Sexual Abuse Memoirs: They're Still Relevant
When I started this blog, I wanted to start a conversation relevant to my memoir, but I was afraid I would exhaust the subject--or that the subject would exhaust me. The sad truth is the topic of sexual abuse, assault, harassment, and molestation cannot be exhausted. At least not in our current society. The news provides a constant stream of horror stories of high profile cases. Politicians, scout leaders, police officers, priests. Every group we're supposed to revere is represented, and it's easy to find it depressing. But there is a silver lining. The good news is that all of these stories have something encouraging in common--someone stepped forward to claim the truth and hold a perpetrator accountable. For me that's why I wrote my book.
The other impetus was the startling number of girls who wrote about similar incidents while sitting in the English classes I taught over the years. And there was one girl in particular who was sexually harassed by the same teacher who was also harassing me. I was an adult who could better navigate the situation. But she was only 16, and she reminded me of myself as I tried to fend off my stepfather's advances. It was the proverbial straw that broke the back of my silence.
I wrote the book to channel my outrage and to give a voice to all the girls who remain silent when they’re violated. I've recently been reminded of why this is so important. When Bill Cosby's victims came forward too many people asked "Why did they wait so long?" Too many people asked the same question when Bill Clinton's accusers came forward as well. The reality is that it's unbelievably hard to come forward to face the scrutiny that will come with your accusation, the alienation, the attempts to discredit and silence you. It's a defense mechanism that some survivors employ for a lifetime.
But some of us can't stay quiet.
Writing Losing the Dollhouse helped me reclaim my voice and put my story down so I could finally forgive everyone involved, including myself. These types of stories aren't going away. They're often difficult to read, and even more difficult to live. But the act of telling is simultaneously an act of war and redemption. There are few things as liberating and healing as telling the truth and then unleashing that tale on the world so that it may set someone else free as well. That's my hope for the recent onslaught of high profile cases in the media--that they embolden survivors to speak up and tell their stories. Please feel free to share your stories and thoughts in the comments. You can also follow this conversation on Goodreads by clicking here.