|first of all .. a little Poetry !
| Evil does not spring, like a tiger on its pray,
It bides its time, searching for opportunity,
Seeking out what it may as it may,
It grows, silent and unseen, preparing,
Men of weak will and shortened foresight,
Will seek to find accommodation with it,
|Will try to soften it, to live in peace with it,
But there can never be peace with evil,
By its nature, it demands more and more,
Finally, it demands all, nature, conscience, soul,
It is a chameleon, changing its face, its voice,
Altering its very form and shape to gain what it wants,
| And when, at last, it reveals itself, it is always the same,
Cruel, violent, vindictive, controlling, and destructive,
It is the malevolent, incarnate, odious face of the devil,
Trifle with it, and you risk to trifle yourself away for eternity.
.....by C.W.F. Keane
| I found a group
Where what I have to say
Doesn't make them gasp or run away
It doesn't make them shun me
Or look at me with sideways glances
A group of new beginnings and new chances
To change and grow and deal with things
That live in darker places still
It's time that light comes shining in
Revealing what is true and what is not.
|How lucky to have stumbled on
A group that knows exactly
The fears, the pain, the trauma done
In days when I was so very young.
You'd think my first thought
Would be gratitude
Or joy to find these others
Or overwhelming sadness
Facing finally what's inside
|But no, I felt relaxed
Like coming home at last
Easy to speak and just as easy
To sit back quietly
And feel inclusion and understanding
Wash over me
|How lucky that I stumbled on
This group tonight. You see,
I am an adult survivor of child abuse
.....by Penny Savary
.....September 21, 2015
|Books / Reviews
Here are reviews for a number of books, many written by child abuse survivors, others offering ideas and assistance in fighting the epidemic of child abuse in America.
While many books are written from the perspective of a survivor's personal experience, others are pure fiction, and still others draw from real life but embellish or dramatize themes for the sake of a telling good story.
We hope making you aware of such offerings will help you understand your past .. and deal with your future.
Reviews for NAASCA by Lynn C. Tolson
The following group of reviews has been provided as a service to NAASCA by volunteer Lynn C. Tolson, who suggested they'd make a good addition to our site. Lynn is herself an author the autobiographical Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story (see review below).
She's appeared both as a "Special Guest" on our "Stop Child Abuse Now" (SCAN) talk radio show (hear her show "on-demand"), as well as a panel member during numerous episodes.
Ms. Tolson tell s me she's providing "18 reviews on the topic of sexual assault, survivors, recovery, justice, etc. All books are non-fiction, by, for, and about survivors."
We are very grateful to Lynn for all her active participation.
~~~~~~~~~ Lynn's Reviews ~~~~~~~~~
Learning to Love Myself
by Viga Boland
Learning to Love Myself: A Memoir of Rebirth and Recovery from Child Sexual
Abuse Through Love by Viga Boland is a sequel to her award winning book No Tears
for my Father: A True Story of Incest (see review below). In this follow-up memoir, Viga writes about her
adult experiences after a childhood of torture perpetrated by her abusive father. Of
significance in both books is the fact that Viga kept her traumatic childhood a secret
until her sixties; For about forty years, she did not reveal her painful childhood to her
husband. Then, upon hearing a news report about child abuse, Viga made the
courageous decision to tell her family. In Learning to Love Myself, the reader sees what
her life was like before the disclosure, and reads about the conflict of wondering to tell
her husband what her father had done to her.
As with the writing style in No Tears for My Father, Viga tells her story with clarity and
flow. The reader learns along with Viga how to maintain relationships, conduct business,
and raise children in the aftermath of child abuse. She has to navigate the processes of
life while operating under arrested development. Her father had possessed her body,
mind, and spirit well beyond her childhood, and with every adult decision she made, he
undermined her choice. Imagine your own father questioning your choice of names for
your own daughter! The high level of dangerous narcissism via the father infiltrated
Viga’s psyche even when she lived thousands of miles away. Yet, Viga is a survivor,
determined to thrive on her own terms, fueled by the love her husband John. He
supports, and respects her, without judgement or criticism, with the only expectation
being to love and be loved. Viga also perseveres in her desire to sustain a relationship
with her helpless mother, who was fearful of her husband all the while being utterly
dependent upon him. Therein lies a bittersweet mother-daughter bond that touches the
reader’s heart. The reader is also charmed by Viga’s stories regarding raising her
daughters to be independent women. Despite the hateful actions of the father, Learning
to Love Myself is indeed a love story.
As an advocate for victims of child abuse, I appreciated that Viga Boland has shown
readers that hope and healing is possible. She generously reveals her vulnerabilities for
the benefit of others who have suffered as victims. She has also shown survivors that it
is possible to break the cycle of abuse while offering unconditional love to a spouse and
No Tears for my Father: A True Story of Incest
by Viga Boland
No Tears for my Father is a memoir about the abuse of a girl at the hands of her father. At the beginning, the author offers a “trigger warning” to protect those who may experience flashbacks while reading and ruminating over the horrible treatment of a precious child. A true story about incest is bound to be an emotionally charged read.
Viga's style of story telling is straightforward: she stays with the story in a manner that clearly states the torture she suffered. She writes, "That's the way it happened and that's how it must be told." The content is not veiled by vague metaphors, but is conveyed in concise detail. Viga explores the betrayal and brainwashing she endured via the despicable mind-games and manipulations delivered by her father. He was a narcissistic, dangerous, mean-spirited monster who played on her sympathies with his delusions over his own perceived victimhood. Viga was taught by him to bear the responsibility for his well-being; there was no relief for her, from girlhood to adulthood. Meanwhile, her broken mother offered no safety or security, so her depraved father took everything from Viga, body, mind, and spirit. The reader cannot walk away without an understanding of the evil inherent in incest.
The torment Viga was subjected to was a daily occurrence in her seemingly ordinary childhood houses, from Australia to Canada. Nobody could rescue her from her father's obsessive control vis a vis unfathomable abuse. No one would estimate the depths of her fear of the man who seemed to be an ordinary neighbor. This illustrates the prevalence of abuse in the privacy of homes.
With pictures, poetry, and prose, Viga Boland exposes her vulnerabilities. The reader may comprehend how difficult it is for a writer to share the worst wounds. Yet there is strength to behold as the story unfolds. Both reader and writer are better for having finished this book because it serves as a genuine gift of hope and healing.
The Monster's Game
The Monster's Game is written by Littlegirl413, who chooses to remain anonymous. Such is the shame of being sexually abused from the ages of 4 to 16. To write about these traumatic experiences of abuse is often the method to reduce the shame, and place it back where it rightfully belongs, on the perpetrator. Littlegirl413 does that for herself, and other survivors, in her book of poetry and illustrations.
