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abuse-related superpowers:

I have a setting where a children with a certain genetic make-up develop PubertySuperpowers if they're traumatized on a regular basis (usually abuse, but could be war zone or other long-term traumatic experience) before they enter puberty. The powers are influenced by the kind of trauma and the child's personality - basically, they're something the kid really wished they could do to escape the trauma.

I need ideas for traumatic backstories and the powers they'd cause. So far, I have:

  • two brothers who are physically abused, the protective older brother becomes a Flying Brick and the introverted younger brother can turn invisible/intangible at will

  • a girl with an emotionally abusive mother who expects her to know what she wants without being told, she gets Mind Reading

Any others?
If I'm asking for advice on a story idea, don't tell me it can't be done.
 2 chihuahua 0, Fri, 20th May '11 6:23:21 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
Hmm, interesting premise:

  • A boy that is constantly fleeing from a group of bullies develops Super Speed.
  • A teenage boy who is harrased by his sports coach dad to win aall the time develops Super Strength (or other skill related to the sport).
  • A girl who's mother frequently punishes her by shoving her into a bathtub full of water develops Water Breathing or the power to control water.

 3 feotakahari, Fri, 20th May '11 7:02:43 PM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer

edited 20th May '11 7:11:43 PM by feotakahari

That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
 4 Leradny, Fri, 20th May '11 7:34:28 PM from Alameda, CA
Unfortunate Implications!

I mean, it's an interesting premise but you'd get a lot of flak for pretty much saying "Beat your kid and he might develop SUPER AWESOME POWERS!!!"

edited 20th May '11 7:35:01 PM by Leradny

 5 Silent Reverence, Fri, 20th May '11 7:39:22 PM from 3 tiles right 1 tile up
adopting kitteh
Beat your kid and he might develop SUPER AWESOME POWERS!!!
[up][awesome]just bugs me[lol]
 6 chihuahua 0, Fri, 20th May '11 8:02:28 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
Maybe all of these powers are Blessed with Suck that futhers corrupts the child unless they recover.

edited 20th May '11 8:02:50 PM by chihuahua0

 7 Leradny, Fri, 20th May '11 8:08:11 PM from Alameda, CA
Yeahhhhh, no.

If these kids were always meant to have superpowers and the trauma inhibited them from developing full strength, it would fly. But to the OP, there are very few publishers who will green-light this, just so you know.

 8 feotakahari, Fri, 20th May '11 8:23:19 PM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
Let's put it this way: it's better than getting powers based on your creepy sexual fantasies.
That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
 9 Leradny, Fri, 20th May '11 8:25:59 PM from Alameda, CA
Very few publishers in Western countries.

 10 Dec, Fri, 20th May '11 8:36:01 PM from The Dance Floor
Stayin' Alive
Someone daydreams they where someone else when things get bad - Shapeshifting and/or some sort of Body Snatcher.

Someone who gets bullied wants people to like them - Charm Person or Glamour.

Someone who really just wants the bruises to go away - Healing Factor.

Someone who wants their dad to stop being drunk and beating them - the ability to cure poisons instantly.

A Wild Child - Animorphism.
Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit
Deviantart.
This sounds really depressing.

Maybe if all "genetically special" kids get powers, but life experience influences which power they get. Maybe.

Was?
Neh, if you want to make it really make it grimdark, make it so the power is fueled by the trauma, not just a way to avoid it.

For example, a child who was beaten grows stronger and tougher the more they are hit.

Mr. Vague
I know I'm neither a regular here nor any kind of authority on the subject, but I'd say keep it as the OP states it, personally. As it stands, it's a unique premise with the potential to confront unfortunate implications, make the powers not worth the years of abuse, maybe have there be some sicko who wants to take advantage of the whole "beat my kids, give them powers" thing (maybe have that be the "ugly yet less pathetic" kid). Even if it isn't published, it could turn out more of a thoughtful work that way.

edited 21st May '11 4:10:50 AM by DoctorDiabolical

 14 jasonwill 2, Sat, 21st May '11 7:13:12 AM from West Virginia
This premise hits way too close to home for me, at least is very uncomfortable from the way their powers manifest themselves.

Realistically, if I had a power to stop all my abuse, it wouldn't be clean. Done seriously, I as a reader would expect one of two things: realistic wants, and therefore destructive and fatal powers. Do not expect them to fight crime with them, but instead use it on whoever is mean to them. This I could probably gut reading.

The other thing would be making it a standard hero story, but that would disgust me, given my experiences.

Unless it is more tongue in cheek, that might make a difference, but as a reader I probably couldn't gut it from what I understand.

edit: read the other comments

Unfortunate implications aside, if you at all play this realistically, THERE WILL BE A FUCK LOAD OF DEATH.

Do not underestimate a child's ability to not see the consequences of their actions, and giving them powers will make them murderers.

Like, what would the kid who gets beat get? Rage and self-loathing?

What about the one who got raped by a family member? Will that kid learn shame and suicidal tendencies?

What of the kid that was the kid of a crack addict, what will they get? The power of apathy?

