#IWearDenim Because I Support Other Survivors & I Know It Is Never a Survivor’s Fault For Being Raped.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (#SAAM), and today (April 27) is #DenimDay. I’m wearing denim to show my support for other survivors, and to take a stand against our rape culture.
As an incest, rape, and cult survivor, I was frequently told by my abusers that the rapes I endured were my fault. That I wanted it, or asked for it, or somehow made it happen. But it was never my fault or my choice. And if you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted, it’s not yours, either. No matter what you were wearing. No matter who your rapist was. Rape is always the rapist’s fault.
Being raped is devastating enough. But on top of that, survivors often get shamed, blamed, told to keep quiet, told they are ruining the rapists’ life, or are not believed. Speaking out shouldn’t be so hard; being listened to and believed is part of the healing process. We live in a rape culture that blames and belittles survivors, sexualizes young girls and boys, and encourages denial. This deepens the emotional scars from sexual assault.
I hope you’ll join me in supporting other survivors, believing them, and speaking out when you hear jokes or attitudes that blame, shame, or silence survivors.
I speak out against rape culture and support other survivors through my books–writing emotionally and honestly from my experiences as an incest, rape, torture survivor–and through my online presence. I hope you’ll find your own way to speak out and help others. One way to start is to take the pledge.
#DenimDay #DenimDayAuthors #NoExcuses #IWearDenim #TakeThePledge
#WeBelieveSurvivors #IBelieveSurvivors #ISupportYou #Survivor
The world is limited for people who can’t read. Imagine not being able to read signs, medication labels, job applications, or a note from your child’s teacher, and not having the pleasure of reading a novel. Reading helped me survive the abuse and torture of my childhood; I am saddened for the people who don’t have that escape. And reading novels helps reduce stress, increase vocabulary and knowledge, stimulate your mind and possibly slow down or prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia, increase empathy, and do better at school and in life. People who can’t read often have lower incomes, lower quality jobs, low self-esteem, and worse health. Yet nearly 800 million people worldwide cannot read or write, 126 million of them are children, and 2/3 are girls or women.
Infographic via Grammarly
Infographic via International Literacy Association who want to create the Age of Literacy by spreading the #800Mil2Nil message.
How can you help? Read to children in your life and give them the gift of books–including letting them choose some of their own books. Volunteer your time at your library or school after-school reading program. Create a Free Little Library. Donate to your local library or library of your choice, and to literacy organizations:
I LOVE this post by #YAlit author Ava Jae On The Lack of Chronic Illness Rep In YA, and I’m honored that she included Parallel Visions in her list. We need to change the message that’s out there in YA lit for chronically ill teens: that their stories are only worth telling if they die or have a miracle cure. Chronically ill kids and teens can be heroes in their own right. I wrote Parallel Visions after getting asthma. It’s terrifying to feel like you can’t breathe. But chronic disease has nothing to do with us being strong, intelligent, empathic beings who can be heroes and have adventures, too.
Read her fantastic post, book suggestions, and reader comments on more book suggestions.
I’m honored that SCARS is a recommended YA read in Michelle Falter’s thoughtful, insightful post on mental health and social justice. I agree that we need to be brave and talk about our issues; eventually it will help create greater understanding, compassion, and empathy.I have long been open that, as a direct result of daily/nightly rape and torture at the hands of my family, I suffer from severe depression, PTSD, anxiety/panic attacks, and dissociation, among other things, and I used to self-harm to cope. I also tried to kill myself as a teen. Abuse leaves lasting effects. And yet we can find ways to cope and to heal. And part of that, I believe, is being able to be open about what we’re going through, let go of societal shame or judgement, and find acceptance in ourselves and from people we are close to. Give high-school teacher and educator Michelle Falter’s post a read; I thought it was fantastic. I would personally prefer the term “mental health,” but I wholeheartedly agree with her sentiments! Read it here: http://goo.gl/6VMDDt.
(Originally written and posted for Pride Week on E. K. Anderson’s blog.)
I once overheard someone say that Pride Week was a giant party and why wasn’t there a party for them (heterosexuals). It may look like a party—we certainly work hard at celebrating and connecting with friends and loved ones, and at being proud of who we are—but many of us in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer/Questioning) community have faced homophobia, harassment, hatred, hate violence, and some have even been murdered. It can be a struggle to be who we are in the face of hate and discrimination. It gets even harder when we are isolated or lack support, and especially for teens who may lack community and resources.
