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Wednesday, May 6

NOT INADEQUATE / A Post about Self-Defense and Abuse / IWSG


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Can you help share the details about my mom's debut middle grade book Bad Fairy on your blog or Facebook? The post won't include an article but rather be a book blast consisting of the cover, blurb, links, excerpt, my mom's bio, and a giveaway. Dates June 3 - June 30.



***This is long. Feel free to skip the excerpts.***

Someone once said that Beth Kennedy (in Hurricane Crimes) wasn’t a very adequate self-defense instructor and all because Donovan had bested her a couple of times.

(Don’t worry…this is not me attacking a reviewer but discussing my characters and real abuse/sexual assault.)

Let me make it clear that Donovan was never trying to hurt Beth. In fact, she was the one attempting to hurt him. When I wrote Donovan, I wanted him to be a good match for Beth in every way. And, for the sake of the story, I couldn’t let Beth get away. It was intentional, not a failing on her part.


Excerpts from Hurricane Crimes:

#1:

Beth blinked at the green needles and thick nest of branches that completely blocked the doorway. Then, without wasting another second, she jabbed her elbow into Donovan’s stomach. He grunted, but he didn’t release her. She started to thrash wildly.

“Beth, stop! If I wanted you dead, I wouldn’t have saved you just now.” His arms locked around her to silence her struggles.

“You would’ve if you wanted to kill me yourself!”

“Beth, do you realize you can’t go anywhere?” 

She had, but her survival instincts were telling her to fight. She tried twice as hard to get free. Therefore, she bit his hand.

“Damn it, Beth!” He rolled until he was on top of her and pinned her down. “I am not a murderer! I have never murdered anyone in my life!”

“And I’m supposed to believe you?” She bucked beneath him.

“Stop!” He grabbed her shoulders. “I don’t want to…” She flinched in pain and a whimper escaped her lips. “…hurt you.”

His gaze lowered to her left shoulder. She held still, debating whether or not she should bite him again, as he tentatively pulled down the collar to her shirt and looked at the ugly bruise already blooming in purples and reds.


#2:

She heard a soft footfall directly behind her and whirled around, wielding the heavy candlestick holder. Donovan caught her wrist in his hand before she could bash in his head. Not missing a beat, she thrust her knee up to ram it into his groin. He anticipated the move and cupped the back of her knee in a tight grip that halted her attempt to cripple him. Then in a swift movement, he swept her off her feet, flattened her back to the bed, straddled her, and pinned her arms above her head.

“Do you really think you’re safer outside with Hurricane Sabrina than inside with me?” Donovan demanded. She would’ve given him an answer, but he didn’t wait for her to reply. “I am not a killer! An hour ago, I walked in on my brother’s murder.”

Her brain had to reconfigure to understand the words he had said. “What?!”



~*~

For years, that person’s opinion stuck with me.

In Seismic Crimes I even wrote a scene in response to it.


~*~


Excerpt from Seismic Crimes:

“I was up against you, and you apparently had a chance,” she said with a bite to her words.

His lips spread. “I’m a different kind of man.”

“You certainly are,” she mumbled. She picked up a can of disinfectant to spray down the mat but paused in her chores with a hand on her hip. “How exactly did you stop my attempts to hit you?”

“I knew what you were going to do a second before you did.”

She glowered. “Don’t let anyone know that, or I’d be out of a job.”

“Any other man, baby, and you definitely would’ve crushed his nuts and beaten the crap out of him with that candlestick holder.”

“You pinned me on the floor.”

Donovan thought back. After he yanked her into her house, seconds before a tree crashed onto the welcome mat, he had rolled her beneath him to stop her struggles. He nodded once. “I did.”

Her maple eyes darkened. “I know how to get out of that hold. I teach people how to get out of that hold.”

“Beth.” He took her shoulders in his hands. “I was prepared for you to fight me. I pushed my body weight onto your hips so you wouldn’t be able to pivot me off you. My brother did martial arts for years and taught me everything he knew. I knew what I was doing. Don’t think just because you couldn’t get away from me, or hit me, makes you an inadequate self-defense instructor. We both know that’s not true.”

Beth looked up at him. “I appreciate that.”

~*~

Self-defense instructors are human. Even with all of their knowledge and skills, they can still be injured, outsmarted, and abused. Even Supergirl gets beaten, wounded, and loses fights. Heck, so does Superman! And Batman!

~*~

SPOILERS: In Seismic Crimes, Beth tackles a man about to impale Donovan with a sharp rock and gets clobbered in the face in return. She stays conscious long enough to call for help. In Tsunami Crimes, she is kidnapped and attempts to get free, but she’s up against five men who restrain her. She manages to break out of her confinement, using her self-defense skills, and almost escapes before getting shot. However, it’s her quick-thinking even then that gets her rescued. In Flaming Crimes, she’s nabbed again but gets away moments later. She runs and hides in the way she teaches her students to do. And in Frozen Crimes…well…she uses mental strength rather than physical strength to survive.

