12 Apr When Your Home Is The Scariest Place To Be
Our latest episode, Smashed Lover, was inspired by research and personal experience, check out it if you’d like further context for this blog post.
A few years ago, I was working on a story about paramedics. I did extensive research: talking to people in the field, reading medical journals, as well as memoirs, and scrolling through news articles. All of it gave me a wealth of information about what it’s like during an emergency call. And in my research, I found first responders said that domestic disturbances were some of the most dangerous calls to answer.
As a first responder, most likely a stranger, you’re entering someone’s house on possibly the worst day of their life.
I’ve witnessed domestic disturbances and it’s no wonder they say it.
They’re moments of visceral passion where loved ones turn on each other in the place that is supposed to be the safest: home.
In my thirty-three years, I’ve listened to relentless yelling between loved ones. I’ve seen them hit each other. I’ve seen fights devolve into one person attempting suicide as the other one tries to save them. I’ve seen people who on a regular basis, calmly pronounce their love for one person in the morning, throw plates at that same person, at night, and tell them they hate their guts. Loved ones telling the people closest to them that they should leave, take nothing, and never come back. I’ve heard people utter death threats to spouses they had spent most of their lives with.
During one argument between a husband and wife that I’d been present for as a kid, I pushed myself between them, trying to stop it, and I was almost accidentally stabbed in the face.
Domestic disturbances seem to be a fear I share with many people in the emergency services.
So, I decided to write a scary story about it.
Of course, I haven’t seen anything as extreme as what we see in Smashed Lover.
But, I’ve always enjoyed stories that terrify me.
And I believe it’s because, in a twisted sense, they make me feel at home.
At the same time, it makes me fear the concept.
When something happens close to home, it’s always the scariest. It’s happening in the place you’re supposed to feel the most comfortable. In a space where you can let your guard down and relax. It’s always a surprise when the person closest to you stabs you in the back, figuratively, or literally.
Even if you saw it coming.
Many people don’t like to read such stories or watch them on TV. It gives them bad dreams or leads them to intrusive thoughts or so I’ve been told.
This brings the question: ‘Why do so many people explore media that might psychologically hurt us’?
It’s a query that I’ve been obsessed with updating the answer to, every time I ask it.
And right now, I believe the reason readers hold these, fictional or non-fictional stories, so near and dear to their hearts is that many of us are trying to harken back to some point in our lives when we felt comfortably uncomfortable.
When we had to survive.
And we’re prepping ourselves with this media, so we can do it again. Or understand our past or the present.
Smashed Lover is not supposed to make you feel at ease that you could find a human-monster sleeping in your bed rather than under it. It’s supposed to get you to talk about it with the people closest to you. Encourage you to chat with your acquaintances. Then your outside support circle. Then strangers. Until enough people are talking about it that someone does something. Just a little positive action can make wonderful changes in the expansive human condition. Even just saying ‘No’ to domestic violence or calling the cops can change someone’s life.
It’s about supporting the abused so they can set boundaries and say, “I won’t accept what is being done to me any longer.”
Whether or not people take this from the story, is ultimately up to them. In the end, this story is no longer mine in a sense, it’s out of my hands, it’s yours.
Simply put, the above answer is why I’d like to believe the majority of writers create stories that explore similar subject matter. So, that, eventually, stories like Smashed Lover don’t need to be told.
But for now, we’ll have to appreciate them as they are, accounts of people struggling to survive danger, and make it out of the situation alive and kicking.
Josh Ackermann escapes his desk job by writing in his free time. One of his short stories, One Helluva Headache, was published in the English Bay Review. He’s currently revising two of his first novels. And he’s is the creator of the Falling For Stories podcast; among many other titles.