Guest Post: Why I Wrote “The Packing House” by G. Donald Cribbs, YA Author

I’m delighted to introduce you to G. Donald Cribbs, a strong survivor of male child sexual abuse, who wrote THE PACKING HOUSE which deals with male sexual abuse, to help others. His first publisher closed, but you can still read THE PACKING HOUSE for free in the link below. I hope you will, and will leave a review on that site to help Don get it published again. Survivor voices need to be heard! And we can all help each other.

Take it away, Don!

Why I Wrote “The Packing House”

by G. Donald Cribbs

*trigger warning*

I have been working on my recovery since the age of four when I was sexually assaulted by my stepfather. I couldn’t remain in the same state and had to move across country with my siblings to my paternal grandparent’s house. We stayed there for 2 years while the court case went on. It was a turbulent time for us. We were young, and this was the first time we were apart from our mother. As it turned out, that was only the beginning.

It’s taken me decades to work through the trauma of that time. Six months of being assaulted whenever my abuser felt the urge, during the day when he babysat neighborhood kids, isolated at his parent’s farmhouse, or at night while I was asleep. No place was sacred. He would even come into the bathroom to pee with me. I couldn’t get away from him.

Slowly, I healed.

Along the way I found things that helped me: music, books, art, theater. In high school, I wrote stories and poems and worked to find my voice as a writer. I won writing contests and started getting attention for the things I wrote. People were listening, and this was a tremendous step in my healing process. I felt seen for the first time and believed.

When I went to the library, I wanted to find books that had characters like me, who had gone through the things I had gone through and found a way through to the other side where healing was. But there weren’t many books like that. I remember finding SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson, and SCARS by Cheryl Rainfield. I could see myself in the characters of Melinda and Kendra, but it wasn’t until much later when I found THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, BOY TOY, FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK, and THE GOSPEL OF WINTER, that I finally found characters like me.

So, I decided to do something about that. I wrote my survivor story, my #ownvoices lived experience which I told through the lense of Joel Scrivener, the MC in THE PACKING HOUSE, book one of a planned duology.

I wrote it to give voice to male survivors. I wanted readers to understand what it is like to live day in and day out with the aftermath of sexual assault, particularly when experienced at such a young age. Further, I wanted readers to understand that healing is possible, and life can get better.

I survived the trauma of sexual assault. I bled. My colon was enlarged, which took years to go back to a regular size by drinking mineral oil daily. I had ten years of recurring nightmares. I had daily intrusive memories. I felt ashamed, guilt, and like I didn’t belong anywhere in this world.

Joel Asleep At His Desk. Artwork by
Crystal Smalls Ord. @smallsord

One of the aspects I shared in my story was my struggle to process my sexual identity, which is often confused when a survivor of sexual assault is the same gender as the abuser. None of the other books spoke about this, and it was important to me to allow my MC, Joel, explore his sexuality apart from his abuse. Thus, Joel is bi-curious and has relationships with both boys and girls. I think when we write about experiences of teens, we need to be representative of those who are in our world, and inclusive of those who have been previously marginalized. This will continue in book two as well.

Writing my story was a part of my healing journey. It took me five years to get it published, and my publisher closed 6 months after my book came out in paperback and e-book in 2016. Now it’s currently out of print.

For the past 2 years, I’ve worked to find another publisher, finished graduate school in clinical mental health counseling, and am writing UNPACKING THE PAST, book 2, to finish out the duology.

While I have had full requests, still under consideration with a publisher, I have submitted THE PACKING HOUSE to the publisher, Inkitt, which uses an online platform to allow readers to sample book manuscripts, collects reader interaction data with those manuscripts, and once complete, offers publication to those books which demonstrate they are worth the risk to publish in paperback, e-book, and audiobook formats. Currently, I am 60% through the data-collecting process. Thus far, readers have read 2031 chapter reads, 101 chapter 1 reads, 29 completed reads, and written 11 reviews of the book. All 11 reviews are 5/5 star reviews. You can help. Please note the trigger warning. If you do read the book, I hope you’ll post your honest review and let other readers know about books worth reading.

Here’s where you can temporarily read THE PACKING HOUSE for free on Inkitt.

 Thanks, Cheryl, for letting me share about the reasons why I wrote The Packing House, and its sequel, Unpacking the Past.

Thank you, Don, for your courage and strength in speaking out and writing your books to help others.

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