Monday, March 30, 2015

Rape is Not Entertainment

[Do I even have to say "trigger warnings ahead"?]

I have some odd followers on Twitter.

I have members of the Catholic Writer's Guild who follow me, because I'm a Catholic writer.

I have conservatives and libertarians follow me, because I'm politically ... complicated.

 I've been re-tweeted by Larry Correia, lord of gun porn.
Sarah Garlits

And then there's Sarah Garlits, aka Sarah Blake. Who's more ... porn porn. Sort of.

For those of you who don't know Madam Garlits, yes, she is an adult entertainer. No, I don't mean porn actress ... she used to be, but now does burlesque variants. It's complicated.

And I'm getting off topic...

How we tripped over each other on Twitter, I don't recall. I don't know why she follows me, but I find her interesting. And if you're new here, for me, "interesting" is a compliment.

She is also a rape survivor.

Garlits maintains a blog for abuse survivors, and she's very, very well-adjusted, considering her back story. She documents her day-to-day recovery, researches the topic thoroughly, and it's always an interesting day when someone on the internet teaches me something.

I was going through her blog a while back, and came across the following article, dealing with rape, entitled "Be Yourself."  This post is basically a letter to fellow survivors. She makes some good, solid points. I will only offer a comment here or there, but I don't want to break up the flow.
What if I told you that you are not broken…that you don’t have something wrong with you, you don’t need to be fixed. You were hurt. Someone hurt you. They need to be fixed. You are injured and will heal if you let yourself. Like a tree that’s faced the harsh winds, you will grow stronger and more resilient. You do not have to be happy all the time. It is ok that you feel the way you do. It is ok if you are not happy in this moment. You aren't doing life wrong because you don’t have a smile on your face 24-7 and dancing with bliss the whole time. You are a human being with such a beautiful wide range of emotions and feelings. Life is not good and bad, black and white, on or off, for then we would never see the sunsets.
You can see why I find her interesting. I'm not this eloquent. I usually save that for other people.

Though I will disagree on one or two points.
You don’t need to be fixed. You were hurt. Someone hurt you. They need to be fixed.
Were I writing this one, I would have to note that, yes, some people are broken by the experience. Fractured in more ways than physical. I'll explain below, but I've been found by my fair share of rape victims who need to be held together with duct tape. Their recovery looks more like a repair job requiring superglue.

This is not to say that she's wrong. Madam Garlits is being inspirational and uplifting. This is her goal, the point of her blog, and the point of the post.

Me?  I've been through too much of this to avoid some pessimism.

Also, "They need to be fixed" ... Can we all agree to modify the meaning of "fixed" for rapists should mean something like spayed or neutered? Or fixed with a tire iron to the head? Or knee caps? No, this is not a Christian / Catholic attitude to have. I have my reasons, and we'll get there, but one thing at a time. But for right now, I will simply say my attitude on rapists is WWJBD: What Would Jack Bauer Do?

Garlits continues.
My sadness is now beautiful in a way. It is so powerful of an emotion and one that I have avoided for years. I didn't want to change or grow because I thought I was coping just fine the way I was going. I didn't want to feel those other feelings. It was when I started to allow myself to really fully feel these emotions like sadness that I started to grow as a person.
Welcome to PTSD. Trauma seriously impacts emotional and psychological development. In her case, Madam Garlits is extremely fortunate. Her rape started very, very young. I think it's the youngest I'm aware of. And I know at least two people who were assaulted a few years later in life, and aren't holding up as well.
By feeling as though I would be punished for not having the proper emotion I was told to have, it made happiness all the more challenging. Happiness culture is bulls**t. Happiness is great but so are the other emotions. Life would be boring without them.
.... Why do I have to go to a blog by an adult entertainer to get a point made by GK Chesterton a hundred years ago in a Father Brown short story? Really, why?
I feel sad today. My heart hurts today. I feel it in the core of myself as my chest tightens. I was angry earlier, angry at people, angry at the world and what we've let things become. I’m angry for every abused person that is not getting the love and support they need to heal. I’m angry that people aren't taught how to treat those who are abused but instead call them liars and are taught to not trust them. 
I'd quibble this point, but I'm finding this exact thing more and more these days. Also, I'm seriously atypical.
I’m angry because our society is abusive and abuses those who go through horrific experiences as children and as adults. I’m angry because its not about teaching someone to be empathetic, I’m angry because this is not cultivated as children and on into adulthood. We all know what is right. We all know how to love, nurture and be there for others. Bulls**t that people get to play dumb or say its not their problem or get over it. We would if you would let us and many abuse[d] people, if left untreated, not cared about, or loved, can become more injured and commit violence themselves.
I'd only add that the violence is usually to themselves, and anyone who gets caught in the crossfire. If anyone offers a cliche that abusers are really all "just victims," I will refer you to the works of Andrews Vachss, a child protection consultant, children's attorney, and author who violently disagrees with you. (Also, see item #10 below).
Instead of trying to fix people or give advice, let them be themselves. It can be the greatest thing in the world to just be your self with another person and they not act like the world is over.
Also good advice.

