I know a man who once threw a meat cleaver at his sister and nearly split her skull open. He regularly beats and intimidates his wife of twenty-five years and cheats on her. He smokes and drinks excessively, gambles, and occasionally leers at young girls.
I am disgusted by the fact that I’m related to this man by blood.
This man almost strangled his own father to death once, belittles his own mother, and his notorious reputation precedes him everywhere he goes. He has very few friends, and is a diehard workaholic. He’s extremely emotionally volatile, probably has an undiagnosed mental condition, and his breath always reeks of stale cigarettes and booze. He owns a very profitable business, two gorgeous homes, is very well-off, and stands to inherit a lot of money. He wants for nothing, and he is the most selfish person I know. He manipulates everyone around him, and he is a villain.
Villains don’t always look the part. This relation of mine is about 5’9″, wears gaudy tees and jeans, sports a beer gut and drives a mini van. He’s got a terrible receding hairline and very thick glasses. Not what you pictured a bad guy looking like, right?
He is the one I call ‘The Masked Monster’. I partially based my character, Thomas Ainsworth, (from VILLAIN) after him. His wife is, you guessed it, my inspiration for ‘The Kept Woman’, a.k.a. Veronica Ainsworth.
Why doesn’t she leave him? The question on everyone’s lips.
The answer? Because she’s got no one and nothing else. She’s a kept woman. One who’s isolated and scared. She doesn’t have a job. She needs someone to finance her expensive tastes and shopping trips. She’s not close with her family anymore, and she’s terrified of what everyone will do or say if she ever tries to leave. She wants to have a nice roof over her head, three square meals a day and designer clothes on her back. She has no college education, and no professional network to rely on. Besides, divorce is looked down upon in her culture, and she doesn’t want to be a laughingstock. Those are only some of the reasons why she stays. Those are some of the same reasons Veronica stays with Thomas.
Why doesn’t my family help her? Because she would rather commit suicide than leave him. Because she worships and loves him. She thinks she has a normal marriage. And her abuser, her husband, is our flesh and blood and we don’t dare betray or humiliate him. Fucked up, right? To make matters worse, just like Veronica, she isn’t innocent either. She’s an abuser, too. She’s terrified me for years, often hysterical, and has too many addictions to count. Her life is complicated and damaged to say the least.
When I began writing VILLAIN, I wasn’t sure how the plot would unfold. But some things I definitely wanted to include were the themes of: domestic violence, sexual assault and betrayal between family members.
Domestic violence is an issue that is very close to my heart, and something that affects millions, if not billions of people worldwide. I tried to make my writing as factually accurate and realistic as possible, and did a lot of research related to the subject. Though my novel is heavily sensationalised, and some aspects, overly dramatised, the issues remain the same.
Sometimes, we share a roof with the ones who hurt us most. If a stranger or even an acquaintance abuses or assaults you, you can leave, report it, seek help. But what if the aggressor is your own father? Mother? Husband? Wife? Uncle? Sister? This is the muddy area I wanted to tackle with my novel. There are no right answers when it comes to handling sexual assault and domestic violence, especially between family members. The world exists in gray. I’ve seen it firsthand.
That Masked Monster I referred to earlier? I’ve seen him beat his wife only to buy her gorgeous jewelry the next day. Seen him throttle and mentally destroy his son, only to take him on vacation later. Seen him smooth over old wounds with buttery platitudes, and seen him charm and weasel his way back into the hearts of everyone I know. I don’t buy his bullshit, and I see through his ruse. Thankfully, he has no power over me, and I don’t have to live under his roof.
Not everyone is so lucky, though.
VILLAIN is dedicated to every man, woman and child who’s ever had to suffer at the hands of someone they loved, and thought loved them.
That’s why I wrote this book. Learn more about latest novel here.
“I wish I’d spoken up to someone, anyone, about the things he did to me. But my silence, my obedience, fueled him, until his power became too great. Each time I chose to stay, each time I chose to swallow my suffering, I gave him permission to do it all over again. So he did.” (Villain, Chapter 5)
What is Domestic Violence?: http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/
Why do people stay? http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/why-do-people-stay-in-abusive-relationships/
Speak Up. Seek Help.
United States : National Domestic Violence Helpline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Website: http://www.thehotline.org/
Canada (Crisis Hotlines listed by province): http://www.dawncanada.net/issues/issues/we-can-tell-and-we-will-tell-2/crisis-hotlines/
United Kingdom: National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247
Australia: National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service: 1800 737 732