Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I am ashamed that this woman never held her father accountable for his actions. Her weakness is unbelievable.

"I am ashamed that this woman never held her father accountable for his actions. Her weakness is unbelievable."

So wrote a "reviewer" of my book, "No Tears for my Father" Based on that 2-line review, she gave the book a 2-star rating. If I were this "reviewer", I would be ashamed of being listed as a "reviewer". This is not how one reviews or ranks a book.

But far more important than that aspect is this one: I would be ashamed of being so judgemental. Has this person suffered childhood sexual abuse herself? Was her abuser her father? If not, how can she possibly understand the fear of a child who has been raised with physical, mental and sexual abuse? How can she understand the conflict between being abused all of her young life by a parent. Not a stranger. But a parent. Not a neighbour. A member of the family. How can she understand the long-reaching ramifications of bringing such ugliness into the extended family's life? Of the fear of not getting the justice she seeks, a justice so often denied victims in the courts? Of the fear of the abuser coming back to abuse more and even worse if the attempt to hold him accountable fails and the story has been aired far and wide.

Why did those women allegedly abused by Billy Cosby or those boys victimized by Sir Edward Heath so many years ago wait till now to speak up? Why do so many victims remain silent for so long, sometimes dying with their secret untold? Are we ALL weak? Is the reviewer above ashamed for all of us then? Oh wait. No, she's just ashamed of me because these victims have all spoken up NOW,  while these public figures are alive and can be investigated and possibly made to account for their actions? My abuser is dead. No accountability there. I let him get away with it.

Perhaps. But again, there's one huge difference between all of them and me, and all the other victims of incest who choose to remain silent: the Cosby and Heath victims weren't molested or raped daily by their own fathers. Guess what Miss or Mrs Reviewer: there is a difference here!

Regardless of what a parent does to a child, or even what a child does to a parent, there is that bond, a loyalty, or whatever you want to call it, that holds children back from ratting on a parent, just as so many parents can't hate a child who turns into a murderer. We all know what happened is wrong, but something holds us back. There is also that bond between mother and child that keeps that child from telling mommy about the bad that daddy is doing, especially when daddy has brainwashed you to believe no-one will believe you anyway. I've heard from hundreds of victims whose families have cast them out for telling lies about their father. No wonder victims choose to stay silent.

Just like I did. I elected to put up with the abuse, to die with it if necessary, rather than tell on daddy or hurt mommy. And that makes me "weak" as far as this "reviewer" is concerned.

I also elected to keep it all secret from my new family: my husband and my children, as I couldn't see how telling what happened while my father was still alive could possibly benefit me or my family. Instead, it could have torn us apart. My husband might have killed my father on learning the truth. Would he then deserve to go to jail for killing my abuser? And what of my children and their grandmother had they learned the truth while my father was still alive? How could blowing this all open while my father was alive benefit those I loved more than myself? Their happiness mattered more to me than me. Yep. I'm weak...if that's how one defines weakness.

I chose to tell my story when I was ready and when my family were ready for me to share it. I shared it to help others who needed to know they are not alone. I spoke up for the voiceless who may take as many years, or even more to speak up for themselves or to hold their abusers accountable.

And I stand up for all the other "weak" victims of incest like me.  In your "weakness", in your silence, in your willingness to suffer so others may be happy, you are incredibly strong. I am proud, not ashamed, to stand with you.

©Viga Boland
Author of "No Tears for my Father", a memoir of incest.
Author of "Learning to Love Myself", a memoir of recovery after incest.
Editor of Memoirabilia, a magazine for memoir writers.


9 comments:

  1. I cannot believe what I'm reading!!!! Weakness!!!! What!!! How can 'Kindle Customer' use that word to describe Viga!! If she was weak, Viga would have dealt with her life very differently, probably falling into despair and goodness knows what else!! How weak is it that Viga relived every moment to tell of her agony, to try to help others who suffered and are still suffering from abuse? I'm so angry, I can't get my words down on here properly!! But, ( Viga....weak) ...not two words that ever should be used together. I truly admire Viga and praise her strength!!!

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    1. Thanks so much Cheriiari. Your never-ending support of what I do means so much. I appreciate and understand your outrage at this "reviewer's" ignorance and insensitivity either.

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  2. Thank you for having the strength and care for all victims to share your story.It takes more courage to keep silent and protect your family from such an ugly truth about your father.It is easy for some to judge.Walk in my shoes reviewer!Peace always,Viga.

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    1. Thank you Cochise. You have spoken an undeniable truth here. And yes, until you walk in my shoes, don't judge my actions.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this Viga and for the courage and strength that you had to write your two books. People who are not survivors of incest will never completely understand the complexity of loving the person that is your dad and hating the person who is your abuser. We, as survivors, have to face so much grief and so much fear from the incest and from breaking our silence when we are strong enough to do so. Telling our story and opening ourselves up to being vulnerable to others is not easy for a survivor because we so fear that we will not be believed and that we will be blamed for letting the incest happen or for not being able to stop it from happening again and again. But what most people very conveniently forget is that we were children. We were groomed to be accepting of their behavior because they loved us. We were afraid of the consequences of telling, even as adults. I was afraid my mom would either call me a liar or that she would blame me if I told, or that she would shoot my dad and he would die and she would go to prison leaving me homeless. Your reviewer needs to look at her own issues. Her reaction and her anger was too strong. I remember the first person who told me to stop talking about incest was herself an incest survivor who wanted to stay in denial that her issues were still affecting her life. Thank you for sharing your story, your courage and your strength.

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    1. Thank you Patricia. As we've both said time and again, those who haven't experienced our painful past and all that comes with it cannot understand. What's horrid is the speed with which they judge us. No wonder victims hesitate to "make the abuser accountable" when this is the kind of narrow thinking out there. and I agree: the reviewer needs to sort out her own issues before criticizing others. Thanks again for your support.

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  4. If this reviewer wanted to read a fairy tale with a happy ending, she should have browsed the children's section and chosen "Cinderella" or "Sleeping Beauty". It is more than obvious she has little knowledge of child abuse and the damage and secrets it causes. She also has no right to pass judgement as to why you held your secret for so long. Patricia Singleton made a great point---the victim is a child. And returning to face the past as an adult is so painful, some never manage it at all. You are far from weak, Viga, you are one of the bravest souls I know!

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    1. Thanks so much for commenting and you are absolutely right in saying it's obvious she has little knowledge of child abuse, its damage and its secrets. As such, I suppose her 2-sentence "review" should be dismissed as the uninformed comment it is. However, since it's posted on Amazon, I felt the need to refute in this post. But you know, she may actually have done me and my book a favour: it might make others curious about "No Tears for My Father". Sure hope so.

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  5. Bc no one cares about us in this world, no one cares unless you can afford treatment and or someone in your world cares enough to help you find somewhere other than seeing a counselor twice a month. There isn't enough acceptance in the world in what we've been through, especially as a woman... In the end it's always our fault

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