Statistics show that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of eighteen. As a child victim, the author of The Monster ' s Game is revealing her innermost thoughts and emotions, using her creative writing as a path on her healing journey. She also serves to shed light upon the prevalence of child abuse.
Littlegirl413's poetry is relatable to the reader. (I found myself holding my breath in resonance.) The prose is clear, not “ masked ” by metaphor; this concise, unclouded style may be part of her healing process, as the subject of “masks” surfaced throughout the book. Nor are there graphic scenarios that might frighten a vulnerable reader. Hers is a powerful story of incest and betrayal, told in the form of lyrical poetry and art illustrations.
Art is a healing medium for many survivors of childhood trauma. Littlegirl413 combined her talents for words and pictures to create a book that may be a little book of poetry, but is Big on Healing.
I Am Me: Survivor of Child Abuse and Bullying Speaks Out
by Patrick Dati
Patrick Dati has written a memoir that explores his intense journey to self-identity. His personhood was dramatically changed when he was attacked by the serial killer John Wayne Gacey. How can a nine-year-old boy act attentive in school when burdened by the experience of rape? It 's too much to bear.
It appears that Patrick acted his whole life. He was pressured by a guilt-tripping mother to be who she wanted him to be. He sought her approval, tirelessly tried to please, and yearned to be accepted. Meanwhile, his older brother bullied and bashed him, adding to the confusion of childhood. Patrick lost his spontaneous personality early in his life, leading to an adolescence and adulthood disrupted by mind-numbing obsessive-compulsive activities. As a Catholic, he turned to religious rituals as a coping mechanism. He acted “as if” he was what everyone else wanted him to be.
Patrick lived in the shell of shame that typically encloses a victim of rape. His secrets led him to take on roles not beneficial to his unique personality. He married domineering women who controlled what he wore, where he lived, and even when (if) he could see his own daughter. He engaged in relationships that were emotionally and verbally abusive. He lived a life of pretense.
With the help of a mentor and for the love of his daughter, Patrick emerged from his shell. He explores the depths of his being and comes to terms with his sexuality. He tells the reader how he learned to embrace his authentic self. In this courageous memoir, Patrick conveys a message of hope for living a life with integrity and individuality.
Panic Child: A Harrorwing True Story of Sexual Abuse and Neglect
by Carol D. Levine
Panic Child: A Harrowing True Story of Sexual Abuse and Neglect by Carol D. Levine is a memoir about a childhood lost to abandonment, mistreatment, and confusion. As a child, Carol was not offered protection or guidance or even nourishment. She was denied basic human rights within her own home, leaving her burdened and vulnerable before first grade.
It takes courage to write a true story about child abuse when the author is also the victim. Yet Carol D. Levine gathered her strength to tell her story of abuse so that she can help bring awareness to the crime of child abuse. Her story shares vividly what child abuse and sexual assault feels like. The reader cannot help but feel empathy for the little girl who is lost, lonely, and isolated. Carol also brings attention to the symptoms of her fears and frightening experiences: She suffered from “panic attacks” which made her think she was “going crazy.” Victims of childhood abuse often use drugs and/or alcohol to alleviate the pain. Carol writes about how her use of alcohol escalated in plain sight of a cold and distant mother and a distracted step-father.
As Carol matures in the narrative, she makes every effort to move through the trauma she experienced. She shares with the reader how her faith, and one friend at a time, helped her to develop a life free from the cycle of abuse. She is now a strong survivor who is an articulate advocate that brings inspiration to those who need healing. Bravo to Carol for having a conviction to tell the truth!
This is How it Feels: A Memoir - Attempting Suicide and Finding Life
by Craig A. Miller
This true story is written in a unique style, as if it is a life review, yet the narrator is only twenty years old. While in and out of consciousness after a suicide attempt, he describes the genesis of his descent into deep depression. The reader becomes immersed in the desperate condition that drives him to suicide.
The book is divided into twenty chapters cleverly arranged from “The End” to “The Beginning.” In between, no emotion is too strong to be examined by the author, despite the human tendency toward denial and delusion. The writing is acutely sensitive, with vivid descriptions of people, places, and events. The reader is privileged to ride along with Miller's feelings of greatest joy and deepest sorrow, conveying empathy for the human experience.
Craig A. Miller was tortured and tormented. He was tortured by negligent parents who thrived on alcohol and abuse. His father was absent and his neighbor was abhorrent. Miller was thrilled by youthful romance and defeated by adolescent heart-break. He was tormented by the intrusive thoughts/actions of numbers and patterns of OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Throughout his short life he experienced too much loss for one person to bear.
However, in the wake of the suicide attempt, he ultimately learns what he has gained. The reader of This is How it Feels gains an awareness of suicide because the content delivers on the title. This is not an intellectualized memoir, distanced from feelings, but raw and real.
As an author of a memoir about sexual assault and suicide attempts, I was often startled by scenarios that are so similar. Some nearly scared me into retrograde: cowboys, waterbeds, spiders, sirens, half-ass. The commonalities, despite age and gender differences, illustrate that emotions are universal and words have power.
Deaf, Dumb, Blind & Stupid: Michael Anderson's Fight for Life
by Tremayne Moore
Deaf, Dumb, Blind, & Stupid: Michael Anderson's Fight for Life by Tremayne Moore is a story about a boy suffering from child abuse. Although fictionalized, the author states that it is based on a true story. There are too few books about abuse and its life-long effects on males.
What makes this book unique is in the format: A pastor explains to the congregation the tragic history of young Michael and educates the parishioners on the topic of child abuse. Woven throughout the pastor's speech are snippets from the boy's personal diary, read aloud to the attendees; the journals indicate the emotional devastation of abuse and the deep despair of the victim. Thus, there is a cautionary tale within the pastor's eulogy, one that urges readers to become aware of abuse and its ramifications.
This could be considered a coming-of-age story because it takes the reader from the main character's childhood through adolescence. During this time, Michael explains through the journals his observations of society, such as the hypocrisy of religions, the injustice in society, and the betrayals of love. He is a sensitive boy, thinking and feeling on a mature, meaningful level; he is wise beyond his years.
Through this novel, Tremayne Moore offers to open lines of communication of social problems such as abuse and suicide. He even developed a question guide for use by an individual reader or a book club. Deaf, Dumb, Blind & Stupid provides the necessary awareness of child abuse and how it may evolve into a tragic loss of human potential.
by Patricia A. McKnight
My Justice, a memoir by Patricia A. McKnight, is a harrowing story of unrelenting child abuse and life-threatening domestic violence. The author says that she initially hoped her book would open lines of communication between her and her adult children, a generation affected by the ramifications of trauma. Then, Patricia realized that abuse is an unaddressed epidemic, and her family was a microcosm of the problems that plague our society. She chose to offer a solution by making her personal story a publication that serves to educate and empower.
