Leah Cypess. Forgiveness. (Asimovs February 2015)

asimovs1502A story about which I have reservations.

As a story, entitled ‘Forgiveness’ it’s about a teen at school whose boyfriend has anger management issues, and this has led him to hurting her in a fit of temper. The sfnal element is that to avoid a prison term there’s a chip implanted in his brain that modifies his behaviour, making it impossible for him to do harm (a la Alex in Clockwork Orange). The depth to the story comes in Anna’s wanting to offer forgiveness in the face of hostility from school friends and parents. And the drama comes through the chip evidently not working – does she tell the authorities.

The problem I have with the story is that is doesn’t go deeper into the nature of intimate partner violence – it’s not just a case of losing your temper and striking out. It’s invariably about controlling behaviour, emotional abuse, about power etc etc. This comes across a little in the story, as her jealous boyfriend calls her a slut for talking to another boy, but in the end the story is about whether the chip will work or not and allow her to forgive him and for them to stay together.

We hear about her therapy, and the extra therapy which is required of her, to which she objects, when in reality the girl really does need as much help as the boyfriend in terms of what is going on in her head, and what is drawing her into a relationship where there is a cycle of violence/making up. Props to Cypess for taking on the topic, but it does oversimplify a very complex issue.

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