Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The last book I read ...

was challenging, confronting and nasty.  I feel more than a little sick, and my heart aches.

As I have often said, memoirs, diaries, biographies are always on my go-to list.

I picked this one up for two reasons: because of my curiosity about other people's lives; and as an education.


It looks innocent enough doesn't it?  Wrong, wrong and wrong.  This is definitely a book which shouldn't be judged by it's cover.

Many of you know that I volunteer on a telephone crisis line.  I take it very seriously, and am constantly trying to improve..  Which means reading, studying, listening and learning about subjects I don't know a lot/enough about, even when they are distasteful.  Sometimes a different perspective will open my eyes, heart and mind and help me reach and connect with our callers better.

Distasteful is an understatement here.  The author was in a fifteen year relationship with a man forty-four years older than her.  A relationship which started when she was seven.

 'We were friends, soul mates and lovers.'
'I still think about Peter, the man I loved most in the world, all the time'...
'They were the happiest days of my life.'

 Nothing has ever brought home the horrors and the life-long damage of paedophilia to me more than this book. Nothing.  And her perspective came as a powerful punch to my gut.

She is free of him now - he died by suicide.  She has a husband and a daughter of her own.  A daughter she is working tirelessly to ensure doesn't go through what she went through and that the tradition of child abuse which ran through her mother's family and to her is stopped.

And yet, and yet...  Even though she is now safe from a man we learnt  (confirming my early suspicions) was a serial abuser of young girls, abusing his daughters, foster children, as well as the author  (and quite possibly also abusing boys) she still considers her time with him the happiest days of her life.  Words fail me.  Emotions fail me - and this book will haunt me.

As it should.

It turned my assumptions on their head.  I hope (so much) that very few people feel as she does - but I had never considered that anyone could. However reluctantly, and despite not liking what I discovered, I have learned something.





116 comments:

  1. I am stunned that she feels that those dark and evil times were the happiest times of her life. If that is so, why does she want to protect her daughter from it? It makes me ill to think of this. I sure hope she is not the one abusing now. How insidious to write a memoir then continue the cycle. Does she not realize that he was not her friend? How can she look back at him at the man she loved most in the world? And if she is married now why would her husband stay with her? Fuck!

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    1. ditchingthedog: Her family life was difficult - her mother had a mental illness and her father was emotionally abusive but no, I cannot comprehend that these times were the happiest of her life. Such a damaged woman. Yet one more thing to chalk up against her abuser.

      Delete
  2. wow just the cover makes me want to read it; strange the power people have over one another, strange indeed

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    1. Linda Starr: Strange and frightening the power that people have over each other. Sometimes for good - and this time the complete opposite.

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  3. I couldn't imagine her thinking those were the best days of her life either.
    Some sick people out there...

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    1. Alex J. Cavanaugh: Some very damaged people. She certainly was/is and Peter (perhaps truthfully) told her that he had been abused. Which doesn't make his actions right.

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  4. Well, I suspect it would not be a book I would enjoy, however, I can see how informative it would be for someone like you as a volunteer on a telephone crisis line.

    And I must admit to being somewhat confused when the author says; 'They were the happiest days of my life.'

    But after all, we are all different. Which is probably a good thing. And as Forest Gump once said; 'Life's a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get'.

    Hope all's good in your little corner of the world?

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    1. Wendy: No, it wasn't a book I enjoyed. And I doubt I will ever be able to read it again.
      This is one of the differences between people that I would like to see eradicated. A seven year old with a sex life does my head in. And for her not to see it as abuse does it in even further.
      Life is ok(ish) here. How about you?

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    2. Good to know. Sorry to hear there's an (ish) though.

      And I'm much better than yesterday. Thanks for asking :)

      Delete
  5. Manning the crisis lines brings you into touch with the huge diversity of human life and experience. It teaches you not to judge. It can also teach you something of the pain of other lives. This just sounds so desperately sad.

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    1. Relatively Retiring: Desperately, heart-breakingly sad. And yes, the crisis lines bring me a lot. Not least awe at so many people's courage when they are living through what I suspect I would consider unendurable pain.

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  6. I think I'll pass on that one thanks.

