Author M.V. Kasi
Writing about something as sensitive as child sexual abuse! How did you research about its after effects and how difficult was it to sketch your protagonist around it?
Writing about Sia, an adult child sexual abuse survivor had been one of the most difficult and emotional journeys I've ever made. Not having had any personal experiences, I had to rely totally on my empathy to try and get everything close to what an actual survivor would feel and do under the circumstances. I hope I was able to do justice while portraying Sia's actions, her reactions, her internal battles and also her ability to survive.
During my research, I have read many accounts of survivors, who have been told repeatedly by well meaning friends and family members, to simply forget and forgive the past. But sadly, it is not that simple. Because there are several long term after-effects that survivors suffer from.
One of the long-term effects is to numb out any kind of emotions to avoid feelings that could possibly trigger the memories of past abuse. That was a pivotal characteristic of Sia. She comes off as cold and aloof. She had become that way because, during her childhood, someone she loved and trusted, abused her. And when she had tried telling some adults about it, no one believed her. Due to which she stopped trusting her own feelings. And to cope with the pain, she also learned not to feel the very things that made a person feel alive.
Another effect that I touched upon and is surprisingly common among most of the survivors is to have Repressed Memories, especially in incest survivors. It is another form of coping mechanism to be able to suppress the painful memories of abuse. In 'Soulless', Sia completely loses the memories of her childhood until an event triggers them back. And during her teens, even though Sia didn't recall the abuse memories, she still felt the trauma, and decided to numb out her feelings via various addictions such as alcohol, drugs and sex. Dr. Patel, her therapist explains it by saying that the unconscious mind always operates in present tense. And when earlier memories are lost in the unconscious, they are preserved as though whatever trauma has happened is still ongoing.
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), anxiety, depression, lack of self-esteem and need for control—are some of the other effects I had touched upon and incorporated in Sia's story.
Having said that please be aware that as a fiction writer, I have taken some liberties with the narration of this story. In a real world situation, an individual who had suffered through abuse might not act exactly in the manner depicted in the book.
About the Author
By day, MV Kasi works for a software company. She currently lives in Hyderabad, India with her husband and son. By night, she gives in to her fascination to explore the human psychology and the various facets of life in her writing. She has particular fascination with successful people who are not considered 'normal' by society's standards.
Her love for reading has led her to start writing on her own. She likes to add depth to her characters and explore their psychological motivations. Due to the nature of topics and plots, she does not shy away from writing about sexuality or violence. Despite covering some heavy topics, she likes to infuse humor into her writing.