell, Andrew isn’t just prickly on the outside. Internally, he carries a companion only he can see: The Dead Boy, a sewer-made mass of shadows, a delusion that taunts him and goads him to just pick up his service revolver. To feel all of it…and then none of it, anymore.
Yesterday, I took a gamble and hopped onto Amazon to read any reviews that might have rolled in for Within The Summit's Shadow. I was moved by the assessment of one: "The author deals with some heavy subject matter that breaks your heart, but it isn’t just hinted at or skipped over, she regards it with grave deference and truth."
That was always my intention, and Andrew is my testimony to all the traumatic stories that have been my privilege (and heartache) to hear in all the years I’ve counseled people in the addictions & mental health clinic where I hang my professional hat. It is the experience of all of these people, who never chose to be broken—and who are both female and male—who not only inspired this novel, but also its dedication:
To anyone, anywhere, who has ever said “Don’t! Stop!”
#HimToo. It’s a thing.