Reign: An Honest Portrayal of the Brutality of Surviving Rape

Reign: An Honest Portrayal of Rape by @willvanstonejr

Okay, so I know that I’m usually here bitching about how horribly writers royally screw up rape scenes and the act’s aftermath by treating it like some poor soul can’t find their damn car keys, or maybe stub their big toe. At the most, maybe a rough roll in the hay, which, no, it’s so not. Thankfully, not all creators are made of pure stupid; one show, for all its liberal telling of recorded history, actually got this (rape, not actual history) right.


Reign: An Honest Portrayal of Rape by @willvanstonejrMary Stuart, better known to history buffs and Elizabeth I fans as Mary, Queen of Scots, was raped during the Reign’s season two episode Acts of War (episode 9) when a POS., along with his gang of pissed-off Protestants, stormed the castle with the intention of somehow hurting (probably killing), Francis II. When the king wasn’t there, said POS decided to do, what was, in his mind, the next best (worst?) thing: violate the queen consort of France.

Now, if you’re thinking how’s that not totally sexist? you’re totes right.

BACKGROUND: this show takes place in medieval times, when queens consort were an extension of the king and the source of future kings; she must remain pure and true to guarantee the king’s bloodline continues. If another man can claim carnal knowledge of the queen, heirs can be challenged. By raping the queen, the assailant could’ve shamed the king if word got out.

Also, he busted up royal property. So, um, there’s that, too.

Sounds bad, eh? I mean, rape is always bad (hear that, DC?) but sometimes, something good can come out of it. After the horrible (but not graphic) scene, we saw things most shows don’t bother with: things actually changed. Catherine de’ Medici (the queen mother who herself had been raped in the past) became protective of not only her son’s reputation but of Mary, someone she’d tried to kill more than once. But more importantly, we got to see Mary’s own attempts (not all successful) to deal with what happened to her in her own bedroom while she put on a brave face and acted as though nothing happened when in front of pretty much anyone.

Gotta keep the faith in the crown, y’all.


Reign: An Honest Portrayal of Rape by @willvanstonejrImmediately after her attack, she couldn’t allow any man – even her guilt-ridden husband – to touch her. Even the love for Francis couldn’t overcome her fear of being violated again; it didn’t matter that her head told her she was completely safe, the fear ran deep. She was broken, weak and scared; a shadow of whom she had been.

Kind of like what rape victims feel afterward.

Before being raped, Mary was strong, independent (as far as a woman in the 16th century could be) and opinionated in an I am but a woman way in a time when women, to wield any power, needed to wrap their true selves up in faux vulnerability when the menfolk were around. Otherwise, they could find themselves a head shorter.

I am but a woman, with all the imperfections natural to the weakness of my sex; therefore in all matters of doubt and difficulty I must refer myself to your Majesty’s better judgment, as to my lord and head.

– Catherine Parr, Queen Consort of England

She fought with Francis when she believed him wrong (privately, of course, for both needed to present a united front. For the sake of the crown, of course), and even withstood Catherine’s attempts to rid the family of her. Yet here she was stripped of her strength, because someone thought hurting her made him a Real ManTM.

Cause raping woman when you’re pissed at her husband, makes sense. Somehow. To a misogynist. Or something.

She lost herself in the pain and it took time, patience and strength she thought she’d lost to reclaim what had been torn from her. As time separated her from the attack, she began letting others in, except for her husband, who a part of her psyche still blamed (seeing how his actions, when dealing with the religious upheaval threatening his country, did spark the Protestant revolt during which the castle was invaded and Mary was raped, there was a linear(ish) logic for her feelings to follow). She couldn’t stand his presence, much less his touch, and went so far as to move into her own chambers.

Her inability to be intimate with Francis, at a time where she may very well have needed it, led to another honest reaction to her situation: her affair with Louis de Bourbon, The Prince of Condé.


Reign: An Honest Portrayal of Rape by @willvanstonejrWhy? Why would she turn her affection to someone, not her husband, who was desperate to save her? Well, though it would make Prince sad, she wasn’t about to run to the person she blamed for what happened.

