Friday, October 25, 2013

Against Her Will Presents Realistic Life of Victim in Debut Novel by Peter Martin...

Smoked (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)
Smoked (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Hallo Donna.’ Her voice was soft, her large grey eyes  widening with concern and compassion. ‘I’m Jill  Meadows, Dexford police. Sorry to disturb you, at
 a time like this. I know you need to get some rest
 and its late, but I just wondered if you feel up to
 answering a few questions, about what happened
 to you.’ 
"Donna didn’t answer, she just wanted to be
 left alone. 
‘So how are you feeling?’ Jill asked 
finally. Donna began to weep. The police woman
 reached out to touch her hand, but Donna pulled
 back in a flash. ‘Look, I can see you’re upset. 
You have every right to be. But you’re going to be
 fine, no one can hurt you now. And I promise we’ll
 be working day and night to find the man who did
 this to you. But to do that we need your help. 
I realise how difficult this is, but we need to know
 exactly what happened while it’s still fresh in
 your mind - I believe it could make a huge
 difference. Think you could do that for me?
’ Donna didn’t respond. ‘Please, Donna. I 
appreciate you’ve been through a terrifying
 ordeal, but it’s vital you tell us whatever you
 can. Come on try - for me and all the other
 girls out there, who might be at risk until
 he’s caught.’ 
‘I... I can’t talk about it.’ 
She shook her head rigorously, breathing
 in and out deeply.

Against Her Will

   By Peter Martin

One of the most long-standing dramas on 
television is Law and Order--Special Victims... Most of us are concerned about these victims and like to see the criminals face justice...

But I have not seen or read, until now, a book about the victim--after the criminal is caught. And what if he isn't caught? A life continues, but it may never be the same...

When, however, the victim already has issues from her past that have bothered her, the diagnosis may be much worse.

A young man, Peter Martin, has tackled this subject and has done, in my opinion, an outstanding job. Sure you can fault him for some editorial issues which seem to automatically come in ebooks which mostly I've learned to ignore. After you get lost using today's technology as many times as I have and have to stop and find your place again, then small typos pale in comparison... 

I love the character in the unit who play on SVU,
but the victims usually play a very small role, don't they? That's because, I think, of the sensitivity with which the show is produced. It is not to focus on the criminal act--rather it is to focus on the law and order activity in support of those victims. Kudos to everybody involved in this great program.

I've highlighted this because in Against Her Will, there is no cast of characters to "enjoy." Some at the end will be found. The intent of this novel is to share the "reality" of being abused--mentally, physically, of emotionally. You will see a young girl in a number of situations--first she is kept late at work with the boss finding problems with her work. Sure it was good that he took the time to help her, but why wait until closing time to start? Then he asked if he could give her a lift home...

"They ought to string him up when they catch him,"her dad growled. Her mum sat reluctantly back down in her chair. 'No one's safe out on their own these days.
Makes you wonder what the world coming to.'
‘I’ll kill the bastard, if I ever get hold of him,’ Blake said angrily.
‘Did you get a good look at him, love?’ her mum asked.
"Donna shook her head, her face creased up in pain. She glimpsed Blake moving off his chair to sit on the bed. He attempted to put his arm around her, but the very thought of it made her writhe as if a venomous snake was about to be placed on her shoulder. ‘No, please don’t!’ "Blake’s face dropped. Donna didn’t want to talk yet let alone have any physical contact with him. She wanted him to understand, but wasn’t sure he would.
 "‘Sorry love,’ was all he could say, backing off to his seat.
"Donna, don’t get upset, Blake didn’t mean anything.’
"I don’t want to be touched, mum.’ Finally, she sank back down into her bed, and turned her face away from them.

Let me stop here and describe our young female character--she is tall, blond, beautiful and has been in many beauty contests, won and then moved on to modeling... In other words, she is used to having attention of men. 

NOT every woman wants that... Donna definitely did not...

She was on her way home to be with her fiancee. Instead she was dragged, kicked everywhere, and raped... A gang came along and would not help her... Finally, an older couple found her and helped...There is no need to go over the actual scenes that followed. We know that a beating of a beautiful woman will be seen and gain sympathy from everybody...