Even a seasoned reader of memoirs about trauma will feel the suffering of the narrator, an innocent child who experienced emotional cruelty, medical/dental neglect, and sexual abuse. Her father abandoned her, her step-father abused her, and her mother neglected her. Imagine wondering if this is the night your step-father is going to kill you, then trying to concentrate in school the next morning, then being the house-maid and nurse-maid when it's time to be doing your own homework then being chastised for not having her assignments done on time. No child can be expected to carry-on like this for 12 years! Yet, no one seemed to notice the bruises, skin rashes, and tooth decay, obvious outer wounds that reflected the inner pain of a lost and alone child. Teachers ignored her and classmates harassed her. Trecia felt condemnation based on fear instead of compassion full of love. She also carried the burden of guilt and shame as well as the responsibility to keep the secrets of the disturbed and dysfunctional “family” she so desperately needed to survive because no one intervened!
McKnight uses details, descriptions, and a direct writing model to convey the terror of her childhood and young adulthood. The style seemed stream-of-consciousness, as if telling a story all in one breath. While reading, I held my breath, waiting to exhale. Sometimes the tense changed suddenly from past to present, indicating that emotions are not orderly concepts like chronological time. Sometimes a paragraph was written in 1st person with a sudden shift to “you” statements, as if the narrative was too hard for the author to relive in “I” statements. (First you live through it, then you experience it again when writing, and at different levels of consciousness.) Yet the readers' final exhalation may be a sigh of relief; despite the torture and toxicity Trecia survived.
My Justice is not only a memoir; it is a call to action. In her own words Patricia A. McKnight implores people to “be the extended arm of help to anyone suffering from the impact of family violence or abuse.” She lives by shining example, offering words of encouragement and opportunities for enlightenment on the subjects of child abuse, rape, incest, and domestic violence. To tell a story about good versus evil, it takes courage to face fears, compassion for oneself and others, and a conviction to tell the truth. Bravo Ms. McKnight!
Shards of Glass
Seymore documented her life to bring awareness to the epidemic of abuse and to help others overcome the effects of trauma. Her writing gives voice to the hardships she endured and the emotions she experienced; victims of abuse often seek healing in reading others' stories. Shards of Glass is beneficial to survivors and their support systems as a bold look at the reality of generational cycles of abuse and the need for long-term recovery.
A Little Girl's Journey Back into Her World of Physical, Mental and Sexual Abuse
by CW Seymore
CW Seymore wrote a heartbreaking yet hopeful book. She witnessed extreme domestic violence and was the victim of unrelenting and unbearable child abuse. She sought safety by sleeping alone in the woods rather than in her own bedroom with her sisters. But was she ever safe from the emotional torture and mental cruelty? She sought salvation in faith and sports, attaining a sense of value and worth that was not offered in her home.
Invisible Girls: The Truth About Sexual Abuse
A Book for Teen Girls, Young Women, and Everyone Who Cares About Them
by Dr. Pattie Feurereisen with Caroline Pincus.
Dr. Patti Feuereisen is a psychotherapist in New York City who has worked with young survivors of sexual assault for twenty-five years. Her co-writer, Caroline Pincus, is an editor. The collaboration resulted in a book that offers a well-written examination of the trauma of sexual abuse, its painful ramifications, and the healing journey.
The book opens with the authors' explanation of the Greek myth of "Pandora's Box." According to legend, Pandora received special gifts from the gods, including a box that she was told not to open. Feurereisen writes, "...in defiance of the patriarchy, she opened the box." When she opened the box, "out spilled all the misfortunes of the world." This sets an undertone of the entire book: the recognition that patriarchy fosters oppression of women, thereby perpetuating sexual assault upon young girls in our male dominated society. However, the authors do not make social commentary. They allow the survivors to tell their stories, thereby endorsing the fact that Pandora would rather know the truth (of what was in the box), reveal it, and release the trauma. By writing a book for young women, the authors hope that the pain of abuse is released early, thus allowing healing to start sooner.
The book is divided into four parts. Part One defines sexual abuse and its affects. Part Two tells survivors' stories of how girls got through the actual experience of being abused, such as by "disassociation." In Part Three, several survivors tell stories of father-daughter incest, sibling sexual abuse, abuse by those in authority positions, and acquaintance/date rape (it's an epidemic). Part Four explains different paths to healing, and encourages victims to seek support.
Dr. Patti uses questions from the web site she founded, www.girlthrive.com, which is a resource for sexual abuse survivors. She answers specifics in "Invisible Girls" such as "Should You Confront Your Abuser" and "Should You Forgive Your Abuser." The authors also offer an extensive resource section.
Throughout the book, the authors emphasize to readers that victims are not alone, the abuse was not their fault, and "the best way to heal from sexual abuse is to talk about it." To tell the story is to be seen, heard, and validated, and therefore no longer invisible.
The authors delve thoroughly into the box that is filled with the ills of sexual abuse that plague our society. The result is a book that understands victims' needs, thereby giving hope for healing.
Those Are My Private Parts
by Diane Hansen
How do we talk to our children about sexual abuse? What can parents and caregivers say to prevent child sexual abuse? In a society that spends more funding dollars on intervention instead of prevention, Diane Hansen, author of Those Are My Private Parts , has found a simple yet ingenious way to answer those questions. Her book is illustrated with child-friendly drawings in primary colors. The text carries short rhythms with great messages. Every educator and caregiver, as well as children's advocacy centers, should have a copy of this book as a tool to empower children.
Diane Hansen was spurred to action when she heard a perpetrator of sexual abuse on The Oprah Winfrey Show . The convicted child molester revealed how he had used secret tactics and tricks to coerce children into sex acts. A child molester claimed that it is harder to manipulate children who realize the danger. And the danger does not lie solely with a stranger: 93-95% of victims know the attacker! The sting of betrayal runs deep when a child has been abused by someone he/she had initially trusted. Those Are My Private Parts clearly conveys the message to children that no one has a right to his/her body.
"Aunts, cousins, step-fathers, step-brothers, Nannies, grannies, Pa-Pas or mothers Never will anyone make me play A private parts game in any way."
Experts in the field of child abuse state that sexual abuse is a power and control issue, and sex is used as the weapon. The damaging consequences to a child who has been sexually abused are serious, including suicide attempts as well as drug and alcohol abuse. We have to protect our children! Bravo to Diane Hansen for finding a way to teach children to say, "Those are my private parts!" (Perhaps if I had had a book like this as a child I would not have had to write a story of survival from sexual abuse.)
