Thursday, May 23, 2013


While my husband and I were discussing titles for my upcoming book about incest the other  day, I shared with him some of the heartaches I hear coming from members of my private Facebook Group, SPEAK OUT FROM UNDER CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN FAMILIES. 

Honestly, it is sometimes so painful to hear what victims of incest have suffered at the hands of fathers, brothers, mothers, uncles and others. What's even more painful is hearing how hard it is for them to now speak up, to name their abusers, primarily for fear of what friends, family and even loved ones say when they listen to their stories. They get everything from "I'm so sorry for you but you must move on and just forget about it" to "Don't! Don't dare disgrace our family by talking about this!" or even "I don't believe you. You're making it all up. Why would your father or brother do that! How could you let it happen?"

And so, victims of childhood sexual abuse are re-victimized over and over again by their friends and loved ones who care more about keeping everything hidden and quiet than about the victim or about  exposing someone who most likely has gone on to abuse others, or in some cases, is so high profile, no-one dares say anything for fear of reprisal. How fair is that? Worse yet, how can such victims heal when, even if they share their stories, they can't name their abusers? They know by not doing so, they are, as it were, assisting a criminal in continuing to hurt others. Their burden of guilt and shame for their past and now their present silence is doubled. Healing cannot ever really take place under such constraints.

So while I write and edit my book in the hopes it will help to encourage others to come and speak out from under childhood sexual abuse and incest, I realize how much easier it must seem for me to do this NOW. My abuser is long dead. So is his wife, my mom. I have no sisters or brothers or other living relatives on my side who can make me keep my mouth shut. There is, of course, my husband and my children, and my husband's extended family which is large. They could be uncomfortable by my revelation, but again, I'm lucky: they have encouraged me to do this and the extended family doesn't even live in the same country as we do. So one could say, "sure, it's easy for YOU to do now."

Well you know what? Not really. It's not easy at all because there's nothing easy about your friends and your children's friends knowing that you had sex with your father, your children's grandfather!  Even more, how do you explain that this wasn't a one-time thing? Rape is horrid, but it's usually a one-time thing and no-one can or should blame the victim. But incest that goes on for years and years? That's repeated rape but what's an outsider to think? Most will say, if it was that bad, how could you let him rape you year in and year out? Even my husband, who I know loves and believes me when I say this was not my idea or desire, said to me when we had that chat:

"Yes, how do you explain incest that goes for years, or, as in your case, incest that started when you were almost 12?"

When he said that, I couldn't help but wonder if there was doubt of my innocence even in his mind? Though he's never said it, I'm sure he's puzzled as to why I let it go on for so long, why I didn't up and run away, why I didn't turn my father in, etc etc. And those are very understandable questions to which, sadly, there are no easy or quick answers but which I hope will come clear in my book. Yes, it does look like somehow I might have condoned it, even possibly liked it to have let it go on for 12 years, and, yes, after all, I was old enough to understand what he was doing and how wrong it was when he began. No, I wasn't an infant, or even a 5 or 7-year-old who couldn't have invited the sexual abuse. I was nearly a woman myself! So then, now, I too must prepare myself for the non-believers, those who will accuse me of being as guilty as my father was, of enjoying it, of aiding and abetting him in his crime against me.

Perhaps I will live to regret that I told my story, but I'm willing to take that risk because my story must be told: only by doing so, can the non-believers, the accusers come just a little closer to understanding how something like this could go on for years, and how, I was, and still am, blameless.

To do that, my story must begin, as it does, at the beginning, with my childhood, so one can see and sense the growing fear a child develops of a controlling father who can cleverly manipulate your thoughts with his words and actions, a fear so strong that in the end you do whatever you are told to do for fear of your sanity and your life. That is the curse of incest and child sexual abuse, regardless of when it starts.

And that curse never fully goes away.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


It's been a long time since my last post. Illness has plagued me for the last few months. Even writing my book has been difficult. But at last, I am on the final chapters, and as I wrote the following this morning, I recalled how difficult it was those first few weeks after finally extricating myself from my father's control and sexual abuse. When you're contemplating breaking away, you find a million reasons to go and double that to stay put. Your need for freedom, to be yourself, to have a normal life (if normal is ever possible again) propels you to do something. But your fear of the abuser, of being alone, of where to go and what to do next, holds you back time and again. 