Would you run to me if somebody hurt you

Even if that somebody was me

-Prince (or TLC* if that’s your jam)

*I prefer TLC, in case you wondered. Okay, moving on.

Yes, an affair tends to be viewed as bad and slutty and stuff, but she needed to feel something besides fear, and with Condé, she could. And, because he did really love her and want her happy and whole, Francis took a huge risk in giving his blessing (remember that whole queenly purity?), without once realizing what a noble deed it was.

He gave her what she thought she needed.

Mary and Francis were a couple reeling, and did what they believed best to recover. And, in time, they did. Mary regained her strength, dignity, and sense of self-worth, and they finally found their way into their marriage bed. She’s still haunted by what happened – and that the affair led to, y’know, war – but she went on that scary, dark journey from victim to survivor.


Though there was (and is) a popular myth that the historical Mary was abducted and raped (into marriage) by James Hepburn, fourth Earl of Bothwell (her third husband), there’s no real evidence supporting the claim. There’s also no evidence, or even gossip, that she was assaulted while queen consort of France.

In what seems like a rarity in entertainment, Reign used rape not to shock or titillate or push a story forward (though it did do that), but instead used it to tell an honest story about how rape affects not only the person attacked but those around her. Her friends, family, husband and even mother-in-law were all touched by the violence, albeit indirectly, and that’s something we need more of: rape not only destroys one life but many, and its wounds can remain for years and beyond.

We’ll need to see if Reign continues Mary’s fight against the memories (I hope they do), so those who have suffered can see a story of hope in a world filled with nonconsensual sex and retconned rape-non-rape B.S.

Did you see this episode? What are you thoughts? 

Broken Places is available NOW from Booktrope. It's already hit #1 on Women's Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo).

All content © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.

Pictures courtesy of Pixabay, flickr user Lisby, and The CW Television Network

An Honest Look at How Panic Disorder Can Affect Parenting

panic disorder, HM Jones, RachelintheOC

I’m honored to have Gravity Imprint author H.M. Jones here today with us to share her experiences as a parent who suffers from panic disorder, and how that has affected her. Look for Jones’ amazing book, Monochrome, on August 1! 

An oppressive heaviness settles like an elephant on my chest, fear pricks my fingers, shooting pain through my arms. Something evil is trying to inhabit my body. I can’t breathe. I want to open my eyes, wake up from this nightmare, but I can barely move, can’t seem to get oxygen into my body. I’m a cement block of fear. When I’m finally able to open my eyes, I’m so afraid of what I’ll see, but I’m not sure why I’m afraid. I’ve never been a fearful person, until I had children. I guess that’s when the panic attacks started. My lungs start to work again, pushing air in and out of my body. The air awakes my senses and my body tingles with pins and needles. My husband comes out of the bathroom and stares at me, noting my wide eyes, my labored breathing. “Are you alright?”

I only nod. I can’t talk yet. I just need to breathe.

The Panic Attacks

The panic attacks began about 2010, just after having my first baby. I wasn’t prepared for all the little things that would go wrong: the fact that my breasts would not produce enough milk to nourish my baby, that she would cry, all the time, starved. That her jaundice would not go away and I would have to hold her, awkwardly fumbling, over a UV belt. I thought it would be immediate—the urge to mother, nurture, to love. But it wasn’t for me. It was all sleepless nights, my body failing me, her yellow body a mass of hungry screams.

My sister came to visit when my baby was three months old. She picked up my skinny little girl, the baby that the lactation consultants swore was probably just fine, was getting all the food she needed. They told me my breasts would produce what she needed, but they just didn’t. My sister picked up that scrawny baby and tears came to her eyes. She took me to the store and bought me a can of formula and a bottle. She told me to feed my baby girl from my breast all I could, and then switch when she became frustrated, which was always (since one of my breasts never produced actual milk).

I put her to my sore, un-swollen breast and she ate for a few minutes, until the nutrition ran out. It never took long for that to happen. I could feel they were empty after only a few minutes. My body had failed in one of its simplest functions. I was failing as a mother. My sister saw the light leave my eyes, saw moisture collect under my lids. She went to the kitchen and mixed the formula into a bottle. She sat next to me and put my hand around the warm bottle. It felt like hope. She placed the rubber nipple next to my chapped, bleeding one. Clara ate the entire bottle, burped, and fell asleep. The ache in her stomach satiated, she stopped screaming.

