LynneQuisition: Rachel Thompson

Interviews by Lynne CantwellYou may know Rachel Thompson best as RachelintheOC on Twitter, or you may know her through her social media consulting firm, Bad Redhead Media. But Rachel is also an award-winning indie author. She has written two humor books, as well as a book of poems and essays about sexual abuse called Broken Pieces. Rachel has graciously consented to take a seat in the comfy chair and tell us about how she uses activism in connection with her work.

Rachel Thompson
Rachel Thompson

Lynne: Broken Pieces takes on a tough subject — sexual abuse. What prompted you to write it?

Rachel: I had previously written two humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed which had both done quite well on Amazon, hitting #1 on the Humor categories (paid). When it came time to work on my third book, an old boyfriend had connected with me on Facebook and three months later committed suicide. Concurrently, I was dealing with coming to terms with the childhood sexual abuse (at age 11) at the hands of a neighbor dad. Writing another humor book just wasn’t in the cards.

Lynne: I’ve got a traumatic experience or two (or several) in my own past that I expect I’ll write about someday. But many authors shy away from writing about these sorts of things. How would you encourage them to re-think their avoidance?

Rachel: Shame is a big factor, particularly for survivors of sexual trauma. I’ve worked with a number of assault survivors and my message is this: whatever happened isn’t your fault. You have NOTHING to be ashamed of. And if the people around you have a problem with it, that’s their issue, not yours. We all have a right to tell our story. And the next part is crucial: give yourself permission to write the hard stuff. If you can’t do it, I will. It’s okay. Even if you never share it, write it. Nobody is standing over your shoulder telling you, ‘You can’t write that!’ Most people don’t even know or care what we do. They’re too caught up in their own world. So get over yourself and just write already.

Lynne: Thanks! I’m going to try to take that to heart. But let’s talk for a minute about promotion. One (slightly skeevy) advantage to writing about a tough or controversial subject is the ability to use the subject to leverage interest in your book.

Rachel: Well, you have to have a genuine interest in what you write about. I’ve been quietly involved in advocacy for women and children for over twenty years. It’s only now that I published Broken Pieces that I’ve connected with dozens of survivors and have established #SexAbuseChat (on Twitter every Tuesday, cohosted by certified therapist and survivor herself, Bobbi Parish), as well as a private Facebook group only for survivors of CSA (childhood sexual abuse) — male or female. This isn’t therapy — we’re very clear about that. It’s group support only, which can be a safe place for survivors to find support.

To answer your question directly, I think anyone who goes into helping others for the sole reason of selling books will come across as disingenuous. I make it clear that I’m not a therapist and I’m not part of the community to find clients or troll for readers. That is so distasteful. But there are plenty of people out there who do that.

On the other hand, it is possible to open a dialogue in a way that creates interest in difficult topics, so to that end, I have branded my blog as “real life experiences” so blog posts (my own and guests) are about just that. You won’t find fluff and silliness on my author blog (, but you will find fascinating, personal stories at a level of honesty you don’t normally see.

Lynne: Good for you for taking on this important work. Are you working on another book?

Broken Pieces Rachel: I am! Working on the next Broken book, Broken Places, which is about two-thirds of the way written now. I’m setting aside time in August to get it done. Then I’m finishing up Let’s Deconstruct: Social Media for Authors (with my editor Jessica Swift) through my publisher Booktrope. That will be released before Christmas. I’m also working with Bobbi and Athena Moberg on the #NoMoreShame Project, an anthology of survivor stories. We are very excited about this project, the first in a series of survivor projects. More information to come!

Lynne: Looking forward to it, Rachel! Thanks for stopping by.

Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. But she began as a fantasy writer (in the second grade), and is back at it today. She currently lives near Washington, DC. Learn more about Lynne at her blog and at her Amazon author page.