Love Sick: One Woman's Journey Through Sexual Addiction
by Sue William Silverman
What is sexual addiction? How does one recover from this addiction? Sue William Silverman answers these questions in her heartbreaking and heartwarming autobiography. Even if a reader does not experience an addiction of any kind, no time is wasted while reading the book because the prose is so expertly crafted.
In her first book Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, Sue William Silverman writes about the childhood sexual abuse she experienced. She had an incestuous father and a complicit mother. The tragedy of incest leaves any child feeling that she is unlovable, and the confusion that sex equals love. The incest was woven with the elements of secrecy, danger, and destruction. In Love Sick, Sue shows the reader how those elements became a blueprint for her relationships.
As with any addiction, sexual addiction is a narrow one-dimensional drive serving only to feed itself. Sue was starved for real love as a child, so she uses unhealthy behaviors to search for love; she literally does not know better because she was not shown unconditional care. In college, she is caught in an affair with an emotionally unavailable married man, who has a son her own age. She also meets (for sex) a random obscene phone caller who is a stranger. Incest leaves the victim with instinct askew, so Sue literally believes that this strange caller was meant to meet her to show her how loveable she really is. Sue later marries Andrew, and confesses: "I first had sex with Andrew while married to someone else." Andrew is unable to comprehend Sue's turmoil except in terms of how it affects her role as his wife. He says, "I'm tired of shouldering all the responsibility. She could at least try to get a job teaching..."
Sue's primary responsibility becomes recovery from childhood abuse and its ramifications. After trial and error therapy with ten counselors, Sue meets a therapist named Ted. He learns that Sue cannot will herself to stop seeing yet another married man, even while she is married to Andrew. Ted says, "Love doesn't result in sitting alone in motel rooms. Addiction results in sitting alone in motel rooms." Ted encourages Sue to enter a facility with a program for sex addicts. Sue learns that she is as much a predator (searching for love via sex) as she is a victim. She writes, "I am not your victim because you are not a predator any more than a bottle of scotch stalks an alcoholic." That sentence offers enlightening information regarding the vicious cycle of addictions. Sue offers the reader reasons to have compassion for those struggling with sexual addiction by giving us glimpses into the psyches of others in the facility. During the recovery program, Sue searches her soul for genuine feelings that are not in context with a man.
As an author and advocate, I read this book twice: once to become informed about sexual addiction (or any addiction) in reference to victims of abuse, and again for the creative writing that Sue William Silverman is so keenly able to craft.
Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You
by Sue William Silverman
This memoir depicts the devastating abuse of a child born to a prominent man and his pretentious wife. This family that includes two daughters lived on an exotic foreign island as well as an ordinary American city. The father had important careers in banking and law. Nothing was more important to the mother than the appearance of a family as normal. But what is normal when one daughter dashes in and out of the house daily while the other is imprisoned nightly as her father repeatedly rapes her? The sisters do not confide in anyone, and the entire family is without communication of any kind. "In our family we don't know words to soothe each other's hurts." Except that the patriarch finds comfort by taking his daughter's body, mind, and spirit.
Written in present tense, this first-person narrative begins with writing that illustrates emotions in a most extra-ordinary prose. "I sit rigid on a couch and stare at the plant by the window, wishing I were small enough, light enough, to curl up inside one of the cool green leaves and sleep." After experiencing parental rape from the age of four to eighteen, Sue tries to cope by creating alternative personalities; her authentic self had been lost in the isolation of secrets and shame. "I am without will." The mother blames Sue, and not the father for the deviant sexual acts of the father: her mother calls her the "slut daughter." In reference to her mother coming towards her after her father has raped her, Sue writes, "by the time my mother reaches the spot where my body once was, I know it is not me she touches...it is not my arm her fingernails puncture." Long after she escapes the abuse, Sue sustains the familiar in self-injury. She'd been love-starved; in adulthood she literally starves herself. Sue startles the reader with how emotionally annihilated a child is rendered by abuse.
Before the father loses his importance to old age, he vaguely excuses his egregious crimes by admitting that his mother had molested him. But Sue knows the truth: "That just because you are molested as a child does not mean you must grow up to be a molester." Once, just once, Sue hears from her mother "I'm so sorry." Sue tends to her parents while they are dying. As a reader, I struggle to understand how she can be there for them when they were not there for her.
Sue thinks about her mother's cremation, shocking the reader again with what we dare not ponder: "black brick oven where her naked body sleeps."
Sue's authentic self slowly returns to her when she begins to heal under the patient guidance of a therapist, the steadfast love of her husband, and a new connection with her sister. The reader rejoices with Sue while she saves others even as she saves herself: Silverman teaches English composition and comforts women and children.
This book is the winner of the Associated Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction, and there is no wondering why.
Miss America By Day: Lessons Learned from Ultimate Betrayals and Unconditional Love
by Marilyn Van Derbur
Marilyn Van Derbur, a native of Colorado, is one of four daughters of a prominent Denver businessman (he is deceased). Both parents were active volunteers, donating time and money to culture and civic organizations. Marilyn's mother would often state that she had the "perfect marriage" and Marilyn was told that she was "blessed by being born into a perfect family." Marilyn's life appeared to be perfect, as depicted by the smiles in the pictures she shares throughout the book. Marilyn was crowned Miss America while she was attending the University of Colorado in 1958. When she graduated (with honors) Marilyn was a guest host on Candid Camera and a panelist on To Tell the Truth, as well as in commercials. She also waved to the public while in the Cotton Bowl and Thanksgiving Parades. She chose motivational speaking as her career, and was named the "Outstanding Woman Speaker in America" and was inducted to the "Colorado Woman's Hall of Fame." Indeed, anyone reading her story might experience a twinge of envy for all the fame and fortune that seemed to come to her so easily and effortlessly.
Except...Marilyn suffered from physical symptoms including insomnia, tics, ulcers, and panic attacks. When her body and mind rebelled against the constant travel, she experienced full body paralysis, yet doctors found no organic cause. What else might Marilyn be rebelling against? She had to search her mind and spirit to find the answers.
One of Marilyn's earliest memories is of her mother reading the Bible before bed. Memories that came next had been repressed for decades.
Marilyn writes, "I had never prayed. I didn't want a more powerful father and I knew, deep inside, that the Father my mother was praying to when I was a child wasn't protecting me." However, when her story went public via the Denver media and People magazine, she asked of a Higher Power: "I want to help...If you show me the way ...I will do whatever you ask me to do." Thus began the next chapter of Marilyn's life. Not only does she educate with this book and her speeches, she also helps victims become survivors by sharing her healing journey. Throughout the book, Marilyn also shares with the reader her relationships with her husband and daughter, and the reader relishes in the emotional relief their unconditional love offers Marilyn.
