I was abused by two family members for several years. I am thinking of writing a book about my recovery to help others who have also been abused. I would tell my personal story to illustrate this subject.
One of the abusers is still living. I have no contact with that person. He is a sociopath. I would not name him in any book I would write, but I would have to refer to him as my relative. Could this have legal consequences? Would you advise a different strategy?
The abuser could (and, if he’s a true sociopath, probably would) sue. Not naming him can’t protect you from that. Anyone who knows you personally likely knows who he is. You can bet news of your book will get back to him in one way or another. You also need to be concerned about your safety. True sociopaths can resort to violent crimes to protect their past secrets.
Ways to lessen your chances of being discovered as the author are:
1. Anonymize and fictionalize the entire story (state on the copyright page that it’s fiction based on actual events). Change names, dates, locations, and descriptions of events. You can do all of this without changing the core message you want to convey to other victims (your readers).
2. Use a pseudonym (of course).
3. Never tell anyone but your publisher that you are the actual author of the book. If you tell people, word will get around and, even if you used a pseudonym and called it fiction, he could still sue. That is a risk you do NOT want to take.
I know this is discouraging but even one such lawsuit could bankrupt you in legal fees – even if you win in the end. And, the emotional damage you would be forced endure by interacting with your abuser all these years later could be devastating for you and for your family.
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