~*~

For everything Beth does right, her opponents also do something against her. She’s not fighting a dummy or a punching bag or in a safe environment where everyone is wearing protection. These are actual dangerous situations with men of equal or greater strength, who also have weapons.

It’s a sad fact that people who know proper self-defense, athletes, and even women who can kick a man’s butt in the boxing ring can still be abused or sexually assaulted. This is not a failing on their part, either. The problem lies with the abusers, with the very fact that they do these things. When someone is attacked in this way, they can freeze up. All of their self-defense knowledge can vanish. Their fight-or-flight instinct may not even kick into gear. They can become paralyzed. Calling them inadequate would be wrong.

While writing more books in the Disaster Crimes series and especially while creating Amanda (first introduced in Flaming Crimes), who was deeply abused in a past relationship, I did research on sexual assault survivors. I used that information while writing Book 6, Thorn’s story.

Check Out: Whatever Gets You Through: Twelve Survivors on Life after Sexual Assault


Amanda is Beth’s assistant at The Fighting Chance. Not only do the two of them teach people how to defend themselves and give them confidence that translates to other areas of their lives, but they give survivors (like Amanda) a much-needed outlet.

Amanda is an assistant self-defense instructor and a domestic abuse survivor. She’s bad ass and yet fragile.

Beth is a self-defense instructor and a survivor of kidnapping, multiple disasters, and a GSW. She’s bad ass and HUMAN.

They’re my heroines of steel not because they can’t be hurt or fail but because, with all I throw at them, they SURVIVE.

Beth is not inadequate in any way. Not when a bad guy fills her with fear or hurts her, not even in Hurricane Crimes when Donovan anticipated her moves.

And Amanda isn’t inadequate, either. Not when she has panic attacks or sets Home Alone-inspired traps up in her house, not even when her ex comes to terrorize her.

If you’ve ever been in any sort of situation like them, whether you know self-defense or not, whether you used those skills or not, you’re not inadequate, and it’s not your fault.

You’re a survivor.

You’re steel.

66 comments:

  1. Such an awesome post! I love how you wrote a scene in response to that review.

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  2. A very powerful post. Thank you for sharing this breakdown. I also think that any abuse in one form or another has more to do with mental and emotional control. The physical induces fear and insecurity, and chops at one's self-esteem. Obviously, it's more complicated than that, but for lack of time and space... This is an important topic to bring to light, especially during this time of social distancing and self quarantine. <3

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    1. Thank you, Sheri! You comment means a lot to me. And, yes, it is far more than being physical. It's truly about the emotional damage an abuser can inflict. That is the hardest to heal from, too.

      Thank you for reading my post and for comment. <3

      Delete
  3. No matter how prepared, anyone can be caught by surprise. Plus there's a lot of mental baggage that can come into play.

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    1. Absolutely. The mental part of an attack is what can paralyze us. And then there's the aftermath of an attach, which is harder to heal from, even more so than broken bones.

      Delete
  4. Powerful scenes and meaningful education on attacks. Yes, I imagine the aftermath of an attack haunts the individual.Definitely a "victim" needs help to heal.
    JQ Rose

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    Replies
    1. It certainly does, It's not something that can ever be forgotten.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  5. A very powerful piece and a great discussion!

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  6. So true that anyone can be the victim of abuse and knowing how to defend yourself is not a complete defense. Awesome that you wrote a scene in response the review.

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    1. Thank you, Natalie! And thanks for your comment!

      Delete
  7. It's easy to watch someone respond to an attack on TV or the movies, but I know the mental aspect of being attacked would slow me down to an almost useless state. I'm afraid that by the time it would occur to me to fight back, the fight would be over.

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    1. I think I'd be the same. I'd react to slowly, would be too stunned.

      Delete
  8. Past trauma can most certainly mess with someone's head, even if they are a trained killer. People aren't perfect.

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  9. "They’re my heroines of steel not because they can’t be hurt or fail but because, with all I throw at them, they SURVIVE." <---Love this.

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  10. I've worked with far too many kids who've survived traumas over the years. There are so many stages to survive and get through to feel like a survivor. The belief that they will survive and learn to thrive again is so important

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  11. Great post, Chris! I beat myself up for years for freezing up and being unable to even scream when I was molested as a child, but I've learned to appreciate that I AM a survivor. (I've never been as much of a bad ass as Beth is, though.)

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    1. I;'m so sorry for what you went through as a child. *HUGS*

      I think I've made Beth as much of a bad ass as she is because I can't be that way, myself.

      Delete
  12. Trauma can stay with a person for ever in one way or another. Interesting and thoughtful post.

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  13. Your commenter appears to know nothing about the dynamics of self-defense, in the physical sense or the mental sense. I've been involved in this field, and personally do not know a single instructor who can't be bested by someone at sometime. To hold otherwise is comic book super-hero stuff, and even they have their kryptonite, etc. I wonder if such a comment would have been made had the character been male, rather than female.