13 thoughts on “LynneQuisition: Rachel Thompson”

  1. Well done, Rachel, the more people speaking out and airing on this subject the better. When society in general shines a light on this subject, no longer turns its back, and there are no shadows, less dark places for perpetrators to hide, then perhaps we can wash it for ever from the human psyche. I attempted to do something similar with my first book, ‘Surviving the Battleground of Childhood’, and consequently take part in public discussion on the subject, particularly incestuous paedophilia, just to help survivors realise they are not the guilty parties, and they are not alone.

    Thank you, Lynne, for bringing us this excellent LynneQuisition, and thank you, Rachel, for shining your light today.

    1. I appreciate your comments and sharing your story as well, T.D. I just read that 93% of childhood sexual abuse victims know their abusers — 93%! Stranger danger is still a concept we have to teach our kids, but that number is staggering to me, how close the danger is.

      Thank you for your kind words and for stepping up to share your story.

  2. I’m with you, Rachel, about sharing our personal stories. I, too, was raped. My book, Risky Issues (a book of four short stories) also deals with the subject of sexual abuse. I think more and more people should be willing to talk about this openly, as our conversations help others in ways we cannot even imagine.

    And Lynne, perhaps one day you will be able to speak about the horrors you’ve faced…

    But if not, that’s okay, too. 🙂 The important thing is loving yourself no matter what. And you obviously have a lot of love in you, because you are continually helping others.

    Thank you. Both of you. You are both two wonderful women!

    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Lorraine and I’m so sorry that happened. It’s so common — I’m not sure people have any idea until it happens to them or someone they know and love.

      Sharing our stories is a wonderful way to take away the stigma and shame — WE did nothing wrong. I’m still amazed at how many people (usually men, sadly) who tell me to ‘stop talking about the past, move on, smile.’ I’m not sure what makes someone tell that to anyone, especially a female survivor! It’s so disrespectful and minimizing. But that’s another post.

      Thank you for your comments and for being brave and honest in your recovery. hugs!

      1. Hugs right back atcha, Rachel! 🙂

        Thanks, too. 🙂 It’s not always easy to talk about it, but I’ve gotten a lot better about it over the last few years. I’ve written about it a lot, too… and since I find writing cathartic, I’m pretty good with things now.

        I still appreciate the kind hugs, though. 😉

  3. Thank you for raising this subject.I have been subject to sexual and mental abuse by the hands of my first husband. He tried to make me think I had imagined some of the things that he said to me. Luckily he said something to one of his friends about the torments he had put me through, then denied it to him. His friend then believed me and I knew I had imagined nothing. I had six protection and exclusion orders against him ( three with powers of arrest), but it didn’t stop him from stalking me or trying to kill me for three years. In that time I was on valium and drank to excess to try and blot it out. The problem is that the whole thing ia reality, and you have to confront it the following day, no matter what you do to put it behind you. Maybe one day I, like you will write about this. I am hoping it can become some sort of therapy for me. To put down on paper exactlly what atrocities he committed against me.

    There are an awful lot of authors with demons that need to be laid to rest. I hope this helped you too

    1. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through and glad you’ve shared it here, redgirl. The ‘nobody will believe’ you story is just one of many ways abusers groom their victims and sadly, we buy into that (for many reasons)…mostly fear for our lives or the lives of our loved ones.

      Writing about it is important because it gives hope to others who, for whatever reason, can’t speak up. I applaud your bravery and encourage you to write a bit each day. I can’t say I found it therapeutic, but it does open up channels in us that we thought were closed. That’s helpful.


  4. I loved this post. It is one of the very best I’ve seen on IU. It boggles the mind what women have survived. Abuse is oft times overt, but covert is worse. It is grand that those who suffered or are suffering abuse of any sort speak up. Today–we listen. I once had a friend who lived ten years in seclusion because of shame. The very best day in our friendship was the day I managed to coax her to a donut shop for coffee. Her entire world brightened after that. She owns her own
    business now. Fear and shame will probably alway be part of her psyche, but she understands now she was preyed upon and in no way invited the abuse. She is a wonderful, caring person. You are all brave women.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: