When Americans read the headlines about Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, and Chris Brown, domestic abuse seems more like a Hollywood plot than a real issue experience by “regular” people. But the number of non-celebrity people in the U.S. who are intimately familiar with the issue of domestic abuse tells a true and tragic story:
- One in four women in the U.S. has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime, according to the Center for Disease Control.
- According to a Harris Poll, 60% of Americans personally know someone who has experienced domestic abuse.
- The Bureau of Justice Statistics says that women between the ages of 20-24 are most likely to be the victim of nonfatal intimate partner violence. One in three teenagers say they know someone who has been punched, kicked, choked, or physically hurt by their romantic partner.
- More than 2 million people call domestic violence crisis lines or hot lines every year
Domestic abuse seems to be the issue that almost everybody knows about, but almost nobody talks about, unless it is the lead story on Entertainment Tonight.
Nobody knows this better than Tara Taylor Quinn, a best-selling author who writes about romance and true love for a living, and who is, ironically, a former victim of domestic abuse. When Tara was approached by HCI Books to be the author of a True Vows Reality-BasedTM Romance novel, she knew it was time to tell her own true love story.
In writing It Happened on Maple Street, Tara was revealing her personal experience with domestic abuse for the first time – not just to her romance fans, but also to her friends and family. She wrote It Happened on Maple Street partly to encourage other domestic abuse victims to tell their own stories, and partly to inspire others like herself to believe that true love is still possible.
In the blog post that follows, Tara Taylor Quinn reveals the series of events that caused her to finally break through deep denial in order to admit to herself that she was, in fact, a domestic abuse survivor. From this breakthrough, a happy-ever-after ending became possible in the real life of a romance author who focuses her attention every day on stories about love.
From Tara Taylor Quinn…
My first personal contact with domestic abuse was when my daughter joined the domestic violence advocacy group in law school. The group did fund raisers to help local shelters. I contributed.
The group made holiday stockings for the children housed in local shelters. I contributed.
My daughter was re-vamping an old and outdated resource list for victims of domestic violence. I listened to her lament. And when she became president of the advocacy group, I listened to a whole lot of things. I encouraged. I contributed. I applauded her choice to help. And I wondered why she chose domestic violence as her community service contribution. I wondered why I related to the choice so personally. I’d only witnessed domestic abuse once in my life and it wasn’t against me.
And then Tim Barney, my very first boyfriend, the first boy I’d ever kissed, came back into my life. He’d broken my heart twenty-seven years before. He claimed that I’d broken his. (You’ll have to read the book to find out who really broke who’s heart.)
One of the first questions Tim asked when he came back into my life was ‘what happened to you?’ The question wasn’t referring to the recent past, but to a time in 1980 – the last time we’d seen each other. I’d changed. Drastically. He wanted to know why. I immediately closed my mind to any images that surfaced from that year and the two years following. I sidestepped the question. He continued to ask. And then to push. I told him that was something I didn’t talk about. Ever.
Tim offered me the love I’d always wanted. But he required something that I didn’t give. All of me. He required that I look at all of me. That I deal with all of me. That I accept all of me. He required that I look at my past, talk about it. And when, in a hotel room alone with him, I did what he asked, when I looked back and spoke of things I’d become adept at avoiding, he required that I face the truth. I was a victim of abuse.
You see, in my mind, I didn’t have to be an abused partner because I bore no seeable physical bruises. I never had a black eye or a swollen mouth or cheek. I never had bruises around my neck or on my back or arms. I wasn’t one of ‘those’ women. I didn’t have to bear the stigma. The shame. What had happened to me wasn’t something that would stick with me forever. Or brand me. I’d had a two year incident and I’d moved on.
No, I was worse than the brave women who face abuse, call it what it is, and deal with it. I was a woman who’d turned my back on myself. I’d been hideously mistreated and I’d blown it all off – because, after all, it was all my fault. He told me I was to blame. Again and again.
He even went so far as to tell me that what he did to me was what I wanted. And while I knew, to the bottom of my soul that that last part was not true, I took the rest upon myself. I didn’t stand up for me. I didn’t defend me. After all, why had this happened to me while other women lived normal lives? I must have asked for it in some way, must have done something to single myself out.
If nothing else, I’d chosen him. That was my doing. My fault. I was a traitor to myself. I accepted the blame and never told a soul anything about those two years.
Until Tim. He sat with me. Held me. Cried with me. And he continues to stand with me, to force me to fight my demons rather than to give in to them. He gave me a couple of images – me in the middle of the road letting others drive over me. Or me, standing up, healthy and happy. Anytime I start to give in to the demons, he reminds me of the flat me in the middle of the road.
As life would have it, shortly after Tim’s re-advent into my life, Harlequin Books, my publisher since 1992, invited me to write a novella about the life and work of Sandra Ramos, founder of the nation’s first battered women’s shelter, Strengthen Our Sisters. And shortly after the publication of that anthology (proceeds of which went to Strengthen Our Sisters) I was asked to write a four book cross-over series for Harlequin Superromance and MIRA books.
The first one, The First Wife, (Harlequin Suprromance, 9/10) was the case of a wife having to testify against her bigamous husband. He was on trial for murdering wife number two. My heroine, a strong, confident, highly successful magazine editor, was being called by the prosecution to testify as a character witness against her then ex-husband. She didn’t understand why. He’d been unfaithful to her, but he’d never abused her. But there were these mysterious police reports. About accidents that had taken place at her marital residence.
A very close writer friend of mine read a part of the book, looked up at me, and said – this sounds like you. Her words shocked me. But I couldn’t deny them. They hung there, ugly and heavy…and true. I hadn’t made the connection.
Tim was standing right there when she made the proclamation and that’s when all that he’d been saying really hit home. I was a victim of domestic abuse. And I’d spent almost thirty years in denial.
It was only days later that HCI Books approached me with an invitation to write my own true love story. The story of the healing power of love. That story, It Happened On Maple Street, will be out in April, 2011. Maple Street is where I fell in love. And Maple Street is where I came back home to that love. I came home to a love that was so real and true it waited twenty-seven years for Tim and I to find it again.
It Happened On Maple Street is a book about life. And about the truth of love. Love is real. Everlasting. And strong enough to heal anything.
It Happened on Maple Street, the Reality-Based Romance novel based on the true love story of Tara Taylor Quinn is scheduled for release in April, 2011. Register for “Maple Street” updates and you may Win-A-Kindle.
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Personal Notes from Tara Taylor Quinn…
This post is brought to you as part of The Chapman Files International Blog Tour. Please join us in our fight against domestic abuse. We’re hosting a charity skate/walkathon on December 4th in Phoenix, Arizona. If you can join us, we’d love to have you. Tim and ttq are skating and we’re going to have a blast. If you aren’t going to be in the area, you can still sponsor us. Please. In our downed economy domestic abuse has risen and the monies to help have dwindled. To register for the skate, or to donate any amount to the cause, click www.predatorspeed.org/, or go to www.tarataylorquinn.com/ and click donate.
Don’t miss The Chapman File tour party on December 4th at http://www.eharlequin.com/! We’re giving away a KOBO e-reader and many other cool prizes! All you have to do to be entered to win is leave comments on this blog tour!
Next tour stop: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 – the Barbara White Daille Blog. We hope to see you back here! The more blogs you visit with us, the more chances you have to win! Every time you comment your name is dropped in the bag for the prize drawings.