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    1. Delores: Unsurprising. NOT a pleasant read.

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  7. There are many people just the same, the world is full of them.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Bob Bushell: I wish it wasn't. How I wish it wasn't.

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    2. Bob Bushell: I think we all do. Except for the people themselves. And their wishes are not important.

      Delete
  8. I'm sure sexual abuse of children is more prevalent than we can even imagine. I tried to think of a way to describe two instances I am painfully aware of, and cannot, except to say it happens and it goes on. Has this young woman really broken the cycle? I doubt it.

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    1. Joanne Noragon: Sad and bad. And no, while she feels that the times she spent with her abuser are the happiest of her life, the cycle is not broken.

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  9. We are being bombarded with cases of historical abuse which are coming to light only now, some going back 30 or more years. Never did I imagine that pedophilia was - and probably is - so widespread. I personally have come across the odd man exposing himself as a child and on cycling trips through the woods as an adult, but never knew that there is so much suffering going on. It is inconceivable to me that such people exist.

    Having said that, this book is not one I will read. Misery memoirs have rather taken off in the last ten years or so as well, they’ve become a bandwagon going downhill faster and ever more furiously.

    I am sorry for the writer; there is something badly wrong with her.

    I once trained to become a telephone counsellor. I wasn’t accepted because I was ill at the time and the Samaritans considered only fit people to be strong enough to cope with the unhappiness of the callers.



    ReplyDelete
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    1. Friko: I was fortunate that when I did my training emotional health and empathy were considered more important than physical health. A few years later a different tack was tried - but I was already through the door.
      You are right about misery memoirs. Big, big business. I think you are also right about there being something badly wrong with this writer. So very damaged. Which made me think about the other people that 'Peter' damaged - and wonder how many of them went on to damage people themselves. Such a vicious cycle.

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  10. Replies
    1. Melissa Ann Goodwin: It was. And if it is so tough for me to read it, how much harder must it have been for her to endure it (despite her saying that it was a happy time).

      Delete
  11. Yikes. Sounds like some pretty deep stuff. No, you wouldn't get that plot from looking at the cover, for sure!

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  12. I couldn't read that book. I already know how it would make me feel...and I don't enjoy or like feeling that way...so I shall give it a miss. I'm already upset and angry just thinking about it.

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    1. Lee: I am sorry to make you upset and angry - it wasn't my intention at all. And this is not a book I would recommend to anyone.
      I knew how it would make me feel, but I read it to learn things. And did. I didn't like what I learned - but tough. If she, and so many others, can survive living it, I can survive reading about it. Once.

      Delete
    2. No...no...don't apologise, EC....no need to do so. That was not my intention to make you feel you had to do so. I was just expressing my thoughts and feelings. :)

      Delete
  13. Oh, my, what a book. He had her under his control and deserved a wretched death. As a teacher, I saw too many pedophiles and their victims. You are a brave woman to take on that book.

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    1. Susan Kane: He had so many people under his control. HIs own daughters, foster children, the writer... And I shudder to think how far the ripples extended.
      The brave people are the survivors. The ones who have a life despite him and people like him.

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  14. Sad that this happened in the first place, she had little childhood, but twice as sad that her life hasn't turned around and she still thinks this was the happiest time of her life.
    Merle....................

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    1. Merlesworld: Her childhood was never going to be good, living with a controlling emotionally abusive father and a mother with mental illness. This man ripped away any possibility for improvement though. Which makes me angry and hurts my heart.

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  15. I have read books like these...friends wonder why I read such sick stuff. My not reading it does not make it NOT happen. Knowing is difficult but should be done by people.

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    1. Bookie: Thank you. I don't read it for pleasure, as I am sure you don't. You are right though, not knowing doesn't make it go away - and perhaps more importantly doesn't stop it happening again. And not reading it would lessen my chance of helping people in similar situations...

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  16. Thank you for letting me know about the book, so I will avoid it. I recently finished a rather difficult memoir, but nothing like this one. It stays with me when I'm dropping off to sleep. You are right: I never knew there could be anyone who would find happiness in such circumstances. Mind boggling. But thank YOU for reading it and finding the words to tell me about it.

