1. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    What's the best way to write my abused character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Annie Mae, May 13, 2017.

    So, I am writing a cliché ass book (because I love clichés) and I was wondering, how do I write a character that's physically and mentally abused? I might have Gemma get raped in my story... but I'm not 100% sure yet.

    Gemma Elizabeth Michaels is a 17 year-old high school student in Fort Haven, Washington (made up town). Her dad died when Gemma was ten years old and her mom got remarried when she was fourteen. They all thought Chris was a good man and they were proud he got through his abusive past, but they didn't realize he hadn't. Chris Owens threatens Gemma and Lea (Gemma's mom) that if he found out either one of them were remotely near the police station, he will find a way to severely hurt one or the other, starve them, and hide them away from the world. He tracks them using their phones and if they leave it at home, like Lea for example, Chris beats Gemma black and blue... where no one can see unless she's in her underwear or swimsuit around someone. Because he refuses to feed the family, Gemma is quite thin but Chris calls her a fat whore, pig, and other crude names.

    What are some personality traits that Gemma Michaels should have?
     
  2. QueenOfPlants

    QueenOfPlants Active Member

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  3. Odile_Blud

    Odile_Blud Active Member

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    I don't think there are any absolute personality traits that an abused person might have because people tend to react to situations differently. One person's reaction to their abuse may be different from another person's. My advice would be to look at your character and ask yourself what kind of person she is and how you think she may react to her abuse. However, common clues that someone may be abused by their significant other is they tend to not talk about it (which is reasonable, because they're more than likely afraid to do so). She may cover herself a lot in order to hide her scars. She may become distant. Self esteem may be low. Loss in interest. Depression. They may even start using drugs or alcohol.

    Here is a link to a site about signs of abuse in a relationship: https://www.verywell.com/signs-someone-is-being-abused-66535

    Not that I'm saying your idea doesn't work, but I'm just curious about your execution. How come they need him in order to be fed? What keeps them from getting food on their own?
     
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  4. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Thinking... Supporter Contributor

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    Fear ( the hide and feel like you are gonna have a heart attack kind).
    Withdrawn and fairly quiet.
    Avoids confrontation, and abhors it to some degree.
    Possible PTSD dependent on trauma.
    Reclusive or keeps to themselves out of fear.
    Denial and or lying to cover up the reality.

    Though I am not too sure why some women feel they
    have to be in abusive relationships. That one has baffled
    me for quite some time. Must be that 'bad boy' being
    sexy thing, and then it escalates. IDK.
     
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  5. QueenOfPlants

    QueenOfPlants Active Member

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    Many abusers don't seem bad in the beginning. Many seem sweet and lovely at first. It starts slowly.
    And they often have victims with self worth issues. The kind of people who have been told they are worth nothing and will never been loved by anyone from their childhood on. Such a person desperately holds onto the relationship because they think it's the best they can get.
     
  6. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Thinking... Supporter Contributor

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    Then I must be a real bad guy for telling every gal I have been with
    to leave me if I become an unbearable jerk. (Though I hope to never be that guy ever.)
     
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  7. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    He is controlling and keeps all of the money, so he can only buy the food and since he's controlling, he locks the food in the pantry. The only thing they can get freely is milk, juice, and water, sometimes fruits and vegetables. When Chris was younger, his family was poor and they didn't have a lot of money to get food and his father (who was abusive) refused to get food stamps. So whenever they had food, Chris got very protective over it because he didn't eat a whole lot. So, because of his past and because he was so use to doing so, he keeps the food to himself.
     
  8. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I think that you need to detail all three characters, including, and perhaps especially, Lea. Lea has the power to end the abuse--why doesn't she? Yes, I know that many women don't leave abusive men, but that fact isn't enough--why doesn't THIS woman leave THIS abusive man, and protect her child from that man? For many women, part of it is the fact that the man is the father of their children and would therefore get unsupervised custody time, but he's not Gemma's father, so that's not a factor.

    Or is Lea a party to the abuse? Does she really get abused, or is Gemma essentially serving as her human shield? That's a dynamic that happens fairly often.
     
  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    But that's not enough of a motivation for a person who's this deeply abusive. (Edited to add: I'm not saying that you need a coherent explanation. I'm just saying that it may be better to leave causality for the abuser a bit fuzzy, than to say that Chris became this way "because" of some very specific thing.)
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
  10. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    Well, as a (cue the worlds smallest violin) victim of abuse; you tend to become silent, insular and have no sense of your own self worth. You become tied to the abuser, in that all that you are is dictated by them, not in an active sense, but in a passive sense, like you have just given up. Then you grow up and punch back, but those years when they have control have a lasting impact.
     
