Vote over at TWC today and you can check out the sketch of a mermaid drawing I’ve been working on! I finished it last night, but I’m not releasing the finished drawing until after the comic posts this week. (Gotta max out that social media reach or whatever.)

ALSO, you’ve got a week and a half or so left to enter the fashion design contest! I just put up the most recent batch of entries which you can check out at the Fashion Contest link above the comic.

Anyway…does this page warrant a trigger warning for potentially suicidal thoughts? I don’t think so, because she’s not really choosing to die, she’s just acknowledging that she will. But, I have no idea. So I’m sorry if this fucks with anyone. And hey, warning for a whole discussion about abuse that I’m about to drop on you!

A lot of this part of Chapter 7 was actually inspired by a conversation I was having with a friend…I guess a month ago? Usually I write a few pages at a time, and that talk ended up inspiring me to write the whole damn sequence at once. (I ended up chopping out a page and rearranging things a bit, but it came out well enough that I mostly left it alone.) So, because I only have fun conversations, we were discussing what causes people to stay in abusive situations. I think a lot of people who haven’t ever encountered abuse tend to wonder this in general, actually. The general reasons a lot of people give for why they stay is that the future outside of that situation is even scarier, and this is often compounded by the fact that most abusers actively isolate the people their abusing.

Imagine you’re a stay-at-home mom who relies on her husband’s income to pay bills and feed her kids, and he’s already insisted that you cut off various friends (“they’re toxic! they don’t fit our lifestyle anymore! they actually hate you or they wouldn’t tell you to leave me!”), and he’s probably insisted on moving farther away from your family…what do you do? He’s got all the money. You might not even have a car, and you’ve got kids to think of and no one to turn to. If you get a divorce, you’ll have to fight for custody. A lot of times, abusers will specifically fight for custody just to spite the person trying to leave them. Abusive situations, over time, are specifically set up to make it hard to leave. The abuser wants to keep you there at all costs. There are patterns to how they manipulate you mentally and how they manipulate your environment physically. I almost wonder if this shit is wired somewhere into the human psyche, because the patterns show up over and over and over and over, for men and women.

So, yeah…now you’re a 24 year old werewolf who’s been raised in the middle of nowhere, has no money or skills to speak of, and can’t conceive of a life outside the one she already has, because a better life seems so unattainable that it’s impossible to imagine. Being saved sounds nice, but what does the future look like when you’d be starting off with nothing?

If you’re worried about my life situation after this discussion, I’m fine! I have encountered abusive relationships of various flavors before, but I’ve got the resources and mental wherewithal to peace out pretty quickly. But, I study cults for fun? And the psychology of abuse segues off of that, I guess. (Totally normal interests.) If you’re ever wanting more real world examples, read some of the threads on Reddit for r/relationships, r/justNoMIL (mother-in-laws from hell, which seems specific but is totally heartbreaking a lot of times), and r/raisedByNarcissists. I don’t actually post on Reddit, but damn if it’s not a scary look into the shit some people face on a day-to-day basis.

In positive news, the floors in my house are done and it doesn’t smell like polyurethane anymore, so that’s been nice! I’m thinking of going to IKEA today. It’s like…an hour and a half drive, though. I need a new duvet cover insert and some curtains, and just in general, the nicer weather is making it harder to focus. There are two more pages in this scene, and then we’re going to be starting the sequence that leads to my shopping montage, so I’m trying to enjoy the last bit of free time I’ll have for awhile. The shopping section of this story is going to be a huge bitch to draw for the most part. Clothing racks, mall stuff, randos walking around…luckily, there’s a big ass flashback sequence in there, so that’ll take the heat off for a little while because it’s not as complicated.

Okay, I’m off! See you guys tomorrow with a less depressing page, I promise!