Kids can't appreciate the 'what doesn't kill me makes me stronger' thing, they are developing, and cannot take that kind of thing. It really leaves them screwed up, and if I had powers from trauma, I would of literally made myself a god and killed MANY MANY people by now, and done some egotistical thing where I start a worship of my godhood in some small 15 square mile country and head my own super cool militia and shit... that sounds cool.

Anyway, good luck with all the family murders and school shooters you are realeasing on the world, unless, you know, you want to portray abuse as something that makes people stronger and isn't that big of a deal, and make any real depression look like wangst, further supporting this bullshit that every kid or young adult who has serious shit going on is just some whiney week little mother-fucker that can't be given the time of day and deserves no respect and should be treated like fucking dirt because he is autistic and differnet and oh god i wish i learned to use my fist on those fuckers! mock me?! trick me?>?>!?! string me along and plot against me for your own fucking amusement?!?!??!!?!? FUCKAF ADSF;JAHDS FH'aj!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Sorry, I have not felt this much anger in a long time, not the OP's fault, a lot of memories came flooding, a lot of angst and hurt. I wrote that last parapraph in a spastic rage of complete honesty, and that is a lot of serious problems for kids under constant abuse, esp when it is at home and school like it was for me, add on top of that I have been diagnosed with no less than THREE mental illnesses by professionals [bipolar (2 of them), Aspergers (two completely separate ones), ADHD (all of them)]. So if my rambling is any clue,

Either way, you will run into highly offensive unfortunate implications, or have a very bleak story filled with a lot of death. The latter I could probably take, and be fine. The former? I will come to your house and kill you. (Joking, but really, the whole thing makes me very uncomfortable, but maybe that is just me.

I do not know how else it could be played to avoid some serial killers/revenge killers/monster kids OR not have unfortunate implications, but maybe I am not thinking outside of the box. But if they are superheros, do we really need a scientific reason? Willing suspension of disbelief

edited 21st May '11 7:30:47 AM by jasonwill2

as of the 2nd of Nov. has 6 weeks for a broken collar bone to heal and types 1 handed and slowly
Forum Villain
A child gets a life sentence in the womb to the harshest prison in the world because of his fathers crimes- he becomes a Genius Bruiser Magnificent Bastard with Super Strength.

wink
"Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person that doesn't get it."
 16 Zolnier, Sat, 21st May '11 4:17:02 PM from A suspiciously dull shop
The Odd Lad
I think the unfourtunate implications would be averted as long as the abuse victims were potrayed realistically.
Life's Gonna Suck When You Grow Up... But Is It That Great Now?...

Also I'm Skylark2 now.
 17 Leradny, Sat, 21st May '11 7:55:57 PM from Alameda, CA
No, they wouldn't. The superpowers would just be a consolation prize. "Hey, you're getting exploited terribly by the people who should love and support you the most, but at least you can FLY!!!"

 18 Mr AHR, Sat, 21st May '11 7:57:56 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Leradny: It would if it's treated as a horrible thing in-universe. I mean, you have plenty of people today who are mistreated in order to "excel" in school or in physical sports, but it's not seen as a good thing by anyone.

And that's when the parents are well intentioned.

edited 21st May '11 7:59:49 PM by MrAHR

 19 chihuahua 0, Sat, 21st May '11 8:02:28 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
I bet the general population would detest the superhumans because of their powers, so...Deconstruction Junction, what's your function?

 20 Edmania, Sat, 21st May '11 8:41:31 PM from under a pile of erasers
o hai
I mean, you have plenty of people today who are mistreated in order to "excel" in school or in physical sports, but it's not seen as a good thing by anyone.

owutrly
If people learned from their mistakes, there wouldn't be this thing called bad habits.
 21 Mr AHR, Sat, 21st May '11 8:43:49 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Edmania: Errr...more or less.
 22 Leradny, Sat, 21st May '11 9:00:00 PM from Alameda, CA
See, AHR, that only works if people know the kids are being mistreated. Context, context.

Also, the "my awesome superpowers are a curse!" thing won't hold any water whatsoever.

 23 feotakahari, Sat, 21st May '11 9:56:49 PM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
^ It's all in how you play it—nobody sees Unfortunate Implications in Batman's origin story. Granted, I'm not sure Ettina can pull this off, but I haven't seen any clear evidence she can't, either, and writing fiction is one area in which I'll give anyone the benefit of the doubt until they've completed their task to their own satisfaction.

edited 21st May '11 9:57:21 PM by feotakahari

That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
The Web Wanderer
Hate to cut on this issue one way or another, but Drawn By Pain has a pretty good take abuse and superpowers if anyone's still interested. Her powers are hard to nail down by DC/Marvel standards, but she can more or less project her drawings and fantasies as psychic weapons, and as Jasonwill implied, it's far from a happy tale.
 25 Leradny, Sat, 21st May '11 10:05:47 PM from Alameda, CA
I know, but that was about Batman working past his trauma, and there are people who have actual superpowers and presumably weren't traumatized into it, and Batman doesn't actually have superpowers anyway—he's just rich and super-smart, as one of the Badass Normals in the Justice League.

In this premise, you need trauma to get superpowers. Meaning any healthy, well-adjusted person is more likely to just be a Badass Normal. It will rub a lot of people the wrong way, and a fair amount of those people will just have a knee-jerk repulsion, as evidenced by jasonwill's post prior.

Total posts: 51
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