Thursday, February 23, 2012

Writing About The Dark Side of Humanity

"Stop it! You're hurting her!"

Those words cut to the core of my being.
Chilling words aren't they?
I can imagine the scene. I can hear the slap, the thud, tumbling chairs and pretty little things breaking.

When it comes to domestic abuse, I want to make the big bad abuser feel 10x the pain that has been doled out.

At the very least, I need to write about it.

As a novelist, my imagination has a funny way of taking the things in life that don't make sense and turning them into stories. When it comes to abusers I've managed to weave them into two of my novels, Reunion and Twisted Vengeance. The first time I did this, the abuse was threaded into the backstory of a troubled teen. Most recently, I not only built a storyline around domestic violence, but created themes and subplots that damage the people in the story, giving them scars from their past, and obstacles to overcome.

My immediate family has many stories to tell about abuse, both physical and sexual, so I know a little about what it means to hurt, even decades after the abuse has stopped. Hence, cutting to the core of my being. I hate abuse. I hate the cycles it produces. Fortunately, it can stop.

I've had hands-on-experience with an abuser. I watched him hurt his family and listened to the never ending, "I'm sorry", "I love you", "I've changed", "Can you forgive me?" bull crap, only to see it happen again, and again.

I feel called to tell the dark stories that lie beneath the surface, and to tell the stories of real people, with real pain, with no voice. Of course I want to entertain. Of course I want to create substance, and a compelling read. But I have a strong conviction to tell the tales that are often overlooked, disregarded, misjudged, and forgotten.

The wounded, the molested, the bruised, and neglected. These are the stories that you hear about on the news, but only the cases that are discovered and manage to hit the headlines. Rarely are they they extreme cases. Little do we know that abuse of all kinds is running rampant. There are women, teens, girls and boys in your neighborhood right now who are silently suffering from physical, psychological and sexual abuse. There are parents who are "done with their kids", "had enough" and ready to sign them over to the state, and families that are disintegrating because the pain of abuse is misunderstood.

Teens are hiding their hurt. Boys and girls down the street feel ashamed and wonder if they are to blame.

So of all the things I could write about, why this? Why write about something I hate? Why write about a topic that we'd rather not think about? My answer: because it is necessary, because we cannot forget, because turning a blind eye is wrong.

Conflict is in the center of every good book. At the heart of conflict is the protagonist's inner conflict that drives his or her greatest desires. And at the heart of every writer is a need to tell the truth about life, to reveal secrets, to expose societies, and to heal people who are broken inside.

Twisted Vengeance is that kind of story. There are twists and turns and mysterious characters. No one is who you think they are, and no one is innocent until the truth is revealed; much like the society we live in. But there is more to this tale. There is life. There is pain. There is vengeance. And there is truth. And the truth is... sometimes life sucks; sometimes life doesn't make sense; sometimes we want to grab a shot gun and blow the balls off the sons-of-bitches that hurt the innocent.

This why I can never stop writing. Communicating these messages is a labor of love for me. Telling the truth about the human race through twisted plot lines and dark villains is just too important, and too much fun. How could I ever do anything else?

That's all. Sometimes I have to vent. Sometimes I have to rage. And sometimes I write a damn good story.

You can read reviews Here.

Jeff Bennington is the author of Twisted Vengeance, Reunion, and Creepy
The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe will be available on 2-25



  1. I find myself drawn to reading a writing the dark side, and not all of the dark side is bloodcurdling monsters. I've worked with children and adult abusers, mostly came from abuse themselves. I've worked with adults with mental health and addiction and criminality backgrounds (and quite often foregrounds). I have my own history of the dark side too. It shouldn't be hidden, it shouldn't be glamourised. Its both fascinating and ugly. It's humanity at it's worst.

  2. @Shah~Thank you for sharing that. I'm grateful for your transparency and the work you have given to help these troubled souls.

  3. I worked with Domestic Abuse and Sexual Asault/Abuse victims (DV/SA)and survivors, volunteered and in paid positions. (DV/SA funding has been cut to the bone especially in IL my state.)

    I aplaud your choice of writing topic. Books like yours are important to getting the message out that DV/SA happens to all kinds of people across social/economic/race class. Women don't stay because they are ignorant or uneducated; there aren't many good options, abusers break them emotionally, brainwash and isolate them from their family and support systems. I could go on about the false beliefs out there that victimize the victim.

    I'm an aspiring author. My WIP is an urban fantasy and the main character is a DV/Sa counselor but gets laid off. My book is not dark or gritty but I sneak and interweave facts about DV and the plight of victims. I interweave the political issues that keep support services for victims underfunded and in many case cause agencies close their doors. She'll eventually open a shelter for victims (human or otherwise)of supernatural DV and I hope to continue to showcase DV/SA in a real if fantastical format.

    I hope readers can recognize the truth presented in very different ways our books and books like them. I hope at least the reader takes away the fact that DV and SA is NOT the victims fault. And wouldn't it be wonderful if readers take action personally, politically and in their communities to prevent DV/SA and to support services for prevention as well as help for victims.

  4. @Karen ~ Thank you for your comments and for what you do. It takes an angel to live and work in your field. #Blessings

  5. I know it's not the same thing, but I totally can relate to writing about the things that disturb you most, even though you hate them. As an author, for me, I write about death and I've been to many more funerals (even though I'm only 25) than I've been to weddings. I dream about people I know who have died and dread the day when it will happen to me or people I love who are still alive. I know how it feels to come home to a bunch of police men telling you someone you care about and live with is dead. As much as I hate it, I have to write about it because I'm trying to make sense of it and just deal with it somehow.

    It's also why I sometimes write about homelessness and poverty. I've seen it too much and have experienced poverty myself.

  6. I also write the darker side. My novel, "The Sacrificial Lamb" concerns child abuse both physical and sexual in a small town. Yes, I have been abused and repeated the same mistake in a previous marriage causing my children to suffer also. God knows I write from experience and it helps getting the demons out of the closet where most people hide them.

  7. @EB ~ I'm sorry to hear about you loses. I hope your journey serves those that have passed as a shining memorial to how much they meant to you.
    Thanks for dropping by. #Honored

    @JL ~ I am sad to hear how close you've been to the abuse. I hurt for your children and you. As you know, the effects can last a lifetime. Best wishes to you.


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