I never planned to write a book like this. I’d never thought I’d go back to that dark place and dredge up the fear, the dread, and the humiliation that form a necessary component of “Breakfall.” But I had to.
Some years ago, when I’d been a prolific member of a fan fiction community, a disturbing trend came about: rape-fics, or “dub-con,” where the victim decided that “s/he liked it after all.” These fantasies hit all kinds of wrong buttons, and after stewing for two weeks, I decided to give the other writers a dose of what it’s really like.
At first, I considered writing a more mainstream, heterosexual couple, but the idea died young. I’m a coward. Writing the victim from a woman’s perspective took me too close to where I’d once been, and it was just too painful. Too harrowing. Filtering all those old feelings through a male character helped, because I had to imagine things I know only second-hand by the virtue of my gender. Not only the physical, but the mental as well.
The fan fiction went over well – the “dub-con” writers turned to rape stories where the bad guy is subdued and the boyfriend rescues the victim. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an overall improvement in attitude.
I’d never figured I’d rewrite this story with original characters and have it published. It was too revealing, it might attract the attention of the perp who’s now out of jail – and it was painful to edit. Yet I had to.
I had to, because decades later, not much has changed when it comes to a sex crime victim seeking justice on a college campus.
Back when I’d been assaulted on campus, I’d called the local police. Only once the local police secured the crime scene and made sure I was okay, they contacted campus security. The security guys showed up in their rent-a-cop uniforms, and proceeded to yell at me for not calling them first on what they called “an internal matter.” I called it a “crime,” not “an internal matter,” and told them had the lock been solid enough, the door wouldn’t have gotten kicked in.
I won’t name the college because it doesn’t matter. They are still one of the top-ten “rape schools,” though, and have been featured in a NYT article for their ineffectual handling of a gang rape of a drunk student just recently. Colleges protect their reputations. It’s important to know that. When this had happened to me all those years ago, I was offered an early graduation. Diploma, departure, no questions asked. It would have been great for me, because I was failing physics. It would have meant not having to make up physics over the summer – yet I stayed. I had unfinished business. There was a perp to catch.
My financee, who’d graduated two years prior, quit his job in the city and moved in with me. He was my comfort and my body guard. He helped me field question from the administration – an administration who tried to make me go home. Some of my fellow students wanted me to leave, too.
I was inconvenient.
The phone was tapped and the house pot dealer’s business began to suffer. Some young women accused me of luring the repeat offender toward them, not realizing that I was just the last in a long string of assaults and the first one to call the police immediately, before the leads grew stale.
Over the years, I kept reading about education programs on rape prevention, and I felt encouraged. It seemed like we were gaining ground. Imagine my dismay, then, when I discovered that my old alma mater is guilty in gently dissuading students from calling the police after an assault by promising them “privacy.” And they’re not the only school that does that.
It’s the school that gets privacy – the internal policies shield it from having to divulge true crime statistics, which misleads potential students and their parents. It also misleads alumni, who are encouraged to donate to the college’s endowment fund on a regular basis. The raised money, in my alma mater’s case, supports a stronger football program. Therefore, it should not surprise me that three football players were exonerated by an internal committee even before the rape test kit results became available, and that the 18-year old woman quit school and went back home, ostracized by her classmates.
I want people to know what to do, and why. The college will never risk a scandal and bring a sexual offender to justice. Call the cops if something bad goes down. It doesn’t matter if you have pot in your room, or a bottle of booze and are underage. That’s secondary, and you’ll talk your way out of that. If you don’t stand up to this bully and stop him in his tracks, you leave him free to assault others.
Unfortunately, “Breakfall” is as relevant today as it had been 20 years ago. The good news is that getting back at your attacker is as therapeutic now as ever. So, don’t be a victim. Fight back!
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Synopsis: Fall Trilogy: Book One
Sexual assault doesn’t discriminate. Aikido instructor Sean Gallaway learns that when he falls prey to a violent stalker. Asbjorn Lund, a karate sensei on campus and a Navy vet, yearns to teach Sean how to survive. How to overcome. How to recover. Sean feels hunted and alone as the stalker escalates, testing his boundaries. With the entire dojo at his back, Sean resolves to play bait. He will catch the predator stalking him and reclaim his sense of self if it’s the last thing he does. Yet Sean’s hunger for justice clashes with Asbjorn’s protective streak, and their budding romance might not survive their war of wills.
Sean didn’t know. He never tried it. Burrows-sensei disapproved of contamination by other martial arts.
“Contaminating aikido by other arts would make it too easy to resort to violence,” he said, repeating the word he heard so many times. “If you are defending yourself, and if your timing is right and you keep the principles in mind, all you have to do is trust the technique to work.”
The response to his rehearsed words was action. Strong arms on his biceps and hips against his hip.
Asbjorn pushed him roughly against the brick wall of the building next to them.
“Do something, Sean.” Asbjorn’s voice was calm.
Sean was pinned.
He curled his wrists in and attempted to raise his arms, but with his hips immobilized, it was impossible to use his whole body. He could not simply curl a man like Asbjorn. Frustrated, he stomped on Asbjorn’s foot.
Asbjorn smiled. “Sometimes, your style will be incompatible with the style of somebody else. You can also be smaller or physically weaker.”
The stubborn set of Sean’s jaw told Asbjorn he tried to resist the impending feeling of humiliation and defeat. Sean said, “You’re saying there’s nothing I can do.”
“No. I’m saying you have to learn a few dirty tricks.”
“I can’t use my hands.”
“You can use your head, though. I’m close enough for a head-butt. If you hit my nose with your forehead, I’ll let go right quick.”
Asbjorn loosened his grip on Sean’s arms and slid his large hands onto the rough surface by Sean’s head. He kept his hips pressed forward, his face buried in Sean’s hair, and seemed disinclined to move.
“Sean.” Asbjorn’s voice was but a whisper.
“What are you doing?”
There was a pause before Asbjorn broke the silence. “I’m wondering that myself.”
About the Author
Just about everything Kate Pavelle writes is colored by her life experiences, whether the book in your hand is romance, mystery, or adventure. Kate grew up under a totalitarian regime behind the Iron Curtain. In her life, she has been a hungry refugee and a hopeful immigrant, a crime victim and a force of lawful vengeance, a humble employee and a business owner, an unemployed free-lancer and a corporate executive, a scientist and an artist, a storyteller volunteering for her local storytelling guild, a martial artist, and a triathlete. Kate’s frequent travels imbue her stories with local color from places both exotic and mundane.
Kate Pavelle is encouraged in her writing by her husband, children and pets, and tries not to kill her extensive garden in her free time. Out of the five and a half languages she speaks, English is her favorite comfort zone.