Trauma in romance

We’ve all read stories where the hero or heroine had endured a traumatic childhood. In romance, the leads often shun therapy as adults yet, not only do they function well in society, they find happiness through their love interest. Is it realistic? Could the same person who watched their family get butchered by a serial killer when they were five become a productive member of society through sheer will? Wouldn’t there be some form of mental scars left over?

Likesbooks.com touches on this topic this week with the post “When strong is a stereotype” by Caroline AAR. I particularly liked the comment: “Ever-lengthening chains of sequels can lead authors to make each hero Stronger than the last, sometimes to the point that we no longer believe that such a scarred hero could have an HEA.”

In this post, Jenna Harper brings up a very good point about heroines in NA (new adult). “My fear is that sexual assault is being used as a writing crutch of sorts, a short-hand way for an author to accomplish one or multiple goals which have nothing to do with the issue of sexual assault at all. Rather, the assault is used as a way to establish or demonstrate character traits and then left on the wayside as the story progresses.”

Mental illness, PTSD, trauma and so on, is romance belittling a very serious topic? Are romance books treating trauma seriously enough?

On the other hand, it’s romance. We know it’s fiction when we open the book, we know there’s a HEA guaranteed and we know things have to work out. Does the book have to treat trauma with as much reality as real life? Would it sell if it did? Would we read it?

P.S. That’s not a selfie. That’s Sigmund Freud giving romance books a gimlet eye. 🙂

6 thoughts on “Trauma in romance

  1. Freud can suck my cigar 😉

    I read romance expecting fairly light content. I don’t want real. If a story actually displayed trauma too realistically I probably would not read it.

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