I gave her to my sister, went to the bathroom and bawled. I’d been starving my child because I was told it was the best for her. I was so mad at myself, at all the “help” I’d been given, at the advice that fell short and at my body for not doing what it was made to do. I had a panic attack, then, for the fifth time in three months.

Baby Number Two 

I have another child. I fed him both from breast and bottle. He was happy immediately, slept well and was content. He had jaundice too, but it left him much more quickly since he received proper nutrition and vitamins from the start. The panic attacks stopped for a while.

Recently, they’ve started again, though. And I don’t know why. My children are 5 and 3 and are helpful, fun and generally manageable. But since 2013, I’ve had several more panic attacks, and guilt plagues me. Guilt over what? Over not bonding with my first right away, over putting stress on our relationship that we are still repairing? Over bonding immediately with my son, understanding him right off? Over allowing my husband to take the financial burden, after spending years and years getting expensive degrees, so I could be with the kids? Over being good at something that just doesn’t pay the bills and may not ever pay the bills? I don’t know where the guilt comes from, but I now understand the phrase, “Mother’s guilt” in a way I never could before having children.

The Daily Struggle 

Every single day I struggle with my mistakes, my misspoken words, my harsh actions/reactions. I feel like a walking, talking screw-up, in a way I never did before having children. Would I trade it? Never. The payback is that I have two amazing, funny, smart companions to share my thoughts, dreams, talents, hobbies with. And they are their own hilarious people, so different from me, with their own fears and thoughts and stories and desires. And it’s all so amazing that I grew them in my body! They give back as much as I put in. It’s amazing, this “parenting” gig, but it’s also done a number on me.

I think (read overthink) things all the time now. I’m afraid of everything, what “A” will do to them, how they will react to “B,” whether they will be hurt by “C.” The panic attacks that come with the job are the worst part. Being a mother with a mood disorder is overwhelming, but it’s manageable. We all get by. Even panic attacks only last so long. And I feel braver, just living life as a mother.

There is nothing more frightening, after all, than a parent worrying over their children.


About H.M. Jones:
HM Jones, panic disorder H.M. Jones is the B.R.A.G Medallion author of Monochrome, re-released with Gravity, an imprint of Booktrope. She is also responsible for the Attempting to Define poetry quartet and has contributed a short story to Master’s of Time: A Sci-Fi  and Fantasy Time Travel Anthology. A bestseller only in her mind, Jones pays the electric bill by teaching English and research courses at Northwest Indian College. Jones is also the moderator for Elite Indie Reads, a review website for Indie and Self published books. Besides buying enough second-hand books to fill a library, Jones loves to spend time helping her preschoolers grow into thinking, feeling citizens of this world, run, weave, pull with the Port Gamble S’Klallam Canoe Family and attempt to deserve her handsome husband, who is helping pay the other bills until his wife becomes the next big thing. Connect with her on her website.

About Monochrome:
Monochrome, panic disorder, HM Jones What would you do to save your most precious memories?

That’s the question that Abigail Bennet, a new mother, must answer in this dark fantasy.

The cries of her new baby throw Abigail into rage and desperation. Frightened by foreign anger and overwhelming depression, the first-time mother decides to end her life to spare the life of her only child. But before she acts on her dark intuition, she is overcome by a panic attack and blacks out.

When she awakes, everything is blue: the trees, the grass, the rocks and still, scentless sky above her. Everything except the face of the man who stands over her. He is Ishmael Dubois and claims to be her Guide through the dangerous world of Monochrome, a physical manifestation of the depressed mind. But in a place where good memories are currency, nightmares walk, and hopeless people are hired to bring down those who still have the will to live, Abigail starts to wonder if she’ll ever make it back to her family. Despite her growing feelings for her handsome, mysterious Guide, Abigail must fight for the life she once wished to take or fade into the blue.

Broken Places is available NOW from Booktrope. It's already hit #1 on Women's Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo).

All content © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.


Pictures courtesy of Unsplash, HM Jones, and Booktrope

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man in car

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trashed car interior

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