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    1. DJan: I couldn't go into the details. I don't want to think about the details. And I am still flabberghasted that she could consider him her soul mate, ...

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  17. You are brave to read this book, and to listen and help people with problems like this. I'd get angry and very depressed. How do you handle it, EC?

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    1. Guyana-Gyal: I do get angry, I do get sad. And debrief after challenging calls. Thinking that I have helped ease some of the darkness is the very best way to handle it. And sometimes I can, and sometimes I can't. Which hurts - but not enough to stop the attempt.

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  18. It's like there's a part of the author that still believes all the lies her abuser told her. I wonder if she'll ever be free of him. Very sad.

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    1. mshatch: Preferred his lies to the ones her parents told her? Preferred his reality to theirs? I don't know - but am pretty certain that while she continues to consider it a happy time she cannot be free of him.

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  19. As a therapist I worked a lot with sexual abuse victims and their families - victims too. I can understand the horror and surprise you feel. People never cease to amaze me for their survival skills as well as for the diversity of their stories, which are often too incredible. I know I won't read this book. Knowledge is never wasted though, and you learned something.

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    1. Myrna R.: How right you are, knowledge is never wasted. I expected to feel pain when I read this book (how could I not?) but was flummoxed by her assertion that they were the happiest days of her life.
      And yes, her family were also victims. And perpetrators. And victims of their own history.
      People are such complicated animals. And I am often humbled by the resilience I hear about. And awed.

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  20. What a powerful review. When I looked at the cover I thought the subject matter would be much lighter. The fact that you learned something says a lot about the book and the author. I'm glad you can take something positive away from such a sad story. It sounds like a heartbreaking book.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. DMS: The story was a tragedy. A not uncommon tragedy. Which hurts. Her perspective about the happiest days of her life forced me to re-examine prejudices and asssumptions I hold. I am appalled that she can think that way - but accept that she does.

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  21. You are the courageous reader a writer dreams of!



    ALOHA from Honolulu
    ComfortSpiral
    =^..^=

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    1. Cloudia: I am a greedy reader, but wouldn't class myself as courageous.

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  22. Wow, that does sound like a powerful book, but one I don't think I could finish. It's sad that the author feels that time is the happiest in her life. I would hope her marriage and birth of her child would be the happiest. I'm in awe of what you do. That's amazing and the fact that you what to continue to learn to be able to help says wonderful volumes about you. :)

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    1. Mason Canyon: I get a great deal more than I am able to give from my volunteering. I am often awed at the people I am privileged to speak to as well.
      And this book is powerful. Confronting. Nasty - and educative.

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  23. Maybe it was the routine, the knowledge of where she stood with him, the place, the control taken from her very very young, so that when free, she had no idea how to live, be happy, cope. Maybe that had something to do with that statement.

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    1. Strayer: I really don't know. She made him jump through some hoops too. Not the ones I would have liked to have seen him jump through, but still. He certainly flattered her - for a price. And supported what she wanted to do - when it fitted in with his plans.
      Having married and had a family it bothers me (a lot) that she still classes her time with Peter as the happiest of her life. ;

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  24. A very disturbing book which I will never read. I knew such a man as 'Peter' once, the father of my first boyfriend. There were foster daughters in that house too, and I knew what he was as soon as I met him, even though I had never known such a thing before. I broke off with my boyfriend soon after as I never wanted to be invited to the house again. I later had suspicions about a close family friend and kept a very close watch on my daughters. I trust my instincts, they've rarely let me down.

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    1. River: I am so glad you were able to trust your instincts. I suspect that part of the reason the Peters of this world succeed in what they do is that seven year olds don't have those instincts. Which is so very wrong.

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  25. I wonder if to her this all became "normal". Starting at such a young age. I just wonder how her perception of what LOVE is affected by what she went through. Was he the only one who she felt loved her. The only one who gave her attention. I guess that I am trying to understand her statement of it being the happiest time of her life. How did she ever break the circle of that guy and get into a normal life with a normal guy, Or did she? I would think that it would be hard for a man to get past her past. And for him to hear that that time of her life was the happiest time. What about now with him and their family. Too many questions to think about. My mind is racing trying to "understand" this.

