Rape and Childhood Abuse

As a book reviewer, sometimes you dread opening up a new book. It could be amazing. You always hope for amazing. But more often than not, you find yourself facing the mediocre, or worse, a book that you can barely force yourself to finish. That’s why it’s a relief when I hear that someone wants a book by M.D. Meyer reviewed. To give you just a taste . . .

In The Little Ones, in their first experience as foster parents, Colin and Sarah Hill find themselves caring for the two daughters of the man who sexually abused Colin as a child. Less than six years old, the girls already show the signs of severe neglect and abuse—Emmeline lashes out physically; Verena eats from the garbage like a stray dog.

Chief of Police Colin works to solve a kidnapping, only to begin to suspect that not only is the girls’ father out of jail and back in the remote Native reservation town of Rabbit Lake, Ontario, but that he is also behind the kidnapping. Worse, he’ll do whatever it takes to get his daughters back.

In The Little Ones, Meyer effortlessly weaves together suspense, the contemporary issue of the lasting scars of child abuse, and theology as her characters seek to answer the question “Can God be both merciful and just?”

And after saying just that in a review for Maranatha News, I had the opportunity to write an endorsement for Meyer’s next book—Jasmine.

Eight months after her rape, Jasmine Peters has isolated herself from everyone who loves her. When her childhood friend Andrew Martin returns to the remote Native reservation town of Rabbit Lake, Ontario, after finishing his training with the RCMP, he hopes to ignite the sparks of romance that used to exist between them, but he barely recognizes the woman he finds. She’s gained weight and is filled with fear and anger.

Andrew slowly begins to bring her out of her self-imposed exile, then loses all the ground he’s gained when he has to arrest her father. Unable to face yet another loss, Jasmine’s desperate attempt to escape the pain endangers not only her life, but the lives of Andrew and two others as well.

Although some of the plot twists near the end might be a stretch, I rushed to see what would happen. Meyer had once again tackled a delicate topic with sensitivity and grace. I think Jasmine’s struggle can help woman who’ve been raped know that they’re not alone and that healing is possible.

As the author of five books, M.D. Meyer has never shied away from addressing difficult issues. That’s something that I really respect about her writing. Jasmine was the first in a new series, and now that it’s on sale, I thought you might be interested to know what drives her to also tackle those tough, touchy topics.

MK: You’re not of First Nations’ ancestry. Why did you choose to set this new series in a First Nations’ community?

MDM: I worried about how my books would be accepted by readers since I’m not of First Nations’ ancestry, but I seem to gravitate there. Maybe because I spent the first four years of my life in a First Nations’ community. Maybe because my mom was a foster parent, so the brothers and sisters I spent my days with were First Nations. The Northern lifestyle is familiar to me and comfortable to write about.

MK: Where did you get your inspiration for the plot of Jasmine?

MDM: It actually came in the form of inspiration for a whole series. After attending two Rising Above conferences and leading support groups for people who’d experienced sexual abuse, I thought up the idea of a fictional support group with a separate story for each step in the healing process. The books are short and can easily be read in one week, so my dream is that these books can be used in a real support group for weekly discussions.

My focus for this first book was on the first step in the healing process – telling your story. Jasmine, at the beginning of this book, is very much in denial. I chose the issue of rape to start with because I’d focused on child sexual abuse a lot in my previous books, and I wanted to balance this with the adult sexual abuse.

MK: What research did you conduct to understand what women who’ve been raped go through?

One book that I read was Surviving Procedures after a Sexual Assault. I was also studying a lot about depression and post-traumatic effects. But how could I possibly write with the voice of someone who’s suffered through something I haven’t? I rely a lot on the stories that people tell me of their experiences. As I write their common thoughts and feelings in my characters, my story becomes the story of the thousands who’ve gone through a similar trauma.

MK: Can you give us a sneak preview of the plot of the second book?

MDM: In Lewis, I ask the question, “Why would a young woman leave the security and love of her home to sell her body on the streets?”

MK: What motivates you to tackle such thorny issues in your novels?

MDM: The love of God for a hurting world. As I come to accept that God truly loves me and accepts me, I want that for others too. I want them to know God’s amazing, unconditional, and abundant love.

To learn more about M.D. Meyer and her books, visit her website at www.dorenemeyer.com.