All decisions come with similar quandaries, but some are much easier to make than walking from the only life you've known into an unknown, unsure future. You forever wonder if you are doing the right thing. When you have been made to feel blame, guilt for all the bad things in your life, it's hard to think that what you are doing isn't just another bad thing. Depending on the abuser's reaction to your decision, he/she can make you feel guilty and horrible all over again, reminding you of how selfish you are by breaking away and thinking only of yourself, when that is what he/she has been doing all along!

It may take years, not days or even months, to know if the decision to get out of your old life was the right one, but then again, ask yourself, what is right about staying in a life where you are the constant victim of sexual, mental and physical abuse? 

So, on that note, I now share with you my latest, unedited section of my as yet, un-named book, a true story of incest. Your feedback is most welcomed. Thanks for taking the time to read the following which describes my immediate reactions to making the decision to walk away from incest:

"The next 4  - 6 weeks were traumatic. For the first time in my life I was on my own, though not alone. It all felt so strange. I felt empowered but insecure, experienced but naive, liberated but lost.

This was 1971 and living together, even if engaged, wasn't what nice girls did. John had been raised in a very Catholic family: he still attended Sunday Mass and for me to move in with him, though tempting, was somehow sinful. And besides, the two of us could never fit in the tiny single bed in his basement apartment!

So I rented a pokey room in a rooming house with a single set of rickety drawers and the lumpiest bed ever. The other tenants, by my father's standards, were the low-life's of this world: waitresses, factory floor-sweepers, divorcees ... folks who lived from paycheck to paycheck when they could get a job or keep one long enough to buy the next bottle of plonk or pack of cigarettes. It was eye-opening for me to mix with people like this, so different from my family's circle of friends or even my fellow staff-mates. 

It was simultaneously scary and exciting for me to live temporarily with this group, scary because I kept envisioning one of the drunken men coming into my room to try and have their way with me, but exciting because of finally having the freedom to come and go as I pleased. That was such a new experience and with every day, I liked it more and more: no longer having to ask a man for  permission to go here or go there, to do this or do that! I could wear what clothes I wanted, experiment with makeup and leave it on, choose what to do with my time when I wasn't teaching or with John planning the wedding ... the freedom was exhilarating! The teenager I was never allowed to be resurfaced. I was almost as giddy as the Grade 9 and 10's I was teaching, even feeling like one of them at times, understanding instead of disapproving their silliness and youthful exuberance. For the first time since that day my father decided to educate me about men, I felt almost normal.

And yet, as I tossed about on that lumpy mattress at night, I battled guilt: I felt guilty about the chaos I had caused my parents; I felt guilty about leaving mom alone to clean up the debris of the storm I had rained down on their lives; and I felt guilty about the misgivings I was having about marrying a man I truly barely knew! 

John and I had had anything but a normal courtship. We'd never really dated. Our times together had been stolen moments in his car or the school janitor's closet, a quick grabbed lunch at a local hot food place, a movie with mom tagging along, a short but lovely trip to Niagara Falls on icy roads that nearly landed us in a ditch, or furtive cuddles on an old mattress in our basement while mom kept nervous watch at the window upstairs. What did I know about this man I was about to marry? I'd never met his family. He talked non-stop about returning to his beloved Australia, a thought that terrified me. His greatest passions were cars,  aircraft and photography, all of which meant little to me, and he had no interest in live theatre, musicals, writing poetry or the pursuits I enjoyed. How could we possibly build a life together when we didn't really have that much in common?

I truly began to question what I had done. Would I end up wrecking John's life too? And what of myself? I'd spent 23 years dominated by a control freak of a father. Now, I finally had a taste of what it was like to be on my own, answering to no-one but myself. Was I now so quickly about to give away that expensively acquired freedom to walk up the wedding aisle and once again have to answer to a male for the rest of my life? I tossed and turned on that lumpy mattress suddenly wishing I could just disappear to explore my freedom more fully, more deeply and most importantly, to find that teenager who was buried beneath the dirt in those nightmares that had plagued me through so many  years of abuse.