Many LGBTQ teens are afraid to come out to their families or friends because they may be bullied, attacked, kicked out of their families and homes, or killed. Even in the US, Canada, and the UK, there are still queer youth (and adults) who are stalked, bullied, harassed, beaten, raped, and/or murdered for who we are and who we love. In at least seventy countries, it’s still a crime to be gay. Just being a teen is hard enough, with the social pressures to conform and to be liked, never mind the added pain if you’ve experienced bullying or abuse. Add in homophobia, and it’s no wonder that LGB youth are four times as likely to try to kill themselves.
Every questioning and LGBTQ teen should have a safe place to explore and grow into their own sexuality, to be able to feel good about it and celebrate it, rather than fear the reaction of their parents, friends, or the world around them.
For some, Pride Week may be the first time they see that they’re not alone; that they see themselves in a positive light without hatred, disgust, or shame; that they can hold their lover’s hand in public without fear of backlash; or that they feel a real sense of safety, community, and belonging.
But LGBTQ Pride Week—one week out of the year—isn’t enough. We all need to see ourselves reflected in popular culture—through books, comics, TV shows, movies, magazines, and ads—to help us know that we’re not alone, that we’re okay as we are, and for LGBTQ people especially to help fight homophobia and embrace who we are. There are some LGBTQ media, but not enough to reflect our real world, and teens in isolated or conservative areas or with homophobic parents or communities may have a hard time finding resources.
Many queer and questioning teens don’t have support around them, don’t have anyone they can talk to, and books may be their first or only way to find someone—a character—like them. I think we need many more LGBTQ books, and especially lesbian and trans books (I’ve found there are usually more gay-focused than lesbian books available). Books where the teen characters are simply LGBTQ, and the story line is about another issue (which helps normalize us), as well as more YA LGBTQ romance. Books that I hope any reader will want to pick up, regardless of their sexuality. Hey, I read books with both heterosexual and LGBTQ characters all the time; I don’t discriminate based on sexuality. I just enjoy a good book.
I make sure to have LGBTQ characters in all the books I write, whether they are the main character or secondary characters. It’s important to me. As a queer teen, I struggled to find lesbian characters in books, movies, and TV where the lesbians didn’t kill themselves or end up unhappy. I found very few—only one teen book that had a lesbian character that I can remember—Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden. This has changed over the years; there are more LGBTQ YA books now, but there still aren’t enough, and in so many books even LGBTQ background characters are mysteriously missing. I have been delighted to see more and more heterosexual writers bring LGBTQ characters into their books. I hope someday soon we’ll see a greater number of books reflecting the world we live in, with characters who are LGBTQ, and of different cultures and races, disabilities and abilities, mental health issues, and everything that makes up all of us.
Books give hope. I desperately needed books that reflected my experiences as a queer abused teen; they helped me survive. And books can save lives. And I know that from the many reader letters I’ve received; many tell me that after reading one of my books it’s the first time they talked to someone about being queer, or abused, or even that my book kept them from killing themselves. If you are or know someone who is part of the LGBTQ community, I hope you’ll buy, read, or give some YA LGBTQ books.
You can find many here:
GAY YA: LGBTQIA+ Characters In Young Adult Fiction;
LGBT YA. via YA author Malinda Lo;
A Guide To YA Novels With LGBT Characters via YALSA;
I’m Here, I’m Queer, What The Hell Do I Read? via Lee Wind;
Wrapped Up In Books: LGBTQ YA Fiction 2015; and
LGBT YA Reviews.
I hope you accept and celebrate who you are and who you love, help others do the same, and find many people who love and accept you for the beautiful person you are.
Happy Pride Month! I hope you feel pride and joy about who you are all year long.
If you need to talk to someone:
International crisis and suicide helplines
The USA has just gained marriage equality in all 50 states! SO happy for the USA and proud of you all, too. Congratulations on marriage equality! This is truly love winning and not hate. We are inching towards #LGBTQ equality! This is a huge step forward, and something to celebrate.
Now we need even more countries to give queer people the right to marry (it shouldn’t be something that has to be given; it should be a basic right) and an end to homophobia and hatred! An end to LGBTQ hate crimes–murder and bullying and rape–and an end to LGBTQ suicide. It’s still a crime in at least 70 countries to be queer. We can’t stop fighting for equality and justice for all. For all LGBTQ people to live in safety and be able to be out and who we are.
Today is a huge mile stone for the US. So happy for you USA! Happy, happy Pride to you all.
Happy Pride Week from Petal and me! I wish you pride and a feeling of rightness in who you are–always. I hope you find many, many friends who celebrate you and love you for who you are. And I hope you celebrate the freedoms we have and that we’re still fighting for, hope you celebrate love and the right to be who we are, in whatever way you choose to. Happy Pride!
