The Abuse of Ashley Collins * Jon Athan

The Abuse of Ashley Collins was a disturbing book. I was personally unnerved while writing this story. There were even moments where I contemplated shelving the book. So, I think it’s safe to assume someone out there might have been offended by the content of this book. If you were offended, please accept my sincerest apologies. That was never my intention. The Abuse of Ashley Collins was inspired by novels like Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door and other real crimes. My goal with this book was to create a terrifying experience through human horror. I wanted to showcase the despicable actions humans can and have committed. Sure, there were a few things that may seem outlandish, especially towards the end, but most of this book was supposed to be grounded in reality. Although I didn’t experience the same abuse as Ashley Collins, I have felt the belt before. This is an extreme case of abuse, but I think it’s also important.

— Jon Athan

The Story

Ashley Collins, a sixteen-year-old girl, has severe behavior issues. She regularly fights with her parents, Logan and Jane. When the fights become personal and physical, Logan and Jane decide to take matters into their own hands. They chain their daughter in the basement and abuse her in an attempt to rescue her from her bad behavior… while delving into their own deviance and depravity.

This is a story of family and abuse. This is a story of violence and discipline. This is the abuse of Ashley Collins.

I read this book shortly after finishing The Girl Next Door * Jack Ketchum and I can see the similarities immediately. Horrific graphic violence, rape and blood and torture – this time perpetrated by the flesh and blood and the people who are supposed to love and care for their children. For Meg and Ruth I understood there wasn’t a family link. Ruth hadn’t seen Meg grow up, she was unused to females in the house and the youth and feminine side of Meg acted like a threat to the much older Ruth. In this book though, the plot seems paper thin.

A rebellious teenager, Ashley, pushes her parents too far and they decide to teach her a lesson to make up for the years of neglect and lack of parenting. It’s like – we couldn’t do what was right for 17 years so we’re gonna beat some decency and respect into our own daughter and failing that, we’ll kill her. Plot is shaky at best.

The father, who appears as a stern figure at the start of the book, feels disrespected in his own house as she sneaks her boyfriend in to have sex and then slaps her dad as she tries to leave.

Even at work, among his close peers, the man could not forget or forgive his daughter’s disrespect.

At no point do these parents have a sit down and a heart-to-heart talk with Ashley. Their idea of parenting is pretty much abuse:

Logan said, “Yes, hit her. If we have her locked in the basement, no one will ever know. If we’re able to break through to her, then we just saved our daughter and society. And, best of all: while she’s locked in the basement, thinking about what she’s done and where she’s heading, we’ll have the opportunity to live like a normal family again. Me, you, and Calvin will be able to finally be like a family, Jane.”

The author tries to motivate the couple’s reasoning as disciplining their kids like in the olden days – to teach respect.

“Think about it, man. We got spanked, right? We got hit with the belt, right? You can’t do that today. You’re not allow to physically discipline your children anymore. So, as soon as they realize you have no power over them, they start to do whatever they want. You lock them in their room, they’ll just climb out the window. You lock their door and their window, they’ll call the cops and say they’re being imprisoned. It’s not just the justice system, either, pal. No, if you discipline your kid – spank ’em and whatnot – then society says you’re a bad parent. You can bet your ass your kid will post about it online and you’ll have a hoard of people with nothing better to do at your door.”

What Logan and his wife fail to see is that discipline is applied immediately after an act so that the child can associate the action with the repercussion – and never in bulk or physical. These “parents” decide that 17 years worth of discipline should be applied with a belt, with cigarette burns, with forcing condoms down their kid’s throat, broken noses and lacerations abund.

I actually had to Google what the effects are of swallowing condoms as most people know – they are latex and even used for drug mules as they don’t dissolve in the stomach acid. If you want some interesting real-life reads, check these out:

So the parents act based on the rule that you shouldn’t let a kid become entitled by making sure they are physically disciplined

We’re not doing our kids any favors by teaching them that they can get away with everything. Besides, I’ve seen how your girl acts and she deserves an ass-whoopin’.

