Sunday, September 19, 2010

Speak Loudly

Wesley Scroggins, an associate professor of management at Missouri State University, recently wrote an opinion piece in the News-Leader of Springfield, MO in which he labeled Laurie Halsey Anderson's Young Adult book SPEAK as a filthy, immoral, and soft-porn novel because the subject matter involves rape.

I read Ms. Anderson's book a few years ago and found it a compelling, honest look at the problem of rape for young women.

As I write this blog, writers and readers are decrying Scroggins for his attempt to censor SPEAK. I wonder how Mr. Scroggins would feel if a young woman in his family was victimized. Is the man so ignorant that he doesn't realize the horrifying statistics? RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network reports 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.

And those statistics reflect only what is reported.

Shoving the problem under the rug will not stop the abuse. And it most certainly will not help the victims who suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome.

Frankly, I'm appalled that such ignorance still exists. Many years ago when I was a freshman at the University of Texas, our dorm resident assistants counseled us, guys and girls alike (we lived in a co-ed dorm), about rape. To give you an idea of how long ago this occurred, let me say I have a grown son and a daughter in college.

A writer has spoken out about her own horrifying experience. You can read her brave story here: The Last Word.

Do you know someone who has been a victim of rape? I wish I could say no, but I do. Their stories will always haunt me.

Laurie Halsey Anderson's novel SPEAK ought to be required reading in high school classes everywhere. Teens need to be aware and informed. Parents should use the book as a springboard for discussions with their teens. Information is power. Ignorance leaves our teens vulnerable to peer pressure and violence. They need to know they can turn to their parents for help.

Most of all, young women who have suffered from abuse need support. They need to know that they are worthy.

In my book HOW TO MARRY A DUKE, the heroine confesses a traumatic experience to the hero. I hope young women who have suffered bad experiences at the hands of scoundrels will read what my hero Tristan says to Tessa, my heroine. As a writer, I sometimes feel as if my characters take over. And in this case, Tristan's words brought tears to my eyes.  Because he recognized that Tessa's past did not define the woman she is now.

The past is past. All that matters is who you are now and what you contribute to the world. Lift up your hearts. Extend a helping hand. Give encouragement to those in need. Be a true friend. And love your family.

May the Magic Romance Fairies be with you.



Elyssa Papa said...

Such a powerful blog, Vicky. And I completely agree with everything you've written. It's important for books like SPEAK and others to be taught in schools. You never know when a book will empower a student to come forward and "speak" about their experiences.

Laurie London said...

Great post, Vicky! I followed the Twitter conversation all day today and was moved by the voices of so many people on this issue. After reading CJ's story, I was compelled to tell my own.

Vicky said...

Elyssa, I think this issue hits home for many of us. And the effects reach beyond victims. I'll never forget when my son came to me in tears in high school because one of his friends, a girl he'd known for years, got brutally raped at a party. He was so upset. Her parents came from a different country with a strict culture. Once when she came to our house, I called her parents to reassure them I was there to supervise the teens. As a teacher, you can imagine how hard it was for me to counsel my son. He wanted to beat the guy up, but the girl never revealed the creep's identity. It was the hardest discussion I've ever had as a parent. I hugged him so hard. Many years later, he's very successful and married to a beautiful and wonderful young woman. I'm so proud of him and wish the world was filled with young men who are as wonderfulf as he is.

Christine said...

I also blogged about this, Vicky. It's vital that we keep our freedom of speech right protected. Thank for sharing!!