No Secrets, No Lies: How Black Families Can Heal From Sexual Abuse
by Robin D. Stone
The author of is a survivor of sexual assault. She has been an editor for Essence magazine, The New York Times, the Boston Globe , the Detroit Free Press , and Family Circle. She also teaches journalism at New York University. This impressive writing experience is evident in her clear, concise, compassionate, and culturally enlightening work: No Secrets, No Lies. Throughout the book, Stone offers "Fast Facts" in the margin, adding relevant material to the readers' knowledge. Stone cites her sources in an extensive "notes" section. She also offers a valuable resource list and index.
Stone offers case examples in each chapter. We read about Kim, who was molested by her stepfather until she was nineteen. Kim learns that a relative had sexually abused her mother. This addresses the frightening fact that perpetration is all too often generational.
The author incorporates the limitations placed upon Black survivors. However, Stone encourages counseling: In chapter four, Stone suggests methods to finding "African-Centered Healing." cultural starting point for the study of African people." Stone then shares Rhonda Wells-Wilbon's Aya Model: Ten Steps Toward Healing" for a culturally sensitive method.
Incest: A Family Tragedy
Shazzam Films, an Edward Blackoff Film
Incest is rarely discussed. It is a topic shrouded in silence, shame, and stigma. Documentaries that portray either the perpetrators or the victims, or both, are even more rare. Edward and Sasa Blackoff, and a team that includes therapist William Meyers, developed a documentary that is daring in its content and noble in its purpose: to expose the truth about incest. To expose incest is to increase awareness; increasing awareness offers insight to protect the children.
The truth about incest is that it is more common than society suspects and more devastating than words can express. Blackoff interviewed victims and perpetrators, as well as service providers and law enforcement officials. Most interviews took place in Florida and Oklahoma, which is the “Heartland of America.” The viewer learns that children are more likely to be victimized by family members than by strangers. Someone the child knows commits 95% of sexual abuse. Courageous victims tell their stories, and state that the trauma of incest lasts for a lifetime. Fortunately, the viewer is offered respites from the intensity of the interviews with visuals of a peaceful nature.
The viewer learns about incest from perpetrators themselves, who disclose how they choose their victims and how often they abuse. The perpetrators state exactly what “abused” and “molested” means, in terms that are often graphic. One convicted perpetrator complained how his life was a “living hell.” The lack of remorse and empathy toward his victim(s) was absolutely maddening! How dare he complain when he has ruined others' lives with his own selfish needs? Another convicted perpetrator appeared so full of remorse that he could almost be a sympathetic character. However, as a viewer and victim, I was left wondering how long it would be until he victimized his own young daughter.
Blackoff interviewed other experts* who work as sex offense treatment providers, as well as parole officers, and law enforcement officials. All indicate that there is a lack of funds for the treatment and containment of sex offenders. To get the funds, we must lobby our lawmakers, and no one in political office would agree to be interviewed for this documentary. (*These experts are educated and trained in the area of sexual violence. (“Expert” also applies to victims, those that have experienced sexual violence.)
No doubt the viewer will be haunted by this documentary, wondering what in the world we can do as a society to protect our children. In a country that focuses on intervention after-the-fact, how do we prevent incest? Other reviews of this film say it is “groundbreaking” and “finally, an honest film.” The documentary is all that, but it begs the questions: People, where have you been? Why have you not protected your children? And think about this: How WILL you protect your children? Incest is a choice. Choose to be aware of the perpetrators.
INCEST: A FAMILY TRAGEDY raises the awareness. As an author on the topic and an advocate for victims, I highly recommend this consciousness-raising, award-winning documentary.
A Private Family Matter
by Victor Rivas Rivers
How does a child survive his boyhood with a father who delivers endless emotional, verbal, and physical torture?
This is what the reader learns from Victor Rivas. Born in Cuba, his family immigrated to America before Castro's rule. Yet Victor did not escape the sadistic dictatorship of his own father. The torture that the father inflicted upon his family is difficult for a reader to process, yet it brings awareness to the tough topic of domestic violence.
The reader learns of a frustrating social system that denied resources to the most vulnerable victims: women and children. When Victor's mother visits a police station to tell of the abuse she was experiencing, she was told that there was nothing they could do. They told her to call the next time he was beating her! When Victor ran to the police station to show his bruised pubescent body to the officers, they told him there was nothing they could do because it was “a private family matter.”
Victor's father ruined everything, and stole his son's right to self-determination. After witnessing abuse upon his mother, his brothers, and his pets, as well as enduring the vicious assaults from his father, Victor runs away from his house-of-horrors. He was safer sleeping in a cemetery. Naturally, he becomes a hostile, hopeless adolescent.
Yet Victor was rescued by seven families, teachers, and coaches. He spent the last years of high school learning to give and receive love. He became an athlete, actor, and advocate.
A review of 300-400 words cannot possibly convey the poignancy of this story. It is well-written, with a sprinkling of enjoyable observations, such as an anecdote about acclimating to Miami in August, and the bug life “spawned by the moisture.” Victor Rivas Rivers also shares his survival lessons as he pushes through his tough assignment.
As an author of a memoir with the same topics, I can identify with the ironic twists and turns of the home-site battlefield, as well as the universal themes of triumph over tragedy. As an advocate, I would recommend this book as “a must read” for breaking the silence and cycles of violence and challenging society to promote peace in our homes.
High On Arrival
a memoir by Mackenzie Phillips
Imagine a child knocking on her parent's door to get her father's attention. He says, “Not now, darling, Daddy's shooting up.” What does that tell the child about the pervasive self-absorption of drug addicts? Of course, the message to the child is that the drugs are more valuable than any child's desire for love, affection, and attention.
Sexual assault, addiction, and suicide are unsolved social problems that carry stigmas. The stigmas cast a code of silence that do not solve problems. Mackenzie has shattered the silence in the most public of venues. She has endured the risk of rejection by her peers, the backlash of a celebrity community that protects its so-called legendary “heroes” like John Phillips, and the untoward questions of ignorant interviewers who ask her about father-daughter incest: “Did you enjoy it?” Furthermore, she has been publicly discredited by her own step-mother, Michelle, who was in a relationship with John Phillips since she was sixteen. Where were her morals? He was an (older) married man with two children. Where were his values? The burden is on the victim (Mackenzie) to relive, recover from, and revitalize a life that was traumatized in a hedonistic family lacking respect and responsibility.
