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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Today, I received a cheque payment for my book, "No Tears for my Father". It was accompanied by what was, for me, a heart-breaking note, so heart-breaking in fact, that I felt compelled, after a long silence, to write this blog post.

The purchaser was a woman who found out her husband of many years had been having an ongoing sexual relationship with his daughter from a previous marriage. This lady's world fell apart on learning this ugly truth, and who can blame her? She is now desperately trying to heal and get over this ugliness that she says has just about destroyed her 14-year marriage. Somehow, she feels my book will help. I find myself wondering how it can.

You see, she is furious and angry with the daughter and has banished her from their home. By doing so, it's obvious she blames the daughter for what happened between her and her father when the daughter was an adolescent. The sexual abuse started when the girl was 11 and continued into adulthood, just as mine did.

But here's the thing: it was the daughter who told her about it. Why? Why did she tell her? Did she do it because she wanted to hurt her father's wife? According to this lady, the daughter told her because, yes, she wanted to destroy the marriage. This may be so, and if it is, how horribly sad that this daughter is "in love", as it were, with her father and is now resentful of his wife.

A while back, I talked with a hairdresser who confessed to me that she had been in love with her father who began having sexual relations with her after the death of his wife. She hated herself for liking it, and when her father found a new woman and stopped the sex with his daughter, she tried suicide. When she told me about this, she was still single and unable to have a normal relationship with men, despite therapy. Her father had also passed away in the meantime. She was a broken shell of a woman who gravitated between loving and hating her father.

With her in mind, and now the daughter this lady has thrown out of the house and obviously blames for the entire sexual relationship, I ask the same question I answered for myself years ago: who really is to blame in such a situation? Did these daughters encourage their fathers? Did they ask their fathers to have sex with them when they were pre-pubescent teens? And even if they had, again, which I very much doubt, who is to blame? Who had complete control of the situation? Who should have refused to let such a situation occur and develop over the years to the extent it did that now these daughters were "in love" with their fathers? And if I hadn't been fortunate enough to find a man that I fell in love with, and through whom I found the courage to stand up to my father and get myself out of that loathsome situation, would I have ended up like them? If I believed in God, I'd be praying mighty hard right now for a "no" to that question. The thought disgusts and revolts me.

So now, back to the lady who hopes my book will help her heal. I hope it will but I believe it can only do so if she realizes that when I was that sexually abused teen, I despised what happened to me and fought it every day until I finally got away from my father. That is what she will read about in my book. She will read how my father manipulated and brainwashed me; how I was too fearful of him to fight him or tell on him; how he convinced me that no-one would believe me. And if this lady reads all that and gets it, she might, just might put the blame where it belongs: on the father and not the daughter. Perhaps she will re-think the reason the daughter told her about the incest: perhaps doing so was a plea for help. I'm willing to bet that behind the daughter's admission is yet another very mentally ill victim of incest in need of therapy.

No-one will ever convince me the child is to blame when an adult initiates sex with him/her. No-one! I hope when this lady has finished reading "No Tears for my Father", she will blame the right person: her husband.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all" if we are to be happy

One of the saddest, most heartbreaking things about being a victim of child sexual abuse (#incest) is that most of us grow up hating ourselves. Despite every effort, sometimes for years, to find something  we like about ourselves, let alone love about ourselves, we continue to find fault with ourselves. Why? Most likely because our abusers' voices keep screaming at us, reminding us we are worthless, unloveable unless we do what they want us to do. So we did it, even though it felt wrong, bad, but each time we gave in to them, we hated what was happening and hated ourselves for succumbing, being too weak to stand up to them. Then, if no-one knew what was going on and we didn't have therapy as a child or even as young adults to turn our thinking around, we grew into adulthood, middle age and even old age, if not hating ourselves, then at least, not loving ourselves either. 

When that happens, so many of us wonder why we fall in love with the wrong person and get hurt time and again. The reason is simple: we don't value ourselves enough. We don't consider ourselves worthy of love. So we sell out to what seems like the best of the worst choices. 

But you know, we don't have to do that. We can stop that from being our pattern by turning off those voices in our heads and replacing them with kinder, loving voices, the ones long ago buried inside us when we were children. Except, sadly, for those abused as infants, most young children actually really like themselves - a lot! It's narcissistic and it's perfectly natural. As young children, we want what we want and feel we should have it. Of course, parents will ultimately teach us that we can't always have what we want and that it's not acceptable to be narcissistic and think of ourselves before all others. And that's quite okay because as we get older, we understand why what they are saying is right and necessary. But abuse victims haven't had time, in many cases, to follow that more natural route to good self-love. Their journey to healthy self-love has been rudely blocked. They are plunged into self-loathing instead of brought gently from narcissism to healthy self-love. 