Why do I bring this up? Seriously, this is a blog about writing anti-Dan Brown novels. Why discuss rape Because at the time Gerlits' article was posted, it dovetailed with my jury duty.

Wait! I have a point. Honest I do.

I have only been called for voir dire twice in my entire life. This is the part where the judge and lawyers ask questions, finding out if we can be impartial jurors.

Both times, I was called to look at a rape case.

The first time, it was statutory rape.  The defense lawyer asked if we had heard the term "13 going on 30."  Yes, she (a woman works best in these cases) had telegraphed that her entire case hinged on labeling a 13-year-old as a slut. Can't make this up.

The second time, it was someone accused of 12 cases of rape in the third degree, and multiple counts of incest.

Both times, I had to explain my "rape list."  No, I don't have a string of victims. I personally know nearly a dozen rape victims. I have mentioned this before.  These are people I have met and interacted with in real life. I am not counting a few scattered people on Facebook I've never run into before.

Don't believe me? Bear with me a moment, I'll try to keep it short. The names are replaced by various and sundry identifiers.  I will also bring up how I ran into them. How how they found me, I should say.
  1. NYRR -- ex#2.  Raped at 13, and then dated her rapist for the next six weeks. Became a bit of a nymphomaniac. She was difficult to date.  (I knew her because I dated her.)
  2. FDNY -- Male. A relative. Became the boyfriend of NYRR.  Wanted to maintain his virginity until he was married. NYRR drugged him because, well, she wasn't that interested in waiting.
  3. Emma -- Met via a dating sight. She traveled across country when she was 16 to meet her online friend. He locked her in a closet for periodic raping. When she was locked inside, he would sit outside the door smoking marijuana, coughing up a storm. Now, whenever anyone coughs around her, she has a panic attack.
  4. Sami -- Ex #3.  Molested by relatives when she was a pre-teen. Grew up to be bipolar, and largely unmedicated. Oddly aggressive sex drive. Also difficult to date.
  5. Margot St. Aubin -- I met her via a political writing group on Facebook. She's done her own blogs on this, so I'll let her tell this one.  It's a two parter, so be warned.
  6. AK-47 -- Ex #1.  This one is hard to figure out, because she was apparently raped by a priest, though she told me later she and her family are Wiccan, and always have been. Also mentioned sexual molestation by cousins. Bipolar. Also kinda nymphomaniac.  Screwed up in the head for a few reasons.
  7. M.A. -- We went to college together. Rape and gang-raped, with child as the product of one of them.
  8. SJU -- I don't remember the name of this one.  I met her online, then in person at college.  Very ... high strung. Nervous energy. Kinda odd. Hard to put my finger on this one.
  9. JD -- Met via dating site.  Another rape by relatives.
  10. LV -- Male. Ran into him at a political function.  Repeatedly assaulted by tag team of psychos.  One was a straight-up a sadist. Sodomy. Object rape with knife. When the duo was caught, the community closed ranks against the victims. Yup. The freaking psychos "were railroaded," despite confessions, multiple interviews where they admitted it, literal stacks of child porn, photographic evidence (souvenirs) of all of the victims. The rapist who was the most sadistic, that psycho was labeled as a victim, first a victim of the cops, then a victim of his own victims ... even though this one was the more evil. LV developed real multiple personalities, and I met six or eight of a dozen. ADHD. Suicide attempts. LV still suffers from panic attacks that look like grand-mal seizures. LV also has an issue with his memory -- he doesn't forget the trauma, mind you, he just forgets what he tells me. So I've listened to each and every tale of torture and rape about five times each. I'm reasonably certain I can reconstruct them all by heart.
  11. Claire -- My family provided shelter for her.  This was a tough one. I helped her type up her 20-page, single-spaced deposition about her rape from age 8-22.  Her parents had taken a loan from a Russian mobster. In turn, this bought him unrestricted, unlimited access to Claire. This decade of torture culminated in a kidnapping when she was 22. She was thrown into this psycho's personal torture chamber, doped with drugs to parazlye her without desensitizing her (Ketamine, maybe) and other drugs to force her to stay awake for nearly a week (we believe meth, perhaps), zapped with a cattle prod, run through the lower abdomen with something like a short sword (it went in one side, and came out the other, I saw the scars), and left on the side of the road to die. Obviously, she's very twitchy and nervous, with enough damage to her body that she had a heart attack at 20, and told to sign a DNR order.
The sad thing is, that back in 2010, I only knew seven rape victims.

Like I said, it's a list. I just have to avoid saying "rape list" in casual company. I get strange looks when I do.  I'm reasonably certain that's why I wasn't allowed on the last two juries.


Just a little goofy.
You may notice that "nymphomaniac" came up a time or two.  Why?