Even more so by her parents...
‘I gather ever since then you’ve struggled to cope with life. I hear you broke up with your boyfriend and have had to give up your job as well.’ 
‘Been talking to mommy and daddy have you?’ 
‘Of course I have. They’re extremely worried over you, Donna.’ 
‘Only because of the money.’ 
‘The money they’d make out of me as a model. But I won’t do it, not now not ever. Did they tell you about the photo shoot they tried to force me into?’ 
‘No they didn’t.’ 
‘Well, they secretly arranged for us to bump into old friends of theirs, who just happen to be in the fashion business. They’d already set up a photo shoot with a top photographer behind my back. I couldn’t believe they’d do that.’
‘Well, we need to talk about how to rebuild your life, but I agree they should have asked you first, in fact no one should be forced into  doing something they don’t want to do.’ 
‘I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to go back to work or have a relationship with anyone – because the thought of someone touching me disgusts me. I wish I didn’t have to wake up in the morning, and I wish there was somewhere I could go to get rid of these horrible feelings.’ Tears trickled down her cheeks once more. 
‘There is nowhere like that, my dear. You have so much to be grateful for, lots to look forward to, and most of your life is still ahead of you. How terribly sad it would have been, if you’d succeeded in ending it all.’ 
"Donna thought the doctor seemed genuine, but she had no chance of making her feel better. She could pump her with more pills and give her as much counselling as she liked, but it wouldn’t make a heap of difference. 
‘I don’t want to keep feeling like this. If this is it, there’s no point in living...
But, remember, I said earlier that Donna had never wanted attention to her beauty. In fact, when she was young, her parents, mostly her mother, had forced her to become involved in contests and modelling... She had finally convinced them to let her go to college where she majored in mathematics and was now a Statistical Analyst...

And when Donna shared that she might not be able to go back to her job, her mother made arrangements, behind her back, to "accidentally" meet one of her former talent agents and then arranged a photo shoot...

About that time, I wanted to take that young woman and help her run away from home... And, indeed, that's exactly what she did...

And she wound up placed in a mental hospital...

Some of you who've read my reviews know that I retired early due to job burnout. What I haven't said is that I'm still on medication for that traumatic stress after years. The reason I share this is very simple. There wasn't any action by Donna in this novel that has not crossed my mind. Suicide was a passing thought and quickly found unacceptable; however, I've never been raped. Most of you haven't either. Add that to the pressure of parents who wanted to exploit her body due to its monetary value. Many may rebel at my saying that, and it might not be so harsh in real life; however, I can almost guarantee that not every little girl wants to be placed in pageant after pageant, etc. I know I would never consider that as a career...

When I went on medical leave, I went into seclusion. Fortunately, I was able to do so since I lived alone. It bothered me to see some comments in reviews that Donna was not a likable character. OMG, of course she's not! Who would be in that situation? An individual can feel fine, confront a trigger, and go off, either crying or angry in a second. This mood switch situation was handled quite effectively by the author. On the other hand, he has succeeded in dealing with the issues facing Donna in a sensitive manner that allowed us to recognize that the aftermath of any type of trauma is different for every individual and we must recognize and give that individual "space" in order to find her way back.

Again, here, the author chose an exemplary method to do this, although most who face this situation might not ever have the opportunity as presented to Donna...But I think by using what happened in the way that he did would allow readers to begin to understand how Donna needed to find her own way, even with help...

There was only one situation with which I disagreed with the writer and that was when the psychiatrist alluded to the money she was being paid by Donna's parents.That should never happen, but, of course, it could very well happen exactly like that in today's world! Couldn't it?

Many kudos to the writer for sensitively covering a subject that is very hard for actual victims to talk about. Whether he's had some personal experience with it or not, I do want to attest to his portrayal of what a victim truly goes through, no matter what the trauma has evolved from...

Highly recommended for those...who care... Even though it may not be an enjoyable book to read... The ending is surprising, but still quite satisfactory...


Born and bred in the West Midlands, Martin writes under the pen name of Peter Martin. Against Her Will is his debut novel, and is the story of one young woman's fight to lead a normal life after a horrific rape.

Martin's interests lie mainly in crime, suspense and thrillers. His favorite authors are diverse, including Robert Goddard, R J Ellory, Kate Mosse, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Diane Chamberlain, Harper Lee,Wilbur Smith.

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