I love reading YA books; they’re my favorite–and I love writing them, too. (Smiling) So much emotion and tension, strong-girl characters (and strong boys, too) who I root for, no boring bits or long passages of description that stop the story, so often characters overcoming great odds or fighting for what is right or learning something important about themselves and other people, and novels tackling issues that others aren’t talking about. YA books feed my soul–and they helped me survive when I was a teen being abused. So I’m happy #IReadYa week is here! (See @thisisteen on Instagram for more info.)
Elusion by Claudia Gable & Cheryl Klam,
Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay,
and The Taking by Kimberly Derting–all of which I highly recommend.
The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi
and If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan. And I love Julie Anne Peters’ novels, and so many other #LGBTQ novels.
And I always recommend realistic YA fiction by Ellen Hopkins, Jennifer Brown, April Henry, Laura Wiess, Jo Knowles, Gail Giles, and many more. Discover the fantastic books out there waiting for you!
Written and illustrated by Charlie Alder
Publisher: Running Press
Recommended Age: 3-6 years
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Review Source: Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Daredevil Duck likes to think he’s the bravest duck in the world–even though he’s afraid of things that are too dark, too wet, too fluttery, and too high. He has a superhero helmet, X-ray glasses, cape, and tricycle to help him feel braver and stronger, but he gets teased by other ducks for being a scaredy duck. One day when he was floating along the water, a mole popped out to say hello, and Daredevil Duck got so scared he ran away–and ended up right back where he started. The mole asked him to rescue his balloon from a tree, and after some encouragement from the mole, Daredevil Duck climbed the tall tree, rescuing the balloon, and floated through the air, conquering his fear of heights. After he landed and the mole praised him as being the world’s bravest duck, Daredevil believed him–and tried to be brave in many ways: roller-staking, rolling down hills, turning off the light before getting into bed. And he reminded the ducks who teased him that he really was brave. Yet he’s not always brave; sometimes he’s still afraid of things.
One of the first things I noticed was the creative and fun use of lift-a-flap panels of various sizes hiding and then revealing Daredevil Duck when you turn or open the panel. They’ll be fun for little hands. The illustrations are bright and colorful, with Daredevil Duck standing out in primary colors of yellow (his beak and feet), red (his helmet) and blue (his cape and glasses). Many illustrations have a large amount of white space in the background, which makes the characters stand out even more, while other pages have colorful backgrounds. Some of the illustration style–signs pointing to objects in a spread or a sign “taped” to a page, reminded me of Melanie Watt’s Scaredy Squirrel, as well as the scared/brave character concept. Readers who love Scaredy Squirrel may also love Daredevil Duck. There’s a comic-like quality to the illustrations that will please many young readers.
The text appears both in the usual print on the page, as well as through signs, mini comic panels, and dialogue bubbles, engaging both visual and auditory interest. It teaches the reader about being brave–both that we don’t have to be brave all the time, and that sometimes if we take a chance we can face our fears and come out stronger. I like that the text isn’t preachy; it just tells a story with meaning. At times the text felt too long to me, but the story was entertaining.
Daredevil Duck encourages readers to find their own little ways to be brave–trying new activities, meeting new people–and reminds them that they can be brave and yet still scared sometimes, too. Fans of Melanie Watt’s Scaredy Squirrel and anyone who’s ever been scared but wants to feel brave will likely enjoy Daredevil Duck.
If you’d like to win a copy of this book, leave a comment below. In one week I’ll use the random number generator to pick a winner.
You can see other reviews of Daredevil Duck at these blogs:
5/4 Wife Hat, Mom Hat
5/5 Geo Librarian
5/6 In The Pages
5/7 Stacking Books
5/9 Bea’s Book Nook
5/11 Coffee for the Brain
5/12 The Picture Book Review
5/13 Mrs. Brown Loves Bookworms
5/14 Mom Read It
5/15 Unpacking the POWER of Picture Books
5/16 Cheryl Rainfield
5/17 Unleashing Readers
STAINED comes out in paperback today! I’m excited and happy. (Grinning) Like I did with SCARS, I drew on some of my own trauma and healing to write STAINED.
In STAINED, Sarah thinks she knows what fear is-until she’s abducted. Now she must find a way to save herself.
Sarah is a strong girl character who grows to recognize her own strength. And just like I had to, Sarah must rescue herself over and over again until she’s finally safe. I know that you can save yourself, too, if you need to. You are stronger than you know.
I’ve been so excited that I had to take another pic with my “Sometimes you have to be your own hero” T-shirt–the tagline from STAINED and a theme in most of my books–and the paperback copy of STAINED in my hand. (Grinning)
My lovely 94-year-old neighbour Nan took the photo, and though you can’t see her, Petal is on the sofa behind me. (Smiling)
If you want one of the special message T-shirts or hoodies you can order at http://www.teespring.com/cherylrainfield and when there are 20 orders they will print again.