Karen E. Taylor is a talented writer and a friend. When she wanted to participate in the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign but didn’t have a platform, I volunteered this space. This is her story.
I wrote a story called Mexican Moon once. A lot of people really liked it, and it even received a nomination for a Bram Stoker award. I had no idea why. The story of the relationship between a sentient robot and the scientist who made her, it seemed to me to be nothing more than a toss away. And although it took me forever to finish it, I didn’t give much thought to the ending or what it might mean. A story is sometimes just a story, right?
As it turns out, nothing could be further from the truth. I used to go to a lot of conventions and I would read this story since it fit so many different genres. During its last reading, I finally got it. And I started to cry, when I realized what it meant. How it was really a call for help from the bottom of the well by an emotionally and physically abused person. I can’t read it out loud anymore. Sometimes I cry just thinking about it. The realization floored me, because I never once expected it.
The after-effect of domestic abuse can be like that. It can sneak up on you after months or years and all of a sudden you’re back in that relationship — back into the fears, the flinching at sudden movements, the wincing at angry words, the constant apologizing for things you could never possibly control. Suddenly you feel worthless, helpless, and hopeless, for no good reason other than that was what you used to feel, what you were taught to believe by the abuser(s) in your life — that everything bad that happens is exactly what you deserve.
Except, dammit, you don’t! It takes so very long to recognize abuse sometimes, and it even takes longer to get out from under that abuse. There are always reasons why you shouldn’t leave, reasons why you can’t. Numerous though they are, you can’t let those reasons stop you. The sooner you get out of an abusive relationship, the sooner you can start to heal. And though that healing may seem like it takes forever, eventually there will come a day when you know that you have survived. That you’ve come out from under in one piece, not necessarily without scars or damage, but in one piece. You’ll need support for getting out of an abusive relationship and you’ll need support afterwards, to treat the damage. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.
You don’t heal overnight. I’ve been out of my abusive relationship for over 40 years, and I still have days when I wince and cringe, days when I feel worthless. But it really does get better and easier with time. Turn your back on the abuse and the past and allow yourself that time.
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/