Delta Optimist [Ladner, British Columbia, Canada]
March 9, 2022
By Dani Penaloza
Nicholas Harrison’s book, Safe Space, explores how Star Wars taught him coping mechanisms and helped him re-establish his boundaries after years of childhood abuse
Nicholas Harrison hopes his new book, Safe Space: A True Story of Faith, Betrayal, and the Power of the Force, gives other abuse survivors hope, just as the Star Wars film series did for him as a young boy.
Safe Space, which was published in January, is a personal account of the years of sexual and physical abuse that Harrison faced at the hands of Catholic priests as a boy and documents how Star Wars led him on a journey from victim to survivor to his final form as a Jedi.
“It’s part memoir and it’s also part research, using myself as a case study for how popular culture, cosplay, cult cinema and science fiction can actually help someone through traumatic experiences – while not getting lost in it, but using their fandoms as a way of shaping and re-establishing their boundaries that have been shattered during abuse,” says Harrison.
Harrison’s story had its own evolutionary journey as well, and actually began as a research paper that he wrote during his Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia.
Years later, it transformed into the play How Star Wars Saved My Life in 2017 and was nominated for a Jessie Richardson award.
Now, Harrison’s story is captured in book-form within Safe Space.
“When I first came out about the abuse, it was a time when people didn’t want to talk about it. And even today, even with everything else that’s going on, it’s still a very touchy issue for many people … [But] It’s very interesting to see how the world is starting to now embrace survivor stories and to not treat survivors as outcasts,” he says.
Though Safe Space is a story of abuse and pain, it’s simultaneously a story of resilience and strength. It is there to remind other abuse survivors that they don’t need to be ashamed of what happened, and that it’s important to speak out about it.
“I would love if it helped just one person understand that what happened to them was not their fault, and that there is hope, and that there are people out there that support each other who have gone through similar things … I hope it will shed light for those who don’t know anything about abuse and being abused, and it’ll help them understand their friends and family members, who have been abused, a little bit better,” says Harrison.
In addition to being an author, Harrison is also an actor, professional fight director and stunt performer. He, admittedly, was also the man behind the Star Wars character sightings in Tsawwassen back in April 2020, which created quite the buzz on social media.
If you’re interested in purchasing Safe Space: A True Story of Faith, Betrayal, and the Power of the Force, you can do so through Amazon, through the FriesenPress website at https://bit.ly/3sGFYPS, or you can order it through Ladner’s Black Bond Books and Tsawwassen’s Albany Books.
To stay up to date with what Harrison is working on, check him out on Instagram at @therealnicktheguy or his website.