Hi, so my MC was born and raised for seven years in a huge underground complex with roughly 200 other girls, some of them had been kidnapped as babies or toddlers, some were born there as well. The group that raised them trained them to be assassins, so they were brought up with intense training in martial arts, mostly. The children were not allowed to talk to each other or really interact with each other, but they learned to read and talk in class. [1/4]
They also were made to watch some “arena fights” of older girls, that ended deadly. They were taught that they had to be strong and that was mostly defined by cruelty and being emotionless. If they misbehaved they were put in a small, soundproof, pitch black room for days at a time with only some water and bread and no sanitation. Other than that, they shared a bedroom with ~50 girls, so solitary confinement was meant as absolute punishment, not the norm. [2/4] How problematic would the reintegration be? My MC is 18 now and struggles with depression and anxiety and the generall feeling that she’s not strong enough (=messed up view on what “strong” even is) and that she’s not normal and doesn’t fit in, etc. But what would her childhood be like? She and another girl she always protected were adopted by one of the soldiers that saved them and they were provided professional help all their lives, and are still in therapy. [¾] I know that she’d struggle massivley with the hugeness of the world (though they’ve been taught a lot about the outside world, though mostly that it’s bad) and the masses of other people, but what kind of behavior could I expect of her growing up? Thanks in advance ^^ [4/4]
I think you need to re-think this scenario if you want your character to be able to act like a socialised, neurotypical human being and an assassin of any ability.
Children brought up without people speaking to them, without interaction with other children (or by implication people) and without much interaction with adults speaking to them, may not learn to speak.
Trying to restrict normal human interaction in such young children like this would be profoundly damaging to their development. And it would be damaging in ways that would undermine their effectiveness as assassins. They would not be able to ‘pass’ as a normal person in any society. They would not be able to communicate with others.
I lived communally as a child, and also it strikes me as something that would be impossible to enforce if they’re living communally as you suggest.
Essentially the way you’re describing the character at 18 sounds far too well-adjusted for the childhood you describe. I think that leaves two options: either change the character at 18 or change her childhood.
If you want to change the character at 18 I suggest looking up ‘Genie’ and other feral children. That’s the closest thing I can think of to the experience you’re describing. And it means none of these girls would be able to fight effectively or function as assassins so you would also have to deal with why the adults involved chose to continue the ‘training’ program when the result is no effective assassins.
I think changing the character’s childhood would mean less rewrites and a less drastic change to your story.
A lot of the abuse and neglect you describe is not only unnecessary but likely to undermine the character’s effectiveness as an assassin hugely. If the point is to raise these girls to be effective killers then the less torture they go through the better the results will be.
Using solitary confinement for long periods of time on young children- that is going to be intensely damaging to their physical and mental health. It will destroy their memories, their ability to learn, their ability to interact with adults and children, damage their eyesight and probably make them more susceptible to disease. That’s not a complete list and I have more information on solitary confinement in adults here. All current research suggests the effects on children are much much worse.
And what you describe isn’t solitary confinement, it’s closer to sensory deprivation. A form called ‘Baldwin’s Box’ to be exact. Adult volunteers generally can’t stay in these things longer than 24 hours. It is profoundly almost uniquely damaging causing hallucinations, massive memory loss and (in extreme cases in adults) victims can lose the ability to recognise faces and ordinary objects.
It also hugely increases the risk of these children dying because left inside for days they’re likely to self harm and an open wound in a box with no sanitation means a serious infection.
These children would be unable to learn to read or fight if they were treated in this way. They would probably be unable to look after themselves and would need carers.
I do have a solution to all this and it’s kindness.
Instead of abuse and silence make the adults in her childhood loving, caring people. Have these girls raised being showered with gifts and affection and praise. Have them unconditionally love the teachers and carers raising them. Have those teachers speaking to their charges and playing with them.
Have these loving, kind teachers, the people who have told all of these girls how wonderful and special and beautiful they are, teach their charges that the world outside is awful. Have them grow up learning that the teachers and girls around them are the only people they can expect kindness from.
The people above ground? They’re animals. They’re cruel and horrid and stupid and just so much lesser than all the beautiful girls down here. They can’t be trusted. They’re child abusers and rapists and torturers and hundreds of other disgusting degenerate things. They all, each and every one, deserve to die.
All these special, beautiful, wonderful girls? They’ve all been rescued from a terrible place. And really, since they owe their teachers and each other so much, it’s only right that they do their duty. It’s only right that they help defend and support their home. They’ve been saved and really the teachers don’t ask for very much, they just want everyone to work hard and do their best.
That is a regime I could see producing extremely effective assassins indeed.
There’s a strong bond to the adults they’d work for, a strong bond to each other and a lot of positive reinforcement for learning the skills they’d need to be effective. They probably wouldn’t suffer from any illnesses that would impair their assassination abilities. The death rate would be low and the success rate high.
These girls would ‘graduate’ willing and able to do anything the teachers asked of them. Not through trying to suppress natural emotions and behaviours but by using them.
This is how people are controlled and manipulated into doing horrible things. By creating a society for them, full of people they love and then telling them if they don’t obey they’ll lose everything.
I think this would produce someone a lot more like the character as you describe her at 18. She’s been ‘rescued’ young and found out everything she was taught was wrong. Her beloved teachers were the monsters, not the people outside. And she’d struggle because she’d probably still love them.
I can see a set up like that leading to depression and anxiety and someone feeling generally out of synch with the world.
She’d probably fall back on the training she had to blend in, mimicking behaviours and people around her, interacting on a surface level because that’s what you’re ‘supposed’ to do. She’d probably have a lot of trouble connecting with other people and would be extremely socially isolated. But she might not initially appear that way if she’s mimicking ‘normal’ 18 year old women’s behaviour, interacting with a lot of people but forming no real connections.
I think she’s probably at risk of falling into addiction and her training would probably make her very capable of obtaining and hiding drugs or alcohol.
Another thing I think she might struggle with is feeling like a monster, like she’s fundamentally unlovable and could never hope to find any real connection with anyone. Because if the people who raised her are actually monsters then where does that leave her? They said no one outside could ever love her and what if they’re right? What if she’s damaged?
All of this is likely to feed into thoughts about self harm and suicide, though whether she’d act on those thoughts or not is a different matter.
It’s a pretty fundamental re-write, and as always you are under no obligation to make the changes I suggest. It is your story.
But I think changing her childhood in this way would make the story more realistic, both in terms of her assassin-based skills and the behaviour you describe in her at 18. I think it would also make the story a lot more creepy and give it a bigger emotional impact.
I hope that helps, should you chose to keep the characters childhood as is I’m working on a sensory deprivation Masterpost you’ll probably find that helpful.
And good luck with your story. :)