If we read between the lines of a story about a rich and famous family, we will see Mackenzie's insight: “… if real stories of love and incest and survival are kept behind the closed doors of therapists' offices and judges' chambers, then current and future victims are destined to do what I did: to weather it alone, to blame themselves, to hide behind drugs…” Incest does not just “happen” like a random fender-bender on the freeway. It is a calculated event of power and control and abuse of trust. These real stories are all too rampant in “ordinary” families that do not have the resources for rehabilitation.
Mackenzie Phillips wrote a memoir that is candid and cathartic. She makes public a story that is held private, and for that she is courageous. She received the Darkness to Light “Voice of Courage” award at the Circle of Light gala.
Finding Angela Shelton
a memoir by Angela Shelton
Angela Shelton continues her heroic journey with her memoir Finding Angela Shelton . She writes her story as a reflection of the award winning documentary Searching for Angela Shelton . In the pages of Finding Angela Shelton , the reader experiences even more of Angela's courageous dive into the deep dark dirty waters of incest.
Angela Shelton did not intend to make a film on incest; there was an evolution toward the truth when she discovered that one in three women is a victim of abuse. She offers self-disclosure in the documentary while interviewing other women named “Angela Shelton.” In Finding Angela Shelton she generously offers more by clarifying the results of abuse, which include self-loathing and self-injury.
Angela Shelton's writing style reflects how she appears face-to-face. She uses crisp and concise sentences that are as down-to-earth on the page as she is in person or on video. The reader does not have to read between the lines, because her authenticity makes it clear: Child abuse is an epidemic social problem. To talk about abuse, to write about incest, and to document victims contributes to the awareness that is needed in our society. This is exactly what Angela does in Finding Angela Shelton .
When you read Finding Angela Shelton , you will feel the frustration and devastation of child abuse. You will also feel the hope and healing. This clarifies the waters, washing us clean, making us whole in one short but fulfilling story.
It Happens Every Day: Inside the World of a Sex Crimes D. A.
by Robin Sax
Robin Sax is an expert on sex crimes against children. She was a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted offenders for the child sexual assault division. As an attorney and advocate for victims' rights, she appears to be as passionate about her work as she is knowledgeable.
Sax says she wrote the book to illustrate what transpires when a district attorney prosecutes a child sexual assault case. Using a no-nonsense style of writing, Sax shows the reader how the criminal justice system works, or does not work, for its victims. She incorporates case studies as well as descriptions of crime scenes and victim statements to get her main point across: “child sexual assault has become a social epidemic.”
The book is divided into two parts, “Behind the One-Way Mirror” and “Behind Counsel Table.” Sax shows ways in which cases are investigated, how children are treated through the process, and what happens when a perpetrator is convicted. The reader learns about the justice system without the sensationalism of TV court drama. Sax provides an extensive appendix, separates fact from fiction, and offers her expert opinions.
Whether or not a victim pursues a criminal charge against a perpetrator, this is what Robin Sax knows for sure: sex crimes “will affect the victim's outlook on life, decisions, and relationships for the rest of his or her life.”
Any advocate, expert, and concerned citizen should read this book to help protect children and raise awareness because 93% of victims know their attackers.
Also by Robin Sax: Predators and Child Molesters: What Every Parent Needs to Know
Predators, Pedophiles, Rapists & Other Sex Offenders
by Dr. Salter
received a Masters degree in Child Study and a Ph.D in Psychology and Public Practice, and she has been building her expertise in child abuse since the 1970s. She makes her position clear in the: “Victims were the result, not the cause, of the problem.” What, if anything, can be done about offenders? To determine an answer, Dr. Salter interviewed offenders and developed educational films from those sessions.
Denial is the refusal to acknowledge the existence or severity of unpleasant external realities or internal thoughts and feelings. Society denies the cruelties of predators in our communities, while also denying the effects of sex abuse on victims. The remedy for denial is information, and the knowledge of what it takes to keep our children safe. Dr. Salter's book offers the awareness needed to prevent the perpetuation of sex offenses in our neighborhoods. The reader is not asked to understand predators but to identify them.
A premise of the book is in the phrases “No opportunity. No abuse.” Dr. Salters states that it is the parent's responsibility to “avoid situations where sexual abuse is possible.” She urges parents to supervise their children during community activities. This presumes that a child has caring parents who take the time to determine what sexual abuse is and when abuse is possible. It's possible that a child does not have such a parent. Therefore, it is up to the community to be wise about the manipulations of a predator.
Predators is divided into eleven chapters, with a full Index, Bibliography, and Notes that offer specific information to lay people and academics alike. Delving into the predators' consciousness and lack of conscience via Dr. Salters interviews is no easy task. However, she urges us to know what they look for so that we can protect ourselves and our children.
Whispers From Within: A Survivor's Collection of Poetry and Prose
by John Harrison
John Harrison published his private poems to raise awareness of child abuse and its consequences. He does this eloquently in the words of this collection.
Mr. Harrison endured the horrors of child abuse, its multiple and complex ramifications, as well as the neglect and ignorance of the systems that should serve to protect. Abuse is not only the actions, but also the attitudes in our society. He shares this in a style that is not contrived.
The introduction tells the back story with raw expression. It is rooted in the reality of an abuse survivor who had the foundation for a safe and strong life ripped out from under him. The writing is uncensored and sensitive. The reader will say, “That's exactly what I was thinking/feeling but could not put into words.” Mr. Harrison writes these thoughts and emotions with an edge that is too clever to ignore.
Mr. Harrison writes to make sense of the craziness that is nonsense, such as the ways humans inflict pain on each other. He also offers the reader moments of grace and mercy, all of which help to acquire knowledge in the school of life.
Emotions are universal; readers can relate to the poems that express his search for meaning, the hunger for understanding, and the need for justice. The poems are poignant and powerful, with profound phrases that are enlightening.
Read this collection of poems from a survivor's perspective, and the words will surely resonate with you. Thank you Mr. Harrison for telling it like it is.
You can read more about John Harrison and his work at http://www.Bsafe1stalways.com
Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery
by Patricia Weaver Francisco
I first read Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery by Patricia Weaver Francisco in 2001, when I thought, “How could anyone write about that ?” A decade later, with a memoir of my own, I read Telling again to see what I missed. How courageous and generous the author was in sharing her story! It is difficult to revisit the horrible crime of rape and its devastating ramifications. However, as Francisco says, the crime frequently revisits the victim: “...triggered and triggered in exhausting rounds of shutting out thoughts only to have them arise again.”
Not only does Francisco write about her experience of rape, she also explains society's myths, the consequences of these myths, and the changes that must be made. Ours is a culture that blames the victim, protects the perpetrator, and lacks in justice. But what makes this book compelling is the excellent writing that moves the reader through this personal story with a powerful reach toward hope. Francisco loses so much to this crime, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, yet gains in different measures in future time. She candidly shows the reader the losses and gains, and writes with eloquence.
