I want to introduce you to Darryl. He’s 28 years old, a trainee psychiatrist living in New York City. He grew up in The Hamptons and had all the trappings of a privileged lifestyle. He received all the emotional and physical nurturing a child could ever need. After the loss of their parents Darryl’s much older sister gave him the same loving, rewarding, disciplining, and supporting care as her own children and Darryl grew up with his eldest niece and nephew but they were more like a brother and sister to him. Faith ensured Darryl never missed out on anything but she respected their bond as siblings, she never tried to replace their parents and she never let the little 6 year old orphan inside forget his mom and dad.
Darryl hasn’t seen Faith in 7 years. They argued over the secrets she kept and the lies she told and they haven’t spoken since. But he loves his sister, her grace, her strength and her wisdom beyond her years. She’s the most amazing person he knows. She’s magic. She can walk into chaos, snap her fingers and create order. She makes the world a better place just by being Faith. She gave up her dreams to take care of him and who knows where he may have ended up if she hadn’t? So, to this day, he doesn’t understand her betrayal. They never kept secrets from each other.
8 weeks ago the police knocked on his door looking for Faith. His sister and the two youngest children left for a shopping trip. They never arrived at the mall and they never returned home either. Her husband and older children are very worried. But today, Darryl has received a letter from Faith. There are no more secrets, no more lies, only the truth. He knows EVERYTHING. Why didn’t he see what was happening? Didn’t he live with them? Why didn’t he know? Maybe he could have protected her…
Recently in the UK, couple were convicted of murdering their daughter. Their motive were claimed to be because her western lifestyle brought shame on their religion and therefore it is branded an ‘Honour Killing’. Personally, I agree with detective in charge of the case. Murder is murder pure and simple. Don’t glorify it! In this particular insistence, the girl endured years of abuse by her family for her life choices.
Domestic violence: We all know this world exists. We all hear of the horrific tragedies that hit the media. But it’s a world we don’t talk about. A world with the terms: Don’t ask, Daren’t tell.
In the US, women are attacked about six times more often by someone they’ve had an intimate relationship with than male violent victims, and 30% of all female homicides in the US were known to be killed by their husbands, former husbands or boyfriends. And in the UK 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their life time and over two are killed each week by their current or ex partner. With similar reports across the commonwealth it’s likely YOU KNOW SOMEONE AFFECTED BY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
I know I do.
I thought I only knew one person with an abusive past. I didn’t realise how many people I knew until I wrote the words ‘The End’ in a manuscript that had completely sidetracked me from my current work in progress. My character, bless her, she whispered to me for a couple of weeks and I resisted. Her world was somewhere I didn’t want to go… you know it was one of those ‘Don’t ask, Daren’t tell’ kind of stories. One I didn’t want to face, or even talk about. But she fights for even the smallest of victories and one night she won. She said something and I had no choice but to pay attention. Two weeks later I was sending out the completed manuscript. The response was phenomenal.
But what is more overwhelming is the number of people who have opened their healed past to share their stories with me. And I’m not just talking readers. When I explain Faith’s story to anyone, the number of people who have told me they were once in my characters shoes is… well, for the number of people I’ve come into contact with in my day-to-day life it]s far too many. There are many more people affected by domestic violence than you realise.
Faith is Darryl’s sister. He grew up believing in the American dream, loving families and happily ever after with no idea of the true depth of his sister’s marriage because that was what Faith wanted him to have. It’s what she wants all her children to have (although she tries harder to achieve this goal more than anything else she isn’t successful). Like many women in her situation Faith suffers alone, and in silence. She hides from the truth. She covers it up. She lies. She denies it, even to herself. For this man loves her, he will change for her.
“Faith” is also your boss’s wife. “She’s” your next door neighbour. “She’s” the goddaughter of an acquaintance you may see frequently. “She’s” the Mum of a kid who plays on the same football team as your kid. “She” plays tennis with you at the local club. “She” could be your colleague, your aunt, your cousin, your sister, your niece, your grandmother, your mom, or even your friend and she’ll never say a word.
Do Ask, let’s build the courage together … It’s time to end the silence.
Coming October 2012 – Tainted Love: The Faith McKenzie Story