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The Broken Spiral: Short Stories for Healing by R.M. Clarke (Ed.)

Writing.ie | Magazine | Anthology | Interviews

By R.M. Clarke

How do we decide what to believe? Is it the way words link together in a sentence spoken, how the words are sounded out? Is it the way words are plucked from the great tangled pile of possibility and arranged in the correct order of meaning so as to convince, to cajole, to persuade? What makes some words more believable than others?

The work of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is built upon belief. Belief is necessary in an organisation that, since their state funding was cut after Ireland’s economic collapse, must go above and beyond to not quite make ends meet. It is necessary when they continuously, tirelessly, lobby for change in government policy, in media and broadcasting guidelines, in social reform, even when their work to change beliefs founded on ignorance and fear is resisted time and again. At the deepest and simplest level, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre works with belief by offering it to the thousands of people who walk through their doors each year; who use their helpline; who they accompany to court; who they counsel at the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit at the Rotunda Hospital. At the core of everything they do is the phrase that in its simplicity has the power to heal the decisions made at every level of our society against trusting the words of rape and sexual assault survivors: ‘I believe you.’

The Broken Spiral is an anthology bound by writers who believe in the work of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. United by a single theme, ‘the long and winding road back’, a cohesive collection has come together that is united by what is fundamental to us all: being heard and believed and accepted for all of who we are, wherever we are in our lives. Stripped back to the bones of things, these powerful stories outgrow old names and choose new ones in their place, assigning new meaning to a new identity on the other side of survived trauma. In this way, The Broken Spiral is an anthology which seems to emerge from the shadow of a dark dream, from a needling, haunting sense of unease and that memories that recur again and again, into the pockets of light that point to another way, a way that is not defined by trauma, but instead acknowledges it and grows from it, forging a route out of the labyrinth.

The broken spiral, the symbol of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, is emblematic of the winding, re-winding, and often circuitous journey towards healing that many survivors of trauma face. But through the redemptive power of the stories in this collection, The Broken Spiral anthology aims to bring hope to the reader, and rest; to re-establish a belief that coming out from under the shadow of trauma is possible. What the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre does when it offers belief to so many who come to their doors in search of it, is to give – when it seems impossible, or even terrifying – the gift of connection, which is another word for love. Over and again through the stories in this anthology, love shows up as the glue that holds everything – shakily, precariously, threatening to collapse – together. Love is the flint of light that leads the way out.

Whether it is on a local Dublin radio station, or on the most looked upon podium of the world stage, some who possess the biggest public platforms continue to spout untruths, so far from love, that have underpinned social beliefs and legislation for too long. In Ireland, as abroad, we still persist for our rights to bodily autonomy and to be heard, to be believed, when we repeat, quietly, our voices bowing at the edges, that we did not ask for this. This is a collection in aid of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, but the work that this organisation does extends far beyond what is so often perceived as ‘just’ a woman’s issue. It is about injustice at a fundamental level regardless of gender, class, or race; or any of the categories used to divide us. It is about how to tip the balance back towards equality, so we are heard loud and clear, and believed, without qualification; whoever we may be.

It seems impossible to believe that this is a conversation that still must be had, that these are truths that must still be enunciated, loudly and clearly and persistently. It is a conversation that so many of us are tired of, but we will continue to have it for as long as is necessary.

(c) R.M. Clarke

About The Broken Spiral:

The Broken Spiral is an anthology of short stories by Irish authors in aid of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. The project is named The Broken Spiral as this is the symbol of the centre, and because it is emblematic of the winding, re-winding and often circuitous journey towards healing that those who have experienced trauma face. This symbol also serves as the shape of the collection, which, though it inevitably explores darkness and difficulty, ultimately offers solace, and a way out of the labyrinth. The Broken Spiral will raise much-needed funds for the centre, but also act as a restorative to survivors of trauma who have spoken out and survivors who remain in silence through the redemptive power of storytelling. The aim of the collection is to bring hope to the reader, and to re-establish a belief that healing can, and does, happen.

Including writing from Pat McCabe, Mia Gallagher, Colin Barrett, Sinéad Gleeson, Louise O’Neill, June Caldwell, Roisín O’Donnell, Claire Hennessy, Sam Blake and Oisín Fagan, The Broken Spiral is a collaborative project built upon the generous donations of time, money, skills and writing of many. It is sponsored by Dublin UNESCO and Mutiny Group, and supported by The Irish Writers’ Centre and New Island. All proceeds from The Broken Spiral anthology go directly to The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

More information and details on where to buy the book are available here.

The Broken Spiral will be launched at the Irish Writers Centre – 6.30pm, Wednesday 15th November.

About the author

R.M. Clarke began her career as an actress in 2006, moving behind the scenes into voiceover work and writing some years later. Her short stories have been published in Losslit, The Open Pen Anthology and commissioned for Dublin 2020, and she is a contributing writer to writing.ie. Her debut novel, The Glass Door, won the ‘Discovery’ award at the Dalkey Book Festival and The Irish Writers Centre Greenbean Novel Fair 2016. She lives in Dublin and is a volunteer outreach speaker for the Rape Crisis Centre.

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