Writing about sexual assault? Watch

ImAGiraffe
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So currently I'm writing a book (or that's the aim at least), and the sexual assault of one of the characters is pretty central to both her character and the plot. I'm wondering how people who have faced something like this would feel about someone who hasn't faced this writing about it? Is this wrong? I obviously don't intend on mocking it and am taking it seriously, and in doing my research I have been trying to get an idea of the most accurate representation of reactions and the whole atmosphere of the situation. Any feedback on this topic would be appreciated!
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Surnia
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It happens all the time that authors and scriptwriters write about sensitive situations they have never experienced; equally, not every tv and film cast member who appears in a production will have had first hand knowledge. People will do the same as you and base it on research, and that's all you need to respond with if anyone actually goes to the trouble of querying your background and asking if it's something you went through.
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Joleee
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readers wouldn't know your personal history anyway, would they?

only thing they might be turned off by is if you wrote something unrealistic, then they might be annoyed you haven't done your research and will question everything you write thereafter. how have you conducted your research btw?
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ImAGiraffe
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(Original post by Joleee)
readers wouldn't know your personal history anyway, would they?

only thing they might be turned off by is if you wrote something unrealistic, then they might be annoyed you haven't done your research and will question everything you write thereafter. how have you conducted your research btw?
Well I’m trying to split my research into statistical and personal stories. For statistical I’m looking into things such as the common sentencing for offenders and the conviction rate of sexual assault based on country which may be affected by the areas culture, which I’m trying to use to add some realistic effect to the reaction of the messed up political system I’m writing, which will hopefully allow people to see some flaws in our own reality shine through. As for personal stories I’ve found blog posts from victims to be incredibly helpful to have some insight into a first person encounter, it’s easy to assume how someone will react but some will surprise you so I’m trying to focus on those ones to bring attention to how such an incident will make some react in unexpected ways which may not be understandable to those around them. Also some of my friends have sadly faced this and are open with discussing how they would like to see this portrayed, which has varied from focusing on the lack of voice to allowing yourself to thrive after. I really just want to do justice to those who I would be representing and know that they’re being heard rather than coming across as trying to belittle it as a literary feature, which I feel does happen quite often unfortunately
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Random_Student
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(Original post by ImAGiraffe)
So currently I'm writing a book (or that's the aim at least), and the sexual assault of one of the characters is pretty central to both her character and the plot. I'm wondering how people who have faced something like this would feel about someone who hasn't faced this writing about it? Is this wrong? I obviously don't intend on mocking it and am taking it seriously, and in doing my research I have been trying to get an idea of the most accurate representation of reactions and the whole atmosphere of the situation. Any feedback on this topic would be appreciated!
I’d suggest writing it based on your research then maybe sharing with someone who you know has gone through similar things. But yea like someone said, don’t make it unrealistic that it triggers people who have experienced such things. All the best with your book
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Joleee
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if it helps, i can tell you that prevalent side-effects of sexual assault are shame and fear of not being believed (which is why most victims don't come forward). very few reports actually make it to trial and even fewer get prosecuted. has nothing to do with the attractiveness of the victim but vulnerability and opportunity (which is why most perpetrators are someone the victim knows). i understand wanting to add depth to your characters, but at the same time i wouldn't try to make it overly complected and i wouldn't negate your own imagination. just because you haven't experienced it yourself, i'm sure you can imagine the pain of. good luck with your writing. i'm intrigued.

edit: sorry i should've quoted you.
Last edited by Joleee; 2 weeks ago
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sinfonietta
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It depends how you handle it. When I feel it is handled badly it can piss me off to the point I abandon the book. When it's done well it doesn't bother me in the slightest. I don't care if the author has a history of it or not.

For context I've been sexually assaulted both as a child and as an adult.
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ImAGiraffe
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(Original post by sinfonietta)
It depends how you handle it. When I feel it is handled badly it can piss me off to the point I abandon the book. When it's done well it doesn't bother me in the slightest. I don't care if the author has a history of it or not.

For context I've been sexually assaulted both as a child and as an adult.
Understandably so and that is everything I want to avoid, its not in my aim to offend or completely misrepresent the pain of others. Honestly I was hesitant to go into writing it but I feel like abandoning this won’t do any good since it’s something that is real and should be acknowledged as such. Thank you for your feedback as someone who has experienced this, I’ll try my best to handle it fittingly.
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ImAGiraffe
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(Original post by Joleee)
if it helps, i can tell you that prevalent side-effects of sexual assault are shame and fear of not being believed (which is why most victims don't come forward). very few reports actually make it to trial and even fewer get prosecuted. has nothing to do with the attractiveness of the victim but vulnerability and opportunity (which is why most perpetrators are someone the victim knows). i understand wanting to add depth to your characters, but at the same time i wouldn't try to make it overly complected and i wouldn't negate your own imagination. just because you haven't experienced it yourself, i'm sure you can imagine the pain of. good luck with your writing. i'm intrigued.

edit: sorry i should've quoted you.
Thank you for the information, the amount of reports that make it to trial is actually very interesting to me as I wonder about the reasoning. Perhaps like you said the victims feel shame or I wonder if it’s just easier to move on from it, however outside from the victim i do question the role of the justice system in this. Although my world is low fantasy I want this to be something that remains real, something not too central but also that you cant just overlook. Thanks for the good luck, it’s was nice seeing another opinion on the matter
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Apachecow
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I don't know how bad you intend the sexual assault to be, but I have some friends who have been assaulted and I'm surprised by their reaction in most cases. In 3 cases where girls were basically taken advantage of when drunk none of them feel 'broken' by the experience and all partially blame themselves for the situation happening. I knew about one of the incidents at the time and encouraged her to report it but she didn't.

All are now normal functioning humans with healthy relationships. I think we hear a disproportionate amount about the people permanently traumatised by these things.

Or perhaps my friends experiences aren't typical of pushy drunk sex when the girl a bit too drunk to really say yes or no.
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Anonymous #1
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Watch 13 reasons why
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