- Cherié Summers
With this hashtag trending, I noted many women strongly speaking out and letting people know their stories. I too, am among the many who have suffered sexual abuse in the past. I don't remember much about my real father who left when I was two, but I remember many things about my stepfather who ended up adopting me, and none are good. He molded me and shaped me into what he wanted, a child who would trade sexual favors for gifts, money....you name it. If I wanted it, it was mine, but with a steep price. I was three when my mother married him and didn't realize what was going on until I was 14 and heard the word incest for the first time. Immediately, I stopped him from committing further abuse, but still, he manipulated me in other ways. Controlled everything I wore...who my friends were...what I was allowed to do. If I threatened to tell it was always..."Tell your mom...you came to me...it's your fault...she will kick you out." There's not much about my ex husband I like, but I know he was sent to me from the universe to get me out of that situation. I left home at 19 and never looked back.
When writing my Love on Fire book series, I never purposely intended for sexual assault to be a part of it. It just happened. There is a scene in book 1 when Adrian loses his temper and goes after Melody with the intent of being her first lover. As much as she likes him, she is appalled by his behavior and fights back with ferocity. Adrian regrets his attack, the fact that his anger makes him lash out at the girl he's falling in love with. Even so, I let him off the hook pretty easy. The fact that Melody is rescued before any rape occurs gave Adrian an easy out. No police report made. Just an apology. All is forgiven. In time the reader will understand the emotional trauma Adrian suffered as a child that makes him so violently angry at times.
In book 2, Melody again faces sexual assault from a trusted friend. And a possible pregnancy as the result. The whole story leading up to the rape is very sad and tragic. The aftermath even more so. Again, my readers may think I let the perpetrator off the hook too easily as far as a police report being made. But in the big scheme of the series, this important event will come back to haunt both Melody and the band. However, in the meantime, they decide it will be a secret kept among themselves.
In book 3, again Melody is attacked and this time she's no wimp. She will fight tooth and nail to not be a victim again. And luckily help is nearby. She will go through more mental trauma as she recovers from it.
Now at this point, my readers may be like "Enough with these assaults on Melody." I completely understand. But there is a method to this madness which the reader will discover in book 4. Although it focuses on Kat and his new girlfriend, Melody will be greatly affected by what transpires as a result of Kat's new relationship. Those secrets the band has closely guarded may be revealed to the world by my antagonist...and it's in that moment when Melody must face the past and move forward to help other women who have suffered the same fate. A touching meeting with an old rival makes her even more determined to make a different in the lives of sexual assault victims.
My readers will breathe a sigh of relief and feel a bit of triumph when all the pieces finally find their way together.
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