[…] It’s my fault and I have to fix this. Since we haven’t punished her, we’ve basically raised a monster. And, we’ll be responsible for whatever she does in the future if we don’t tame her.”

[…] We have to teach her a lesson. It’s our responsibility as parents.”

[…]Even if we leave a mark, I plan on leaving her down there until the next school year starts. By then, she should be fixed and all of her wounds should be healed.”

And the worst of it all, the abuse keeps escalating to new gory heights. The father beats her, mother shaves her head (badly) and burns her privates with a lighter and extinguishes cigarettes on her body. It’s too explicit and gory. And I think it’s too much. There’s a point where you don’t want to read anymore as it’s just one step above torture porn.

Out of breath, Logan wagged the belt at his daughter and said, “I should have done this a long time ago, Ashley. I should have taught you these lessons when you were young, then maybe you would have turned out better. It’s both of our faults. I’m ready to teach you now, though. It’s not over, baby girl. I’m not finished.”

I shuddered. It feels almost sadistic. No parent should dehumanise their own kid to this level and not feel any level of remorse – just hate. Maybe that’s where the horror stems from – the expectation of loving parents and the truth of two beasts with human faces.

You know what pissed me off? The adjectives used while writing.

Calvin furrowed his brow and cocked his head back as his sister giggled deliriously. Jane’s breathing intensified upon hearing the insolent laughter. The girl, a victim of savage abuse, laughed in the face of adversity and refused to be broken by her wicked family.

Of course, Jane kept her mouth shut about her new parenting techniques – brutal abuse.

We can’t trust a sexual deviant like you around Calvin. [..]He could feel his pants tightening around his crotch. His deviance had taken control of his mind.

As a matter of fact, in order to maximize Ashley’s pain, the wicked woman made sure the flame directly burned her clitoris.

A mother’s touch was supposed to soothe a child, but it only frustrated the teenager. Under the circumstances, it was wicked and condescending.

By her lonesome, trapped in a dungeon created by her wicked parents, the teenager could only cry and hope for the best.

… but he wasn’t aware of Logan’s wicked actions.

A mixture of anger and depression blended within her, forming a wicked concoction of rage and hatred. She clenched her fists and gently tapped the sides of her head, frustrated.

While his parents were concerned with abusing Ashley, they had forgotten about parenting their only son. He was left to deal with his confusing emotions by himself – and it only led to more deviance.

The youngster was overwhelmed by his deviant lust.

“I hope so,” Logan responded with a deviant sparkle in his eyes. He asked, “Is Calvin home?”

He could only imagine his daughter’s deviant sexual activities.

… his thoughts led him to the most deviant places.

He knew it was wrong to sniff his sister’s panties – it was sick and deviant – but he couldn’t resist the temptation.

However, his deviant side told him to push forward. His sister could not stop him from exploring her body.

We can’t trust a sexual deviant like you around Calvin.

As she stared at Ashley, smug and deviant, Jane asked, “Don’t you want to have a little fun with her?”

Ashley smirked as she watched her father with a set of deviant eyes. She grabbed his ankles and dragged him out of the bedroom.

Hah! I think if I can create a mind map the best works that would pop up would be discipline, whore, deviant, deviance, smug, smirk and wicked.  The writing seems repetitive at times and the only thing going for this book is the shock value. You got an omniscient author who also judges as he narrates and creates his characters so vile with little redeeming qualities. Trust your reader a little. Let the reader make up their own minds. Don’t tell them what they should feel for a character.

I don’t think it’s inappropriate to write about child abuse, or use it as the backdrop for the story you’re telling, but it’s a topic where it’s very easy for an author to cross the line; where, instead of writing about something shocking to make a point, one writes about something shocking purely to shock.

In my opinion, this is a weak book and not deserving to sit next to Jack Ketchum.


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