November 15, 2019

What makes ordinary, good people, protect abusers? What makes someone risk everything – and not protect them?

Sutherland Girl, 57

What do we do when our societal values and norms come into catastrophic conflict with our personal loyalties? If you were faced with a stark choice between right and wrong, but both involved personal loss and shame, do you assume that your moral integrity would lead you to the difficult, but brave and correct choice?

I am tackling the trickiest of taboos, one where we all perhaps voice that ‘pitchfork’ fury – when it is about people we do not know, do not love, are not dependent upon.

We are regularly bombarded with exposés of sexual abuse or predatory behaviours within families and trusted institutions. And, we are so familiar with the revelations of cover-ups and side-stepping that goes on behind closed doors…protecting the abuser(s) and throwing the victims ‘to the dogs’. This fictional, short story explores the issue of actual loyalty when it is pushed to the limit, set against a clearly different outcome in the past.

The Sutherland landscape, rich with deeper metaphors of torn families, also gives us the symbolic courage of the rowan tree. Is it time we explored honest conversations with ourselves, and in the wider chatter, planting these braver notions beside our own front doors?

To Kill A Marten, 2019Short Story