When I first started writing Dream or Destiny, I had no idea domestic violence would play a part in the story. I knew very little about domestic violence, and I always had doubts when authors told me their characters took over the story from the writer. However, that is exactly what happened to me with Dream or Destiny.
When I started writing about David, the hero, he let me know he and his sister had been abused as children, and his sister had been abused as an adult. I tried to ignore him, but he wouldn’t let me. Finally I started doing online research about domestic violence. The statistics were shocking, but what impacted me the most were first-person accounts of abuse. I became passionate about raising awareness and saving women and children from violence at the hands of those who claim to love them.
I am pleased and humbled at what readers who are knowledgeable about abuse say about Dream or Destiny. The book has received a number of excellent reviews, but one of my favorites is from The Bluestocking Guide. Bluestocking is an advocate for victims of domestic violence, and she writes not only a great review of the book but also an excellent article on domestic violence.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. You can learn more about domestic violence by reading my series for Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2009. Please don’t be as oblivious to the problem as I was forty years ago. I was teaching a Sunday School class of third graders. I carried a cup of coffee into the classroom and sat it on the table beside me. One of my students came up to speak to me and knocked over the coffee, spilling it on my dress. I felt stupid for being so careless as to bring hot coffee into a room full of rambunctious kids, but I was surprised and puzzled at the boy’s response. He backed away from me, holding his hands up in front of him, saying over and over again, “I’m sorry. It was an accident.” I told him it was my fault for setting the coffee on the table and assured him I wasn’t burned.
Only years later when I became more aware of domestic violence did I realize that this child was most likely a victim of child abuse. He apologized over and over again to try to keep me from becoming angry, and he backed away and held his hands in front of him to protect himself—expecting me to strike out at him. I will always regret that I didn’t recognize the signs of abuse and do something to help him. I often wonder what happened to the boy. His father was in the military, and the family moved not long after the coffee incident.
Please learn the signs and what you can do to help. If you notice signs of abuse in a woman or a child, take action. You can save someone from severe physical and emotional trauma—and you might even save his or her life!