Don’t try to tell me a story about a life characterized by the lack of safety. Tell me a story about a life defined by the presence of fear.
What’s there in somebody’s life when their safety, their freedom, their hope and trust are all gone? It’s not just gaps waiting to be filled when everything comes out right in the end. It’s not just a void.
The absence of safety is the presence of fear. The absence of freedom is the presence of rules, the constant litany of must do this and don’t do that and a very very complicated kind of math beneath every single decision. The lack of love feels like self-loathing. The lack of trust translates as learning skills and strategies and skepticism, how to get what you need because you can’t be sure it’ll be there otherwise.
You don’t draw the lack of hope by telling me how your character rarely dares to dream about having better. You draw it by telling me all the ways your character is up to their neck in what it takes to survive this life, this now, by telling me all the plans they do have and never once in any of them mentioning the idea of getting out.
c-is-for-circinate’s post about writing abused characters.
“There are a lot of abuse and recovery stories out there in fandom. A lot of them are written by people who’ve never been in an abusive relationship. That’s fine, that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t write it, especially when it’s present in canon. Unfortunately, it does mean that a lot of people get it wrong."