Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mandy Trouten, Author

From South Carolina, USA, Mandy Trouten is the author of Maybe Today, a fiction account of assault and abuse during high school. Currently a peer counselor and advocate addressing the trials of bullying and peer abuse, Mandy continues her efforts to inform and educate the public.

Welcome Mandy!

What was your inspiration for writing 'Maybe Today'?

It occurred to me that I would be more successful in getting people interested in peer sexual abuse with a "fictional" book than with nonfiction. It's a general fact that most people only read in-depth about a subject if they're already looking into it. Though I would love to reach other sexual abuse advocates, we account for what appears to be an extreme minority of Americans and I really want to reach everyone else--people who don't think it's that big an issue, or do think it is, but don't think anyone cares or anything can be done about it.

What are the statistics for peer abuse in public schools?

The statistics for peer abuse vary by type. An estimated 1/4 to 1/3 of students are victims of bullying, as it's commonly defined, whether physical or verbal. 48% of teens were victims of peer sexual abuse in the 2010-11 school year. To the best of my knowledge, this does not include dating violence. 25% of teens are victimized on a daily/semi-daily basis. Maybe 10% of students, elementary through college, report the abuse to adults. In my experience, this is because most of the abuse happens where adults can see/hear it, yet nothing is done. Often, when adults do get involved, their actions are weak and ineffective.

Do you focus on 'bullying' or another type of peer abuse?

I advocate against all types of abuse in all age groups, but my focus is peer sexual abuse among teens in school.

As a society, what can we do to help?

Students--victims, perpetrators and bystanders--need to know that someone cares and, all too often, teachers and administrators will sweep abuse under the rug if given even half a chance. Sometimes, this is because they don't know what can be done about it and fear taking a stand against their supervisors at the cost of their jobs; but, other times, it's because they don't want to get involved. I had one teacher in high school who actively encouraged the abuse. In 4 years, not once did any of my abusers get more than a "warning" from the administration. A couple warnings were much stronger and very effective, at least for a couple of my abusers, but they were still warnings. It's tempting to think that mine is an isolated case, but it's not. 

"GGE and a previous survey by AAUW report that 25% of students experience sexual harassment on a daily basis, yet only .3% of schools agreed and 33.6% of schools said it “never happens.”" --excerpt from Shadows of Night 

This in itself says that the majority of schools are not paying attention. While I'll readily acknowledge that some schools are much better about this than others, it's also a safe bet that far more than .3% of schools have a regular problem with peer sexual abuse. The best things people can do are to educate themselves on as much as possible having to do with peer sexual abuse and get involved. I'm not just talking about holding rallies and speaking in schools. I'm talking about "small" things, like speaking out when you witness abuse. Tell the abuser that it's unacceptable, tell the victim that you support him/her and tell the adults in charge what happened. Then, follow up with the victim and, as necessary, the adults in charge. 

What other books have you written?  

I've also written a fiction called Silent Night. It's also about sexual abuse, but is written from the perspective of a young woman in her late 20s. She has recently begun having nightmares about the abuse she suffered in school and is struggling not to let her growing PTSD interfere with her job and life. Not big on clubs and similar social things, she agrees to attend the grand opening party of a local club with a friend/coworker. As it happens, her abuser is also there and he isn't about to leave the abuse in the past. She now has to learn how to stop him or go back to being helpless. In theory, Silent Night will be the next book released, in 6 months to a year.

My current book, Shadows of Night, is non-fiction. This book covers everything/nearly everything you need/want to know about peer sexual abuse in schools.

What are you currently writing?

I'm currently working on an action thriller--a bit outside of my element. I like to read the work of action thriller authors like Iris Johansen, Catherine Coulter, John Grisham and Vince Flynn, but writing it is something else all-together. It has the makings of a good book though. I've got the plot and several of the scenes. Now, it's just a question of writing and naming it. :) 

Who is your favorite author?  

It always depends on when. I love Tori Phillips, Jude Deveraux, Catherine Coulter and Iris Johansen. Of course, another of my favorites is K.S. Haigwood and her Save my Soul series. I love books with a quick plot, a healthy dose of wit, believable/likeable characters, etc. and a minimal amount of smut. I'm largely okay with sex/sexual content, but there's a big difference between pg13 (as it was in recent decades, not now) and X.

On a Sunday afternoon, where would we find you?  

That depends. Some Sundays, I'm at home relaxing--reading, watching TV, working on a book (yes, that counts), etc. Other Sundays, I'm at the office working on websites, my books, other people's books, anti-abuse advocacy, etc.

Connect with Mandy

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