One of the pleasures of writing is you can affect the lives of others for the better. When I began my current novel WIP, I thought I’d make it about the grittier side of growing up. My character grew up in an alcoholic home, is a survivor of sexual abuse, and suffers from bullying and suicidal thoughts. What I did not appreciate when I started this is how many of our young people experience these things.
There are scores of studies on what percentage of high school students are victims of sexual and physical abuse, substance abuse, bullying, and depression and suicidal thoughts. While statistics have their value to researchers, I think we need to remember people are not statistics. Whether the number of victims is one out of seven, one out of six, or one out of four, the point is a very large percentage of our young people deal with these issues every day.
What surprised me the most is when I started showing the manuscript to other people, so many of them said they had similar experiences to my character or knew someone who had. Much of this activity is hidden. And I think the number is much higher than we are popularly aware of. It’s my hope that by writing about these things, I can help bring these experiences to light so those who are struggling with these issues will realize they are not alone.