Sister survivor Christine Stark is an extraordinary writer, poet and visual artist. Her new novel, Nickels A Tale of Dissociation, has been nominated for the finalists for the 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards, 2011.
This is a book most immediately for and about abuse survivors, but it should not be limited to that audience in the same way that, say, James Baldwin should not be limited to gay, African American readers. Everyone can relate to the protagonist because although some of her experiences are specific, there are universal themes in the book, including love and joy and play. A lot of writing and activist work around sexual exploitation wants to focus on just the miserable, abusive aspects of the victims/survivors’ lives, but I feel that does a great disservice. It removes agency from those being hurt, and it can stereotype survivors, reducing them to one-dimensional victims such that “victim” becomes everything about them, thus stripping them of their full humanity.
Nickels is an honest portrayal of someone who must fight like hell just to live; but also, at the same time, takes risk to love and be responsible for a mess that was not her own doing but that she cannot escape. That is one of the most unjust things about abuse: the abused must live with, to one degree or another, the ramifications of the abuser’s actions. She cannot be absolved of responsibility, by spending X number of months in a prison, or visiting a religious leader, or doing penance in some other way. The aftereffects are always present, always causing tremendous pain and confusion and distancing, and often poverty, homelessness, depression, and more abuse. There is always hope, and many do get away and heal, but thanks to Post Traumatic Stress, the past becomes present, often at the most misopportune times. Characters and people do heal, so that the trauma lessens and becomes manageable, but it does not happen overnight. Healing occurs over years, and many of those years are very difficult and painful and confusing.
- Aftereffects of Child Abuse Beyond PTSD but not DID (faithallen.wordpress.com)
- HERVotes Blog Carnival: VAWA Reauthorization and Economic Security for Survivors (youngwomenmisbehavin.com)
- PTSD in SURVIVORS: DISSOCIATION – A LIFE OF VIGNETTES (gerryellenson.wordpress.com)
- Christine Stark’s “Nickels”, A Tale of Association (radicalhub.com)
- The Anti-trafficking Movement Needs Survivor Voices: Why Are We Ignored? (secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com)
- The Silent Army (ptsdcreativewriting.wordpress.com)