We Need To Talk About Rape
“We cannot have light without dark and we cannot have dark without light …We are no less important than the light for without us, the light would not know itself.” – Lucifer Morningstar, excerpt from THEY HIDE: Short Stories to Tell in the Dark coming April 7, 2023 from Brigids Gate Press
We Need To Talk About Rape
We need to talk about rape. As a girl growing up, the idea of someone violating my body in the most intimate way terrified me. I walked in constant fear of the boogeyman coming out from behind the bushes and dragging me back into the woods to violate that most private part of myself. It would keep me up at night. A tree branch scratching against my window was an intruder that wanted to have his way with me. The creak of the house settling was a rapist breaking in through the sliding glass door. I am still terrified of being raped in some dark alley or even within the sanctity of my own home. I do not believe I’m alone in this fear.
That is why I write about rape. It permeates through a number of my stories as my protagonists try to find a way out, to fight back, to stand in their power and not be defeated by one violent act. How can a rape survivor regain a sense of peace, of trust? How can they heal their soul, mind and emotions when their body is desecrated? How can they come out stronger for having survived such a cruel act?
Writing horror has always been a way for me to process my fears. I grew up in a haunted house where fear was a constant. I never felt safe. What haunted our home had a pervy vibe to it. When I was alone, in the bathroom, naked and vulnerable, this entity would breathe down the back of my neck. It felt palpable, tangible. I was powerless to do anything about it. So I write about those feelings, I create characters and situations that help me repurpose those terrors into something where I get to control the ending. I get to say what happens. I get to slay the demons.
A number of submission calls exclude any content having to deal with the topic of rape. I understand and applaud the need to create such boundaries. The last thing I want to do as a horror writer is trigger someone in a way that is harmful to them or sets them backwards in their own healing. That’s why having trigger warnings is so important. For me, I need to write about rape in order to work through this very real-world horror. Unlike vampires, werewolves and zombies – rapists are real. They are out there lurking in every corner, in every dark space and even in our own home.
According to the RAINN statistics, someone is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds in this country. Every. 68. Seconds. One out of every six women and one out of thirty-three men will have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime. And these are just the cases that are reported. Chances are you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault. It is pervasive in our culture and not talked about enough. It is still considered taboo for survivors to openly discuss their sexual assault. Half of the time survivors aren’t believed and most of the time their abusers get off scot-free.
Not talking about sexual assault, not sharing our stories, not processing our fears only keeps rape in the shadows where it maintains its power over us – where it has the potential to produce more monsters. As horror writers it is important for us to go into the dark places, to explore the shadows, to make a home in them so that we can better understand the very nature of what it means to be fearful, to be afraid, to be powerless so that we can find ways to overcome it, to not let it destroy us, and to find the strength to be empowered by it.
Who are we if not for the monsters that we keep?
They Hide: Short Stories to Tell in the Dark collects thirteen chilling tales that weave through the shadows, exploring the nature of fear, powerlessness, and control.
– A series of murders in a New England colony
– An untamed beast in pre-revolutionary France
– A mysterious stranger who invades 18th-century Ireland
– A traveling circus that takes more than the price of admission
– A gathering of the Dark, telling tales on the longest night of the year, and more.
Come play with vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, ghouls and the devil himself. Make sure you check under the bed and don’t turn out the lights.
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Francesca Maria writes dark fiction surrounded by cats near the Pacific Ocean. She is the creator of the Black Cat Chronicles, a true horror comic book series narrated by a mystical black cat. And her short story collection; They Hide: Short Stories to Tell in the Dark will be out in April 2023 from Brigid’s Gate Press. Her short stories and essays can be found in Crystal Lake Publishing’s Shallow Waters series and anthologies and Death’s Garden Revisited. You can find her at francescamaria.com and on Twitter @Writer_of_Weird.