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    1. Teresa: I can't understand it. Which is part of the reason the book and the experiences of the people who are forced to go through this haunts me.

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  26. my uncle was emotionally abusive to his wife and children and sexually abusive to my girl cousin. i found it interesting that she was the only person in the whole world to turn up at his funeral. there is parallel there

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    1. kylie: Before I read this book I might have thought that your cousin went to his funeral to be sure he was dead. And would have understood that.
      Now? I am not so sure, and my brain is reeling.

      Delete
    2. by the way, i actually considered tracking down this book. maybe i am just some kind of horrid voyeur but i feel like it is empowering to know these kinds of stories, if only so that i can be more sensitive to the mindset of any survivor i might identify

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    3. kylie: There are so many things that I would love a manual I trusted so that I could deal with them better, and help other people do the same. Failing that, I learn. And think. And learn. Due warning though, quite a lot of this book is all too graphic.

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  27. Replies
    1. Margaret Adamson: And those warped and twisted people warp others. And the cycle continues.

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  28. Interesting book review. You did a great job convincing me I never want to read this work.

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    1. Grannie Annie: No, not a comfortable read. Not a pleasant read.

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  29. Wow. Thank you for this review. It has educated me. I'm glad the author was brave enough to not only tell her full story, but to be honest about her emotions. The perverse concepts of loving and admiring one's abuser is...very, very difficult to accept. One of my colleagues/interns told a patient who'd been through similar that her body "betrayed" her. I liked the way she said that. It's the only way I can begin to wrap my brain around that psychological piece of the dynamic.

    Well, I hope you're taking extra good care of yourself after reading this book. xo

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    1. Rawknrobyn: 'Betrayed' by her body. I like that phrase. Thank you. And my mind is still wrestling with this book - but I am taking time out and seeing the beauty which also exists in the world. And in people.

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  30. Thank you for being you, Elephant's Child! As a survivor of extensive childhood sexual abuse, I don't think I could read this. It is frightening to me that a person could describe time with an abuser as being so happy, and yet on some level I understand that. Thank you for caring and for the positive impact you are having on those who have to deal with this kind of thing. A truly caring person can make all the difference in the life of someone who has been abused.

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    1. Jesusan: Thank you. So very much. I too was frightened (and appalled) that she could describe time with her abuser in that way. And I am very grateful to learn from another survivor that a part of you could understand where she is coming from. Much to think about, much to learn...

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  31. No don't think I could read it either ~ but appreciate your ability to learn about things which others go through. I like that about my job too ~ listening to other people's stories.

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    1. Carol: It wasn't an easy read. Just the same, if I found it difficult to read about (and I did) how much worse it must be to live it. And remember it.
      Other people's stories are a gift and a privilege. All of them.

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  32. Just reading what you wrote about it makes me sick. I'm not sure I could read this book. I comment you for your words here.

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    1. Carola Bartz: I am still, some days later, feeling sick. And shamed for our race. And amazed at the resilience of some of it. And appalled that the resilience is necessary.

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  33. I can't read stuff like this. I leave any and all underage people out of my books, at least as far as killing them goes. Why write about it or want to read it? I just don;t understand.

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    1. Stephen Tremp: Welcome and thank you for commenting. If this book was fiction I could not, would not read it. As a reflection of her reality I would not read it for pleasure. As a learning experience? I am glad I read it, and sorry that reading it is necessary.
      I don't understand and can't condone the behaviour, but burying it gives it strength to grow in the shadows.

      Delete
  34. I've heard there is sometimes a strange bond that takes place between a victim and the person abusing him/her.I don't think it's always true, but I'm sure it most def. could be true!

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    1. mail4rosey: A bond is one thing. Love is something I hadn't thought about - and which horrifies me.

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  35. You read this to help others. How I admire you for reading this book. I know I couldn't. I do know of one young woman who was abused like this by a babysitter when she was very young. She was my neighbor's daughter when we lived across the country. That person went to jail for a year, this child now a woman is still struggling. Her sentence is lifelong.

