I have long been a follower of the five stages of grief, and tried to incorporate them into my series. Dawn, being at the heart of such a series, would be the main perspective of such a journey, and I’ve tried to plot out each stage of this.
Thanks to a post at Neutrois Nonsense, I’ve come to wonder if it isn’t sometimes more complicated than a rigid five stage system. So I wanted to try again to plot this out using that post’s structure.
The circumstances of her initial escape (including the murder of her father), and the consequences following that (including rape and murder by strangers of both herself and her sister), result in an overwhelming shock state born of many conflicting emotions like sadness, anger, and disbelief.
As she fights for survival, protection and safety, she begins to deny the consequences of her escape, refusing to accept her changed identity and body, and idealises her perspective to the point that anything she does is just and deserved, even as she carries out revenge acts equally as bad as those committed against her.
As Alex (her rapist) continually reminds her of what happens, and forces his own opinion upon her desire, she fights back with her truth, while ignoring that past that she fears would erase that truth for his.
She begins to remember all the things he’s telling her, and remembers not all of it’s bullshit. She knows exactly what happened to her, and now she gets flashes of it happening again, settling in her like weight stuck to her heart. She is haunted by the memory, present everywhere, and can no longer deny the truth. She feels broken and helpless.
As she comes to terms with what happened, she blames herself for not being strong enough to stop it or prevent it. She languishes in regret, leading her to react out of stress.
She becomes angry about what is happening to her in the present moment, and begins to fight back against the boys that caused her to fall apart and both her and Brenda (her new friend and support) to fear for their lives and safety. She becomes resentful of the unfairness of their lives, and acts out. She begins revenge attacks against them.
After fighting for a long time, she grows weary of her anger, and it melts away to reveal shame. Shame of what he turned her into, as well as what she turned herself into afterwards. Without her anger, she becomes self pitying and starved for understanding, from herself and others. But instead, she turns what anger is left upon herself, and denies herself gratification. She hides herself away where she thinks he can’t find her.
He finds her, and they become trapped together. He attacks her, and she stands up for herself, fighting only in self defence. Forgetting her shame while she’s trapped, after she gets out she fights for her survival again, until she becomes the sole survivor.
She discovers then that she has another sister, and sets out to find her, thinking that if only she can rebuild what she once lost, she’ll be okay. But Brenda turns against her, fearing Dawn but also fearing that she’ll endanger her sister, and commits herself to rescuing that sister.
When years pass, and Dawn finds her path blocked on every turn, she begins to feel lonely, and craves to fill the emptiness with whatever she can. But it’s never enough, and she falls into addiction. At this time, Brenda faces her and tries to lead her to recovery, but only ends up as a tool to her addiction.
Eventually, Dawn rejects Brenda when she discovers another way to get close to her sister, Seth, and manipulates him to get close to Andrea (her sister). Brenda catches on to this, and fights against Dawn reaching her. But this time Dawn breaks through and reaches Andrea. However, it turns out more difficult than expected, when conflict arises between the sisters and Dawn still ends up feeling alone.
She realises she’s been rejected once again, and begins to feel unstable and heartbroken.
She refuses to let this feeling take hold again, and shuts down her emotions.
Pain breaks down her walls, and she feels everything so intensely, she endangers herself and everyone around her.
She regrets her actions, and the pain and fear she caused, turning hatred against herself.
Her self-hatred burns through her, and she takes it out again on those around her.
She feels ashamed of herself, and shuts out the world, to protect them and herself.
She begins making promises to herself that she can change, that all she needs is another chance, or to return to the world only under certain circumstances.
When she fails to follow through on her promises, she begins to think she isn’t worth anything, she’s evil, she’s a burden, she doesn’t deserve to live in the world where she can hurt people. She thinks she needs to be locked up.
She begins to think that the only way to function in the world is to find love in herself, to find connections, and to self-reflect on why she acts out so often. That way, she can stop herself before she starts.
After moving once again through the grief stages, she comes to a place where she realises she has friends, and she doesn’t have to fight against herself, push them away, or prove herself against an enemy. She begins fighting for herself, beside Andrea and Brenda, and finds that she has finally found a family, and a home.