Reflection on the Implication of Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door

The novel The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum is very disturbing and graphic, but the social issue of abuse within suburbia is more prevalent than one may be not willing to see.

Recently, Jeffrey Allan Maxwell, age 58, was arrested in Parker County, Texas for aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping over the weekend of March 12th and 13th for abduction of his former neighbor, a 62-year old woman on March 15, 2011.  Unlike The Girl Next Door, the victim may not have been young, but like the book, she was tied up, beaten and essentially by this shell of a man.  Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler requested that the Texas Rangers re-open the case regarding Maxwell’s ex-wife, Martha Martinez Maxwell, who vanished in 1992.  Maxwell’s wife was originally declared missing in 1987  before she was found beaten and cut in Ardmore, Oklahoma.  Jeffrey Maxwell was charged with aggravated kidnapping in that case, but the Tarrant County grand jury did not indict him.  Lastly, Jeffrey Maxwell may be a key suspect  in another Parker County woman case who went missing in 2000 after her mobile home was burned to the ground.

With cases like these surfacing nationally, even more are hidden out of sight of the police and the general public.  According to The National Institute of Justice, from their statistics in 1999, one in four women have been victims of domestic violence, and according to the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 3 million women are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend each year.  Furthermore, three in four women have reported that they have been victims of rape and/or physically assaulted since the age of 18 by an intimate partner, and approximately one in five women have been victims of rape or physically or sexually assaulted in their lifetime.  Some of these women have found escapes in shelters and such, but some haven’t.  Unfortunately, those that can’t either physically or emotionally are caught in a deadly loop, suffering from Stockholm syndrome where the victim expresses adulation and positive feelings for their tormentors.  Where the female victims express adoration, these cases of domestic abuse often lay hidden, even in the comforts of expensive BMWs, white picket fences and perfectly cut lawns of suburbia.  In the case of Meg Loughlin, in the novel The Girl Next Door, she sacrificed herself to defend her crippled sister from her aunt Ruth.  Ultimately though, counteracting a mild form of Stockholm syndrome, Meg fought back in the end, but it was also the end of her tortured existence in the basement of Ruth Chandler’s suburban home.

American society frowns upon the downtrodden, but it hurts even more as the downtrodden lay before our very eyes but we remain blind to them.  The victims choose to hide it, and we choose not to see it.  And the abusive cycle begins yet for another night…