Well, in order to explain that, I should point out that, according to my research, that there are two reactions to rape. One reaction is a total / partial aversion to sex in general. The other is nymphomania, a defense mechanism developed along the lines of "if it's going to happen, enjoy it."

I've run into three nymphomaniacs, that I know of. I would like to hope that there are some people who didn't tell me every detail, but given what I have been told, I doubt it.

(No, I'm not counting Madam Garlits. I don't know her that well. She's more adorable and quirky than anything else. See some of her YouTube videos if you don't believe me).

A while ago, I talked about sexist books as bestsellers. Part of that involved 50 Shades of Grey, which, as madam Garlits can tell you, is a fundamental misunderstanding of BDSM (bondage, dominance, and sadomasochism) -- and if she can't, you can bet she has friends who can. Actual dominant / submissive culture revolves around consensual sex. Real BDSM is allowed by the Catholic church. If you want real BDSM, go read Ghost, vignette #2.  50 Shades is ... let's just say that they don't focus on consent all that much.

Part of that same post involved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  With a plot about underground sex clubs and a chapter-long rape scene....

No. I'm done. Right there.  A chapter-long rape scene? No.  Just no.  That is simply torture porn, and I don't mean BDSM -- that has rules, regs, codified limits, and, again, is purely consensual.

The chapter-long rape scene of Dragon Tattoo had been justified to me, by a woman, with the line, "but it was soooo well written..."

No. Period.

Rape is not entertaining.

Rape is not entertainment.

Rape is not something you arbitrarily throw in for character development in a book.

It is a freaking serious subject matter, it sucks, and it hurts to listen to. Hell, I'm probably a sociopath by now, because I've listened to so many hours upon hours of literal torture, I'm numb to it. If I wasn't numb before taking Claire's affidavit, I was after.

Go to Sarah Garlits' blog and go through some of the videos. Namely the abuse survivor vlogs labeled "good day" or "bad day."  The whipsaw mood swings she goes through? That's one of the healthier reactions I've ever seen. She talks about flashbacks, paranoia, memories that come out of the dark and ruin your whole week, and just getting through the day.

She also covers things I never understood in the first place, like the victims blaming themselves, or being blamed by other people.

(For the record, I still don't understand blaming the victim in this situation. My reaction to rape is simple: rapist suffers horribly, then is executed so he can't repent, and goes straight to Hell, the end. What am I missing? Victims are not perpetrators, they're victims. You help the victim, you punish the perp, we all go home for therapy and beers. The end. )

Heck, Madam Garlits is even becoming a victims advocate. This is the definition of handling it well, and being well-adjusted.  Or at least as well adjusted as any of us gets.

If you want to read a novel that handles rape well, in a somewhat realistic manner, look at Amy Lynn, which deals with the aftereffects of a rape in a very well-done, respectful manner, and it didn't need a single detail of the rape.

Anyway, this blog probably told you more about me than anyone really wants to know. But the next time I flip out because a rape victim is forced to pay child support, or self-defense is decried as "rape culture", or Rotherham, you know why.

It's why, should I ever have a daughter, she will be trained in self-defense from the time she can walk, with gun training from age 13-18, with a gun as a gift as soon as it's legal for her to carry.

Rape is not art, literature, or any variety of fun.

"Oh, but Declan, what about--"

I don't care what you're going to use as an example. I write to edify, to build up. There will never be a graphic rape in any of my books. Ever. Period. The only reason there would be any graphic details is if I detail where the woman involved grabs the guy by the balls and starts pulling them off. The only reason I'm not going to say, here and now, that there will never be any rape victims / survivors in my books is because I have no idea where my books go when I start them, and some of my characters are out of my control.

Thus far, the closest I come to rape survivors are women who have had rape attempts made on them, and it has ended with the perpetrator in the hospital. Not only because that's how I roll, but because that's how I want it to go in real life -- the only rapes are attempted, and it's stopped by instant karma.

Hell, I can't even imagine my characters being successfully raped. Seriously, if you've read the books, that would be tough going. In A Pius Legacy, Manana Shushurin was threatened with rape (there hadn't even been an attempt) ... then she dislocated the man's arm, and broke his neck. She then proceeded to wipe out and each and every last one of the f***ers involved, with a little help from her friends.  With Codename: Winterborn, can anyone who read the book imagine Mandy being assaulted? She'd go full Keyser Soze on them -- feed them into a woodchipper, murder them, their families, and anyone who ever owed them money.

I'm sure I had another point to make when I started this, but right now, I'm so pissed off, I can't even think of it. Just ... check out Sarah's blog.  Or maybe Margot's.

If anyone else has anything else to add, go right ahead.

[I would like to thank Madam Garlits for the use of her blog in today's post.]


  1. To be honest, I come to this blog because of the breadth of topics you cover. So whatever you choose to cover is fine with me.

    Very good post, by the way.

  2. Well said. I would disagree with the bit about a tire iron,etc not being Christian or Catholic. Maybe today's modern Catholic Church but historically and in many Eastern Churches there probably won't be penance.

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