"For a time after I was assaulted, I behaved much like the Sphinx - stone cold and quiet. Talking was difficult and, when I finally did speak, it was harsh and directed at my mother. Why? Because I knew she would recognize and understand my pain. I was confident that her love for me would never change. She had been where I was and although forty years had passed, I knew she had not forgotten.
Now it's your turn. We'll be your shoulder to lean on. We'll be the ears that listen. We'll hear you!"
Jessica Carbone-McKinney was the victim of sexual assault in 2007. She was kidnapped from her apartment in the middle of the night, brutally beaten and repeatedly raped. Her attacker used a machete to guarantee her cooperation. By all that is logical, she should be dead but fate had other plans for her. Jessica has become a vocal advocate for victims of violent crime, her intention being to make all women aware that safety is an illusion. She firmly believes that until rape victims come forward and identify themselves, crime against women will continue to escalate.
Although I've been remarried to a wonderful man for more than forty years, I have not forgotten that first marriage or the lessons learned. In fact, if a genie were to pop out of a bottle and offer an opportunity to go back and change the past, I would refuse. The most valuable lessons are those learned through adversity. I hope that the pain I experienced will make it possible for someone else to be spared. As a writer, I hope to use my skills to bring about a greater awareness. I am partial to this quote by Lord Byron: "A drop of ink may make a million think." I don't care if no one knows my name. Forget me. I'm not important. Don't forget what I've written. If one article (or speech) prevents one person from suffering the pain of rape, a drop of ink can become a tidal wave.
Donna recently released the first two books in her series of Cat Leigh and Marci Welles crime novels set in Palm Beach County. Through Thick and Thin and Silk Suit/Stone Heart use the true account of her daughter Jessica’s kidnapping and rape in 2007 to focus a spotlight on crimes against women. The third book, Total Submission, should be published by the end of the year.
So miraculous was Jessica’s survival that the story has been featured on both Surviving Evil (History Channel) and I Survived (Investigation Discovery). Donna and Jessica have appeared on the Katie Couric Show and on numerous radio programs where they discussed safety awareness with the audience.
Donna has also published Private Hell, a separate crime novel which uses her own experience with domestic abuse as a focal point. As with all of her writing, keeping women safe in an ever increasingly dangerous world is her goal.
In a recent interview, she said, “Every author has his/her personal reason for writing. Some crave fame and fortune… a sure to be disappointment. Others have more personal reasons for setting pen to paper.
For me, a quote spoken 200 years ago by the British poet Lord Byron says it all. ‘A drop of ink may make a million think.’ I write in the hope that the millions of drops of ink that become words on the pages of my books will keep people safe in an ever increasingly dangerous world. I know what it is like to be on the receiving end of violence. I know what it’s like to have someone you love survive a violent crime.
While my books are categorized as crime novels, they are … to borrow a television term… dramadies. Yes. people die. But people also live, laugh and love. My stories are about friendship, loyalty, dedication and values. The stories feature people like you and me… people who are humanized by their strengths and weaknesses.”
Donna recently also published her first children’s book, Lambie and Me, which is based on conversations she has had with her grandson, Blake. He has convinced her that reincarnation is real. Donna swears there is a 40-year-old man living inside that 4-year-old body. “This book is a morality tale,” she said, “one that weaves the importance of good character into the narrative.”
For the past few years, Donna has moderated author meet and greets through which she introduces the public to up and coming writers living in Palm Beach and Martin Counties. These events are presented at local restaurants and shine a spotlight on literacy – one of Donna’s passions. To that end, Donna volunteers her talents to help gifted 4th-grade students in the Martin County school system hone their writing skills.
Donna is also a recognized playwright. Her play, Shell of a Man, was presented at the Dallas Convention Center in 2015 under the auspices of The Black Academy of Arts and Letters. Shell of a Man is the true story of a Vietnam veteran’s 40 year battle with PTSD. Currently, Donna has a number of new plays under consideration by theaters across the country. To learn more about her projects, visit: www.writeforyoullc.com
Donna and Jessica founded the website feelnoshame.org, which offers support and resources for survivors of assault. Donna is an outspoken advocate for victims of violent crime and also advocates for better healthcare for our veterans.
Fear Sells, Donna’s one man show about negative advertising, was commissioned as the closing offering at the TEDxJupiter conference in November 2013. She was a Scenemaker of the Week in the Palm Beach Post in 2012. Donna is also the Managing Director of the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre where she teaches novel, stage and screen play writing.