"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

08 October 2010

Stolen Innocence and Living For Today

Merryn, Erin. Stolen Innocence. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc., 2004.

Merryn, Erin. Living for Today. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc., 2009.

This was probably the most difficult pair of books for me to read, but I'm glad that I did. I have found more similarities between Erin's story and my own than anyone would likely care to admit. In her memoirs, Erin chronicles both the abuse she endured and also her journey as she sought healing and recovery from the abuse. Erin and I were both abused by a family member. Erin and I both displayed obvious signs of abuse, but no one in our families, even those who also had histories of abuse, took notice. Erin and I both chose to remain silent for many years.

However, Erin and her sister made the brave choice and together told their parents about the abuse. Thus began a long battle through family problems, legal red tape, and a long, painful journey of healing. Erin has since become an advocate for victims of abuse and has been honored in the passing of Erin's Law, legislation in the state of Illinois that mandates education for children on the topic of sexual abuse. I rejoice in Erin's courage to speak out, not just against her abusers, but also on behalf of those who have yet to find their voice.

All that being said, for most of you who read this blog I will have to say this: don't read these books. They are simply too graphic, as one would assume all accounts of sexual abuse are. I don't know that Erin could have told her story in such a powerful way if she had fudged the facts at all or skimmed over her difficulties. As an abuse survivor myself, I found it difficult to read certain passages in her books and had to skim pages and paragraphs, lest I trigger a flashback to my own abusive childhood. Both books were difficult to read, but I believe what she said was good and necessary.

I especially appreciated Erin's emphasis on her faith and on forgiving her abusers. She did not gloss over the difficulty or the pain in doing so, she did not pretend that her story had a "happily ever after" ending, but the process of healing was a definite focus, especially in her second book.

I can only hope that some day I will have the courage of Erin and be able to tell my story. If you are reading this post and you have been or are being sexually abused, molested, or raped, please contact the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network's confidential online hotline - the link is on the right column of this page. You are not alone.

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