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Dear Publication Advisors

How to Write About Sexual Assault

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“Sexual Assault Isn’t Sexy”

Dear Publication Advisors,

How do I write about a sexual assault experience without sounding like a trendy soundbite? Three years ago I was date raped at a party, but I was drunk. I know, because of of #metoo, that being drunk shouldn’t be a strike against my character, but if I hadn’t read all those personal essays, I might still blame myself.

I’d like to write about my experience for publication, but it seems like personal essays on sexual assault are becoming more about the shock rather than the message. How do I write a compelling essay that doesn’t seem trashy?

Sincerely,

Sexual Assault Isn’t Sexy



Dear SAIS,

I can understand your dilemma. Even with the best of intentions, there can be a thin line in our society between entertainment and trauma. When writing about an experience that is both so personal and painful, there are a few points to consider:

  1. Authentic emotion is key. First write without thinking about how the public will perceive your piece. This is incredibly important because the emotion will truly resonate.

  2. Not all publications are the same. Before editing, research several publications that handle the type of situation you’ve described in a way that feels respectful.

  3. Consider a pen name. It may seem like a cop-out, but if it will give you a better night’s sleep, it may be worth it. Keep in mind, not all publications will allow this.

If you are primarily writing for therapy, it may be better to talk with a counselor before considering publication. There’s nothing that says you can’t publish later, but once your name is in print, it’s hard to erase.

Best of luck to you,

Publication Advisor


To ask a question, please email us on our website:

www.PublicationAdvisors.com

Rebecca Lee