It has been hard to ignore the responses to the WSJ article that was published recently.  Not only have readers, bloggers, and twitterers (is this even a word??) voiced their opinion, so have many authors.  Cheryl Rainfield is one of those many authors making their voice heard.  I am very honored to welcome Cheryl with us today – she is an amazing author who tred the dangerous waters of writing on a subject that is considered very “taboo” – and has been successful in more ways than one.  Her literature has touched many and has brought awareness to something that is ‘ignored’.

I want to take a bow and welcome Cheryl Rainfield
I am used to people trying to silence me. My abusers did that frequently–threatening to kill me if I talked about the abuse, telling me that no one would believe me or they would think I was crazy. They reinforced those messages with torture, to make them have a long-term, deep impact.
So the WSJ article by Meghan Cox Gurdon attacking Scars and other YA books (http://ht.ly/5cGyz ), although very different than my abuse, felt familiar. It felt like a message to shut up–and also that I was hurting others. It also felt like it was warning people away from my truths and my encouraging healing–something my abusers also did. I went into a lot of old pain with the WSJ article, and some new.
I wrote Scars from pain. I’m an incest and ritual abuse survivor, I’m queer, and I used self-harm to cope with the abuse. I put all of that into Scars, showing what self-harm is like from an insider perspective, and encouraging healing. I think emotional truths deepen a story and make it more powerful, and I wanted to reach people. I wanted people who’ve used self-harm, are queer, or are incest survivors to know that they’re not alone and healing can happen, and I wanted people who didn’t have those experiences to come away with more compassion.
And I’ve succeeded. I get reader letters every week telling me how Scars has helped them to stop cutting, or understand why people cut, to get therapy, or to talk about self-harm, being queer, or being a survivor when they never could before. They tell me that they don’t feel alone any more, and that they feel like someone understands them for the first time in their life. I know Scars is putting healing into the world. But it’s easy for them to forget when I’m criticized or attacked; all the old abuse messages come flooding back.
But people started speaking out in support of me and Scars on Twitter, and then YA author Maureen Johnson started the #YAsaves movement on Twitter, asking us: “Did YA help you? Let the world know how! Tell your story with a #YAsaves tag. And copy the @wsj for good measure”. There was a huge influx of support for me and Scars. And so many moving tweets about the healing power of YA lit, or how YA lit helped people. I found myself moving into empowerment and strength–able to speak out and know I’d be heard, and so I wrote a post in response. http://wp.me/p1yz4O-Um I was suddenly not alone in my pain any more, as I’d been most of my life, but surrounded by a circle of caring and passionate YA readers and writers. What a good feeling!
Take Cheryl’s message to heart and share your stories about how YA has saved on Twitter!!
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