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    1. DeniseinVA: As you say, her sentence is lifelong. Which really makes a one year sentence for the perpetrator an obscenity.

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  36. Wow, that sounds really confronting. It makes me rethink the morality of it all. Does she regret any of it from happening?

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    1. Michael D'Agostino: You know I don't think she did express regret that it happened. Regret that she didn't get pregnant to him yes...

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  37. Thanks for the review. It's great when a book somehow confuses our expectations. It sounds like a good read.

    Greetings from London.

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    1. A Cuban in London: It wasn't a pleasant read, or a comfortable read - but I learned from it. Always a good thing.

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  38. I love that you do research for helping others in crisis. You're truly a blessing for many.

    The book you mentioned sounds very intense. I remember a long time ago I learned of some website from Dateline I believe, that encouraged pedophiles to meet up with young girls on this underground website. It was a consensual type of arrangement (although nothing is consensual if the young person is under 18), but the pedophile and the young person would mutually fall in love and try to get married and even go as far as try to pass a law that would enable it possible. They referred their lifestyle to the "homosexual lifestyle" -- meaning --- it was an age discriminatory law against them. They also believe that once a girl turns 12, that she is able to reproduce, therefore, able to have intercourse with any man of whatever age. It was quite an eye opener that there are still "communities" that are out there. Terrifying actually.

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    1. Deb: I need to do research. I can't see that need every stopping either.
      That website sounds right up this pair's alley - and they did go through a form of 'marriage'. And yes, I find it terrifiying, and horrifying that there are communties which feel like that.

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  39. Sounds very intense but worth reading.

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    1. ladyfi: It was intense, it was worth reading - and how I wish it wasn't.

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  40. So interesting that Fragoso would write that book and share her (positive) feelings about something so heinous as that kind of relationship. I wonder if she is she looking for some kind of validation.

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    1. Lynn: If validation was what she was after she didn't get it from me. It reinforced the horror I have always felt - and brought home the life-long damage which results from the actions of a paedophile.

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  41. As one former TC to an active TC - well done for having the sheer courage to read and to learn from this harrowing account.
    The subject leaves me drained, utterly.
    (I actually tried to leave a comment last night but my ISP had already thrown me off and poof! lost it)

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    1. Rose ~ from Oz: Child abuse and domestic violence are the callI find most challenging. And challenging they are - as you know.

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  42. wow, you really can't judge a book by it's cover!! so much to take in...

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    1. Tammy Theriault: You can't can you. One of the aphorims I agree with wholeheartedly.

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  43. I don't think I want to read this book, but I do understand the author's viewpoint. It tears my heart out that she went through this from such an early age, but pedophiles have an insidious way of making children believe what they're doing to them is an expression of deep love and caring... even worse, that they're the only ones in the world who truly care about the child's welfare. My guess is, the author's lifelong abuser may have been extremely kind to her in other ways, making it even more difficult for her to differentiate between love and abuse, especially since she didn't have a healthy relationship with her parents. Sad.

    But it's wonderful that you read it, because I think you're absolutely right. It may help you relate better to some of the people you're trying to help.

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    1. Susan: I really, really hope it does help me connect with a caller better. I thought 'Stockholm syndrome' while reading it - and grieved. And still grieve. For her life, and for so many others.

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  44. I won't read this book; I can't. It may be possible that I can offer you a perspective which will make it (slightly) more understandable:

    All children believe, at least for a time, that they are the centre of the universe and this is a perspective most paedophile's reinforce, for many reasons. As the centre of the universe, however, anything which goes wrong within their universe is viewed as the child's own fault. How can a child live with such a huge fault? Being so terribly bad?

    Either by a) Learning where blame properly lies, which is often a lifelong struggle.
    b) 'Romanticising' it, it wasn't so bad, he/she was happier than they'd ever been, etc...
    c) The all too frequent option of opting out of life entirely, or trying to via addictions or suicide attempts.

    B. is a more frequent option than anyone wants to see/accept, and is usually kept deeply hidden because it makes the guilt even more immense and intense.

    As a survivor myself, bless you a million times over for helping.