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    1. I wonder about that, too. The reviewer was a woman, but women often are more critical of other women. Sadly.

      Delete
  14. I like how you created a scene to answer that criticism. Although, critics gonna criticize. You can't win them all.

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  15. I think you wrote those scenes convincingly and believably. I admire Beth's strength and I really like that you added that to her character. Self defense for a woman doesn't mean she can physically overtake every situation. Great awareness post, Chrys. I'm looking forward to your next one in the series. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lisa! And thank you for your comment. All of your comments end up making me feel good.

      Delete
  16. Great post! No matter how much training you have, you don't actually know what it's going to be like in a real situation where you have to defend yourself.

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    Replies
    1. Exactly. So much can take us by surprise.

      Delete
  17. Great post. It's interesting what sticks with you out of all the responses people have to your work. @samanthabwriter from
    Balancing Act

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  18. Great post. I love Beth and Amanda. I love what you've done with this series. You more than entertain, you enlighten and educate while also empowering. I look forward to the next book.

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    1. Thank you so much! Your words mean a lot to me. You really see what I try to do with my characters and stories. That kind of awareness from a reader is everything!

      Delete
  19. A wonderful post Chrys. loved the read. Sorry I can't help your mother as I'm not on Facebook.

    Yvonne.

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  20. Thank you for a powerful post, and congratulations to your mom!

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  21. Many people who've not experienced trauma don't realize what it can do to a person's mind, in all sorts of myriad ways. Things that seem abnormal, unhealthy, or inexplicable to others make perfect sense to the person who went through that trauma.

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  22. Interesting assessment. From a strictly novelistic perspective, of course, your protagonist HAS to fail. Repeatedly, before finally succeeding. Otherwise, you have a Superman comic (of the sort from my childhood, where he just goes around beating one crook after another), not a novel. But it's interesting that the criticism stuck with you--and led you to offer something that might be of real help to those who wonder if they have failed.

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    1. Absolutely! And that is something I say I greatly believe in...putting my characters through a lot of sh*t and then getting them through it. My characters fail and then they win.

      Delete
  23. Cool that you wrote a response to criticism, what a creative way to have your say. Also, glad you pointed this topic out, especially at this time. :)

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  24. Thought-provoking post! No one ever knows how they will react to those kinds of situations until they're in them. And just because you know how to defend yourself, doesn't mean things will play out like you practiced in self-defense classes. The person you're up against could be a trained martial artist, too, and much stronger and/or better than you. Lori at https://lorilmaclaughlin.com

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    1. That's a great point. In a class, it's all planned out and you're in a safe environment, but in real life, there's so many unknown variables.

      Delete
  25. Hi Chrys - the others have rightly complemented you on this post - a necessary one, and particularly pertinent now. Physical abuse is just so unnecessary. then to combine it with mental abuse too ... or either separately - shows the emotional instability and cruelty of the abuser. Thank you for explaining so much ... and good luck with all the books - take care and stay safe - Hilary

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Hilary!

      Delete
  26. "You're steel." I love that so much! You're so right, Chrys, it's not their fault. That freeze, fight, or flight mode really does kick in and you never know which one it will be. Thank you for talking about a tough topic.

    Elsie

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    1. And that's probably the scariest thing, You could be trained to fight but freeze instead. Thank you for reading my post, Elise!

      Delete
  27. Good words. Somewhere a long time ago, I came across a quote that stuck with me... "It's not stress that kills us, its the adaption to stress that allows us to live" (or something like that). Congratulations to your mom!

    www.thepulpitandthepen.com

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  28. none of us ever really know how we will respond in a situation like that. i would hope i would at least try to kick butt
    sherry @ fundinmental

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  29. Abuse is so difficult for me to read about. I agree with many here. It should be something we can stop in society. Sometimes I think mental abuse can be more harmful than physical abuse. It depends on when it happens in someone's life. All the luck with your Mom's new release. Be safe, my friend.

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    Replies
    1. The mental abuse sticks around longed and is harder to overcome and heal from.

      Thank you, Victoria!

      Delete
  30. It's hard to imagine ever completely recovering from that kind of physical abuse. Congratulations on your mom's new release! Stay safe and healthy, Chrys!

    Julie

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    Replies
    1. It is hard to imagine. :(

      Thank you, Julie!

      Delete
  31. I have no doubt that a strong self-defense teacher could be overcome. I found your story's heroine believable. Don't dwell on one's person's comment. (Even as I say that I recall a contest judge's very negative comment. LOL) Congrats on your mom's new release. Of course, I signed up. Stay safe!

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  32. Hi Chrys I'm impressed your Mom has published "the Good Fairy", I got Ernie to post your Kindle book to his Facebook page. Congratulations to you both and good luck

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