Western Carolina University – Sexual Assault Survivor Finds Therapy While Writing Novels


Maddie O’Shine was around 9 when she was first sexually assaulted and 11 when it finally ended. Her post-traumatic stress disorder continues to this day.

Now 19 and a freshman at Western Carolina University, O’Shine, a pseudonym, wrote a modern fantasy, “Reverie,” which examines sexual assault through the eyes of a teenager – O’Shine is a woman – set in 2047 a fictional country. She started the book at 16 and finished it last fall. “I have been writing since I was 11 years old. It was actually the coping mechanism that I developed from my childhood sexual assault. It went from a coping mechanism, where I jumped into worlds that had nothing to do with our world, to an art form that fascinates me and that I want to pursue as a career, ”he said. she declared.

In addition to sexual assault, the book talks about homophobia – O’Shine is pansexual – but does not describe traumatic events. “I know firsthand how horrible reading can be,” she said. “But the subjects come from experiences in my own life.”

The book, which O’Shine has self-published and is available at Amazon, follows Matthew, an 18-year-old boy who was kidnapped at 15 by a sex trafficking ring and held captive for two years before escaping. O’Shine wanted to show how he comes to terms with what he’s been through, how he deals with his PTSD, “which never goes away completely,” she said, and how he begins to grow and recover from his experience. “The idea is that he can’t heal on his own, but no one else can do it for him,” she says.

Why would a man lead instead of a woman? “I wanted ‘Reverie’ to be something that most people could relate to. The majority of sexual assault survivors are women. I wanted them to read “Reverie” but not compete with this sexually assaulted female character. I didn’t want them to say, “Well my PTSD isn’t as bad as his, so I have to pretend. If it’s a male character, I think they would have an easier time connecting.

Although the book is considered modern fantasy, there are also elements of magic that aid in its healing. “It’s because I wanted the magic of nature to correlate with its growth, there is growth in nature and recovery in nature. It’s a big chunk of symbolism, ”she said.

Writing the book helped O’Shine cope with her own trauma, she said, and the numbers prove it. While in therapy as a teenager, O’Shine was tested for PTSD, with a scale of 1 to 80. “Anything over 40 is severe post-traumatic stress disorder. At 16, I scored a 72. I took it last year, about two years after I started “Reverie”, and I scored a 57. It’s a big leap. ”

O’Shine, from Raleigh, is majoring in hospitality and tourism, a shift this semester from psychology, and a minor in creative writing. “My intention was to become a PTSD therapist, but I have a lot more passion for travel. I want to work for Disney because my best memories, the happiest times of my life are at Disney and I want to help other people make it happen, get that happiness. ”

April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, O’Shine said she experienced a few moments that panicked her, proof to her that PTSD was still near. “Some boys from TikTok had declared April 24 national rape day and declared it a day for committing acts of rape and assault. Obviously it is horrible and it has terrified a lot of women in the United States, ”she said.

But she also believes in healing trauma and hopes her book will help others. She wants other victims of sexual assault to know that things are improving. “There is always a way to recover and it’s not the end of the world. Your life is not over because of what you have been through, ”she said.

In fact, O’Shine is working on a second book on sexual assault called “Rarely Lie Actions”. It will also be self-published and should be available in August, also through Amazon. Learn more about her journey on Instagram at @ maddie.oshine.

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