While she attempts to embark on a journey of recovery, Francisco explores sexism and feminism. She writes about anger, action, love, loss, and labor. There are no cliches. She says that her “return to health was because of rather than in spite of other human beings.” If you or someone you know has experienced rape, this is a “must read” for understanding, compassion, and strength.
After Silence: Rape and My Journey Back
by Nancy Venable Raine
After Silence: Rape and My Journey Back is well-written and emotionally charged. In the introduction, the author says that the police told her that she “was lucky not to have been murdered.” That is how horrible it is to be raped: it is a crime so heinous as to be associated with murder. However, the author did not feel lucky. She felt alone, especially since rape is shrouded in silence, shame, and stigma.
It's the victim that carries those negative feelings, and Raine explains the emotional capacity of a rape victim in heart wrenching detail. Fear is the most obvious, superseding other feelings no matter the occasion. Fear and the fear of fear rises, taking up a permanent place in the psyche that did not exist before the rape. Raine develops a “before” identity and an “after” identity, and can never get back to the woman who had not been raped.
Throughout this thought-provoking book, Raine weaves commentary about society by using a variety of references, such as fiction and its treatment of rape scenes as well as literature from psychology. She writes about PTSD, quoting Judith Herman's Trauma and Recovery extensively. Raine explains, “For traumatic experience, ‘forgetting' is impossible, yet ‘remembering' s the last thing you want to do.” Her exploration into her self is painful, yet anyone who reads this will benefit from her insight and intelligence.
Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption
by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton with Erin Torneo
Picking Cotton is co-authored by a victim of rape and the man who was falsely accused of the crime, with the assistance of writer Erin Torneo. The format alternates from Jennifer's to Ronald's perspectives and the story reads like a documentary.
Picking Cotton opens with a “happily ever after” prologue that took decades to reach. The interim was an excruciating journey of mistakes and misery. Within the story, there are racial issues to explore, as well as pros and cons in the criminal justice system.
The story starts with Jennifer's point of view. After briefly establishing her routines and relationships for the readers, we see how her college life is immeasurably altered when she is raped. Jennifer endures the examination at the hospital; she has to repeatedly tell the details to detectives; she faces the disengaged attitudes of her family and boyfriend. In these relationships, the reader sees a victim-blaming society in action: Jennifer's mother wonders if what she wore had something to do with being attacked; Jennifer's boyfriend asks her if she enjoyed it. Jennifer courageously moves through the legal system, and eventually moves on.
On the local news, Ronald sees that the police are searching for him as a suspect. Only twenty-two years old, his simple life becomes immeasurably complicated when he is arrested. He is treated as though he were already found guilty. Ronald is equally courageous as he moves through a legal system that is out to get him, no matter what. Ronald spends more than a decade in prison, acclimating to the dismal culture of those incarcerated for life. He is guilty until DNA proves him innocent. He has to start over.
This book needed to be written so that readers witness the capacity of human will, the fate from human error, and the resiliency of spirit from both sides of the story.
by Alice Sebold
Lucky by Alice Sebold was published in 1999 and has hundreds of editorial and reader reviews. It is a seminal memoir on the subject of rape, giving permission to other victims to break their silence. The book is so important, it merits opinion eleven years later.
The book begins with the terrifying experience of the author being raped. It's graphic, it's real, and it hurts to read. Alice was able to tell the events in a clear voice that could have gotten lost in the chaos of the long ordeal. A memoir about rape is a writing nightmare, yet Sebold creates enough connection between author and reader to generate compassion for the victim and rage at the perpetrator. Then, he apologized!
Alice had few friends to run to, and relied on acquaintances and strangers to help her in the aftermath, which is ugly, painful, and infinite. Within the story, the reader will find exactly how a rape victims feels: “damaged goods, ruined.” Or from a different planet.
Sebold examines her family dynamics as she tries to recover. It appears that each member of her family lives on a different planet, revolving around each other but never really making contact. Her mother has anxiety; her father is isolated; her sister is perfect. This sets Alice up for taking the journey alone while trying to maintain her sanity, a grade point average, and the court proceedings.
The transcripts of the court proceedings are long and arduous. One can only imagine what it must have been like for Alice to be the witness in her rape trial, being put on the spot, with soiled underwear sworn into evidence. You'll find clever comments by Sebold that help the reader grasp intonations of sarcasm and scorn from the perpetrator's attorneys. Sebold was strong enough to survive when others would have folded.
Alice admitted to a common result of sexual violence, which is using drugs to escape. She discovered that she has post-traumatic stress disorder. She does not sugar-coat the violence that is rape, the intimidation that is the criminal justice system, or the ironies of life that is stranger than any fiction.
The Source of All Things
by Tracy Ross
The Source of All Things is literally and figuratively a healing journey. Ross embraces the wilderness as the vehicle that transports her from victim to survivor. Along the way, Ross seeks to make sense of the child sexual abuse she experienced. There may be maps to navigate the natural world, but no directions for exploring the alien territory of abuse.
In the aftermath of her biological father's sudden death, Ross' mother marries a man who becomes devoted to her children. At four-years-old, Tracy adores her step-father, who protects her, provides for her, and engages her in outdoor sports, hiking trails, and camping trips. By the time Tracy is eight-years-old, her step-father is also molesting her. He infiltrated a vulnerable family, and advanced on the girl like a vulture. Yet her mother is depressed and disengaged from the family unit, so many steps behind the reality of what her husband is doing that she never catches up to meet Tracy's needs.
At sixteen-years-old, Tracy is strong enough to fulfill her own need for surviving abuse and betrayals. She enters a boarding school and embarks on wilderness adventures. Sometimes these travels require risking her life. Other times, Tracy finds comforts in nature that manage her self-destructive behavior. Child sexual abuse violates boundaries, and trekking through mountain valleys and desert floors offer boundless opportunities for Tracy's hope and healing.
Chapter 21, titled “Shooting Stars (or Birth Stories) reveals to the reader how child sexual abuse may affect every area of a victim's life, including marriage, pregnancy, birth, and parenting. There are no clear paths to healing these wounds; Tracy uses nature like others use art or music.
Tracy confronts her step-father about thirty years after the sexual assaults. She takes him back to the source, where the abuse first occurred. As he admits to abusing her, she questions if she could forgive him. She writes, “Love cuts with a serrated blade, and there are shreds of my feelings that form an unbreakable bond to my parents.” This is my point of departure, where I wonder just how much compassion a survivor of child abuse has to exert for a confirmed sexual predator.