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    1. Jacquelineand...: Thank you so much. I knew about option c) and option a) is something that many of us struggle with. Your explanation of option b) is very, very helpful. An ugly truth that I am better for knowing.
      I so hope that this post didn't stir up too many things which are best left behind.

      Delete
    2. It's a spiral dance, but if you dance carefully (and forgive oneself the occasional misstep) it is a spiral which takes one upward. Now I have choices, that in itself is healing, and I chose to continue reading; probably because of this silly wee rhyme:
      Luisa Keiger,
      Kept a tiger,
      Out on her back lawn...

      Luisa Keiger,
      Kept a tiger,
      But now Luisa's gone.

      Keeping tigers on one's back lawn is always a risky business; much better to keep them in the front garden, in plain sight. *hugs*

      Delete
    3. Jacquelineand...: Love that rhyme - It reminds me of
      Algy met the bear,
      the bear met Algy,
      The bear was bulgy,
      and the bulge was Algy.
      And I am very glad your spiral is mostly taking you upwards.

      Delete
  45. The book looks fascinating, Sue. I love your recommendations.
    She feels as if those were the happiest days of her life because,
    well, that's all she knows.
    Sad...but true. xxxxxxxxxxx

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    1. My Inner Chick: I would hope (I did hope) that marriage and a child of her own would make for new happiest times. I was wrong.

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  46. I've read your book review and the comments and have been thinking about it for days. I can't offer any suggestions or insights; just sympathy for people like this lady and thankfulness for people like yourself who are willing to try to understand so that they may help others.

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    1. jenny_o: I am still thinking about it. And aching for her, and for the people who go through similar ugliness. And hoping (against hope) that they find a sanctuary. Jacqueline's comment struck a chord. I learnt from the book which is always a good thing - and I hated that it was there to be learnt.

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  47. I just can't read stuff that is too nasty like that - gives me nightmares. I hope there is a special place in hell for people like that guy.

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    1. Riot Kitty: I would like their hell to be in the here and now, as it is for the people they prey on.

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  48. It sounds a hard book to read. It seems to me that paedophilia is rife world wide and the more it comes to light just how bad it has been and continues to be I want to do unspeakable things to the men (for it is usually men) who do these despicable and depraved things to children. The saddest thing is, as you say, that she considers her time with him the happiest days of her life. He stole her childhood and may have left her with irrational psychological reasoning even though she is attempting to make certain her own daughter is kept safe from the same sort of abuse. I despise the flawed human race sometimes.

    I am supposing he made himself indispensable in her emotions by making her dependent on his attentions during all her formative years. Yes, I can see how she might feel this way. It horrifies me that someone like that could have such power over an innocent child-adolescent-young woman. :(

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    1. Marie: It was a very hard book to read. Very, very hard. And I hate that her early years have smeared their ugly mark over the rest of her life - and no doubt over the rest of the lives of everyone he interfered with. And yes, our race is very easy to despise.

      Delete
  49. Chilling. Jacqueline's Luisa rhyme is a beauty. I often wonder how much heartache is hidden away in the attics of people's minds.

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    1. Kim: I am quite sure that a lot of people have heartache hidden behind superficially serene personas. Which is sad and bad.

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  50. Hello there, back again to thank you for giving me advice on the word verification. I also enjoyed your story about your childhood toy. Thanks for sharing that.

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  51. There's a quotation to the effect that the most common is the most personal, and child molestation is awfully common, especially among clergy, especially among Catholic clergy because a celibate priesthood tends to attract people who have problems in the area of sexuality.

    You didn't say what the guy the book did for a living, and maybe it doesn't matter.

    Here, you can go online and see where all the pedophiles live. I did that once, and found that there were so many that I was too upset to go back. I would favor capital punishment to protect children, but I read that it discourages kids from reporting because they don't want to see anyone killed, especially if that person is a relative. It's a hell of deal, and I wish I could stop those who do it.

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    1. Snowbrush: What he did for a living wasn't spelled out. Sadly some at least of his income came from his foster children (shudder). Child molestation is indeed common, with pockets where it is even more frequent. Which hurts my heart.

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  52. I shudder. And couldn't even begin I'm afraid.

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    1. Vicki: I still shudder thinking about it.

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