  11. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    I pulled up a chair for this, lmao; but Lea doesn't leave because 1: he has everything of hers. Like, her mom's wedding ring that she gave her when she died, her old wedding ring from her past relationship, her old husbands clothes, a letter that Gemma's dad wrote for her for when she turns 18, her old wedding dress, pictures, and everything that she holds close to her heart from when she was married to William Michaels. He made ten years of her life amazing and she feels that if she were to leave all of the things he once had, she would forget about the great life that she once lived. Lea knows that her relationship isn't healthy but he controls every bit of her life. Now, I know she could tell her co-workers at the hospital but she is scared because of the threats he has been telling her. 2: she doesn't posses the strength to tell anyone because Chris has threatened Lea that he will take Gemma's life. Lea, now, is worried that if she ever told anyone, somehow, Chris will find Gemma either at home or pull her from school and kill her, not a quick death either. Chris had told Lea: "You don't want to put your daughter's life on the line just because you're selfish, right?" She wants to leave but she can't because Lea is petrified for her daughter's life.

    Now, for Chris, I am still trying to completely figure him out. So far, what I have put together for him is that he has tremendous PTSD. His step-dad was abusive, his mom left (which is why he has severe trust issues because she left him at a time of need), but his step-dad wasn't abusive towards his blood kids, he spoke very kindly to them. Now, what I have planned for Chris Walkers is that he has trust issues and he doesn't want Lea to leave him life his mom did; and because of his and is dads relationship, he became abusive to Gemma, because that's all he knows. I am still trying to figure him out though.
     
  12. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Thinking... Supporter Contributor

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    Not every one who is abused, grows up to be an abuser.
    (Though I abuse myself like it were an Olympic sport.)
    So it seems there is a learned/perceived way of finding

    love in the negative aspect of how they were treated
    and as a result your Chris character is only reinforcing
    that negative relationship, when in reality it is only
    tearing him apart inside. As well as refusing to see
    that he is doing it subconsciously due to the fact that
    it is something that he does not understand he is doing,
    despite the fact of whether he knows it is right or wrong.
     
  13. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    I'm not sure I agree. If you are abused you tend to recognise you have those genes, and the choice as to whether you want to continue them is overriding. You not only question whether you have inherited the propensity for violence, you question whether you want to continue it. You often decide not to.
     
  14. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    The above doesn't give me any sympathy at all for Lea. To choose those objects above her daughter is not a sympathetic choice. Now, plenty of people choose plenty of things above their children. But I still wanted to make the comment.

    This is the only motivation of Lea's that gives me any sympathy for her. But the fact that the first paragraph above is even an issue drains that sympathy.

    I'm not sure if it's really possible to apply logic to an abusive person like this. I realize that I effectively suggested that you do so, but someone like this is, IMO, fundamentally broken--I'm not sure if there's any coherent "because". Except, maybe, some sort of "because" that keeps that person from developing the basic foundations of empathy.
     
  15. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Annie Mae - Just a question, because I'm not quite sure. Is Gemma your POV character?
     
  16. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    yes
     
  17. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That is an incredibly good link. I've just spent nearly two hours on it!
     
  18. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    Yes, I know that takes sympathy away for Lea but my goal for my readers is that, yes, they feel sad for her because Chris has threatened to take her daughter's life but at the same time, I want them to be upset that she even slightly thinks about staying because of personal objects. I want the readers to feel conflicted about Lea and her reasoning.
     
  19. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    thank you so much!
     
  20. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    Chris does realize that he doesn't need to be the abuser like his dad but it gives him the feeling of dominance and just downright power. Not only does he get to finally control his own life but he gets to control others.
     
  21. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I would have a great deal of trouble having any sympathy for Lea. I suspect I'm a minority, but that would be my take on it. However, do I even need to have any sympathy for her? As @jannert asked, who is the main character?
     
  22. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    It's late here and just to make sure I am actually understanding what you've said... you're saying that Chris is subconsciously abusing because he took the negative aspects of his parents relationship and using it for his own?
     
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  23. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    The main character is Gemma, but as for any book, you need to feel a tinge of something for each character. Even if you don't realize you are either upset, sad, happy, or grossed out by a character's decision, you should get the smallest bit of feeling towards a character. As for Lea, even though she doesn't occur in the novel as much as Gemma, Grayson, or even Chris, I want the readers to feel the smallest bit of something towards her. Even if it is just resentment.
     
  24. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'd feel a very strong "What the bleep is wrong with you?!" toward her. But the question of her worrying about her possessions would lean that very strongly to the negative. If that were removed and her motivation were all about Chris's threats, that would remove a lot of the negative. I'm not saying negative is bad, I'm just saying that I think that you have a choice there, to decide how negative the sentiment goes.
     
  25. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    true, true, I'm not arguing with you at all (btw), I'm just trying to understand your point; and yes, that does make sense. I'm just trying to figure out, how much do I want the characters to care for Lea? Do I want to add her possessions into the mix and make sure she just keeps the letter if she were to escape her relationship with Chris? Or do I want the readers to feel sympathy towards Lea and get rid of her worry about the objects that mean a lot to her? That's what I'm having a hard time deciding.
     

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