So now, how do we get ourselves back on track? We must begin by drinking deeply and often from the cup of self-love. I'm not talking about being selfish or narcissistic. I'm saying if a challenge comes our way, if an opportunity to move forward in our careers or personal life presents itself, we have to tell ourselves "Yes, I can do this" instead of "No, I can't". Every "NO" is disbelief in ourselves. It deepens our insecurity, feeds our negativity about ourselves and moves us further from healthy self-love. And why is self-love so important? Because without loving ourselves, we can't fully love others. We need to deems ourselves worthy of their love. By taking on more and more chances to prove our worth to ourselves, the more we are saying "Yes, I can" and "Yes, I'm okay" and "Yes, I'm loveable". It's that profound truth that Whitney Houston sung to us that "learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all". And that love is vital to happiness. 

That's what I did for the 40 plus years after I finally got away from my abuser, my father. Every time I heard his voice telling me I couldn't do this or have that, I replaced his voice with my own child's voice that said "yes, I can do this and yes, I can have that." And I added one more thing: "And you're not going to stop me!" I became a bit narcissistic again I suppose. But I needed to go there first before I could finally love myself as I had the right to love myself all along. 

I hope you'll watch my video above. It's based on the journey to self-love that I recounted in my second memoir "Learning to Love Myself". Everyone praised me for speaking out from under incest in my first book, "No Tears for my Father" but this second book is just as important, maybe even more so because of the hope it offers victims that we can have a better tomorrow. On this Valentine's Day, 2015, I wish you love. 

SPECIAL OFFER: Visit my website store at and order your copy, printed or digital format of "LEARNING TO LOVE MYSELF" before February 17, 2015 and save 20% on your purchase when you type "tearsofjoy" into the coupon box on checkout. (no quotation marks!)

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Something was said today in one of my Facebook groups that got me really thinking about this question. We were discussing how some victims of incest, or any childhood sexual abuse. do manage to "get over it" enough to move onto productive, fulfilling lives and others never "get over it" at all. They live out their lives, if you can call it "living", in non-stop agony, self-recriminations, and self-hatred.

The topic had come up in relation to the slower-than-hoped-for sales of my second book, "Learning to Love Myself".  I thought victim/survivors would embrace a book that shows a positive outcome after sexual abuse. My first book, "No Tears for my Father" literally flew off the shelves, but this second book, which is actually a much pleasanter read about rebirth and recovery is being passed by. Don't victims want to heal? Don't victims want to believe a happy life is possible after all? Is all they were looking for in that first book was reassurance they weren't alone or validation for their feelings?

This got me thinking about my own father. Why was my memoir of incest titled "No Tears for my Father". Was the word "father" in the title accurate? I hated the man who abused me. He had no right! But he was my father. And because he was my father, despite what he did to me, I couldn't 100% hate him. 

This is one of the greatest ironies and agonies of incest between father/daughter or as it does happen, mother/son. There is that bond, the loyalty to the family, that transcends all the horrid aspects of sexual abuse by a parent. The victim, the child, loathes what is being done to him or her, can't understand it, wishes it would stop, but deep down, they still love the parent who once hugged them, loved them, cared for them, gave them life. Even in my own case, when my father wasn't doing the deed, he would talk with me, care about me, counsel me. At times, he seemed to show me more love than my mother did. In hindsight, looking at it now over the great distance of 46 years, I know that in my case, and I speak here only of my case, my father did love me. It was a bad love for me, but he genuinely loved, and was in love with me. Yes, it sounds yukky and it was wrong. But it's the only excuse or reason I can give for his behaviour. 

So, that brings me back to the title question: is it possible to love and hate your sexually abusive father? Yes, because we don't actually hate the person; we hate the situation, and we transfer the hatred of that situation onto the person. Perhaps that's why people stay in abusive relationships of all kinds: they still love the person; they hate the situation, and until they find the strength, as I ultimately did, to get out of that situation, they also hate themselves. And at the same time, we are so overwhelmed with guilt, not just over what happened to us, but guilt over both loving/hating that person, it makes it all that much harder to heal.

Learning to love ourselves after getting out of a situation like incest or child sexual abuse is probably the hardest part of recovery. It's harder than facing the flashbacks; harder than the horrid nightmares; harder than the feelings of shame and fear of telling others the ugly truth. But if we can find the courage, hopefully through therapy or the love of another person, to face all those things, we can finally reach the state I did in my book, "Learning to Love Myself"

I hope those of you reading this post will one day decide it's time to read a book about the other side of child sexual abuse that relates the rebirth and self-discovery of the beautiful human beings we all are, children who once endured so much pain, but came out on top to love themselves and others again.