This memoir is well-written and well worth reading. A victim may see that he/she is not alone in the conflicting emotions and ambivalent feelings. Ross shows great courage in telling her story to bring awareness to the absolute devastation of child sexual abuse, and the long journey of recovery.
Crash Into Me: A Survivor's Search for Justice
by Liz Seccuro
Liz Seccuro spent years building her world anew after it had been destroyed by rape when she was seventeen. The strong foundation of her carefully structured life was weakened when the rapist, William Beebe, dared to contact her twenty-two years after the assault. Ms. Seccuro wrote Crash Into Me as a concise narrative that documents the complex true story of surviving after rape, and seeking the justice victims deserve.
Ms. Seccuro conveys how she feels as she engages the rapist in email correspondence. The exchanges prompt her to take on the seemingly insurmountable task of pressing charges against the man who had assaulted her when they were at the University of Virginia in 1984.
The reader sees the wide net of protection that is cast upon institutions that value the status-quo. It is disturbing to hear how society defends the perpetrator while blaming the victim. It is maddening to read that: “in a rape case, it is never, ever the alleged rapist on trial, whether in the courtroom or in the media. The victim is on trial. Always.” (p. 114) No wonder victims do not dare report!
Ms. Seccuro candidly reveals the details of her experience, and the story yields even more brutality and betrayal. She balances her emotional content with the inclusion of court documents (which left me shaking my head in disbelief at the absurdity of the questions posed by the defendant's attorney to the witness, the victim herself). She deepens the readers empathy with every impossible decision she must make. How hard do rape victims have to work to empower themselves as individuals and in society?
Seccuro's singular book speaks volumes about the priggish institutional systems and the precision in which they cooperate to cover-up crime. How can a medical facility turn away a rape victim? (This was the case for seventeen year old Liz). Crash Into Me is a fast-paced, riveting read, written with clarity and courage. Bravo to Liz Seccuro!
Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story
by Lynn C. Tolson
Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story .. a Hollywood Story? One has to keep two things in mind when reading Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story: first this is a memoir, a true story and not atop the best-seller list. Why not? And second, why hasn't Lynn C. Tolson written more books? Beyond the Tears grabs the reader from page one and does not let go. Tolson's story is deftly woven into conversation and story-telling and sprinkled with self-revelation along the way. This is the story of a young woman who, after a serious but unsuccessful attempt to take her own life, finds an amazing counselor and begins a journey of self-discovery and healing. It may be classified as a “self-help” book but it goes so far beyond that. It does fit firmly into the genre of memoir although much of what is remembered is emotionally painful to read. Imagine living it . Tolson's story starts in a dysfunctional, middle-class family in the Poconos and New Jersey (Think Billy Joel's “Captain Jack”) and moves out west to the wide open desert of Arizona.
Sexually abused and assaulted as a child, locked up in a mental ward as a teenager and feeling numb and lost as a young adult, Tolson turned to suicide as an answer. After that, we follow the road that led her to such a desperate act. The writing, however, is not desperate. It is thoughtful, artistic and full of rich detail that transports the reader into the chasm that was Tolson's life. There are many reasons to publish a book independent of a traditional publisher. It may be called self-publishing (with the baggage associated with that moniker) but this book is definitely not in that genre. Tolson, herself, says she went the self-publishing route because she was diagnosed with breast cancer and didn't know if she had the years traditional publishers can take to get her story out.
Beyond the Tears , is as fascinating to read as a horror-movie is to watch. In fact, it would make a fine mini series. Hollywood? It is also as beautifully-written as an Arizona sunset. (review by Karen Sucharski, (former) journalist for The Gazette , Colorado Springs)
God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F*cked:
Tales of Stand-up, Saturday Night Live, and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem
by Darrell Hammond
Darrell Hammond has offered our society a story about pop-culture by describing his work as a comedian. He has also generously shared that which we don't see beneath the mask of entertainer: the depths to which child abuse destroys the psyche. A writer who can tell this story of trauma, its ramifications, and recovery is generous enough to let others know that they are not alone. It is significant to solving social problems when a celebrity reveals that all that glitters is not gold; breaking the silence of child abuse is a courageous step toward awareness of the need for prevention. Mr. Hammond describes the crisis ridden life he led, which he fed with alcohol, drugs, and a constant need for intervention.
The audience of Saturday Night Live may enjoy the behind-the-scenes activity of Hammond's career on the show. However, audiences of his award-winning acting may not have known the origin of his genius. Apparently, his voice was not heard as a child, until he noticed that his mother would often stop abusing him when he mimicked others' voices. He tells the readers how he developed this talent as a means of self-protection. Hammond writes poignantly about his father and their relationship, or lack thereof. Meanwhile, Hammond felt scared to death of the world at large. The fear shadowed him, and showered him with insecurities that led to multiple self-destructive behaviors. The pressurized public life as an entertainer and the intense private life as a trauma victim was his reality in paradox.
The writing style seems appropriate for the man and the material. There is no sensationalizing of the trauma he endured; he tells this story as it unfolds for him, in unbearable explosions of flashbacks and nightmares. Hammond is tortured, as was his cold father and cruel mother, but he does not torment the reader with unnecessary scenarios of abuse. He gives the reader enough details of the child abuse to understand his inner hell. After countless rehabs and psych wards, misdiagnosis and medications, he also gives the reader reason to hope for Hammond's continuation in recovery and contentment in relationships.
Beyond Survivor: Rising from the Ashes of Childhood Sexual Abuse:
Collection of Writings
by Jan L. Farina
The victims of child abuse often hold their secrets because the truth of their experiences
is too much to bear. Often it takes a lifetime to process the agonizing reality of child
abuse and its long-term effects on the victim. Jan L. Frayne, a male survivor of
childhood sexual abuse, has revealed his secrets in a generous effort to raise
awareness of child abuse, to reduce the stigma associated with sexual abuse, and to
increase hope for survivors.
Mr. Frayne has taken on this monumental task though his writing, which tell the story in
prose and poetry. A reader will hear the angst of a victim as he processes the torment of
abuse and the suffering of survivors. His voice speaks for the millions of other boys who
cannot find the words to tell of their secret pain.
The poetry is gifted yet not esoteric; it is expressive but not graphic. The raw honesty
and emotional content of Frayne’s writing makes it relatable to survivors and readable to
anyone interested in the plague upon our planet, which is the prevalence of pedophiles
and perpetrators who prey upon children. We should all be interested in protecting our
Mr. Frayne offers us a perspective on the plight of male victims/survivors of child abuse.
This is a necessary element in eradicating the plague so that our children can grow up
with a sense of safety, and can mature to reach their full potential. Thank you Jan for
having the courage to use your talent for writing in a way that is meaningful to society.