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In My Father's Arms: A Son's Story of Sexual Abuse (Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiog) Paperback – April 17, 2012


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Product Details

  • Series: Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiog
  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1, Expanded edition (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299165140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299165147
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,190,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From the time he was an infant until he turned 10, Tallahassee, Fla., native DeMilly was repeatedly molested by his father, he discloses in this frank account. The elder DeMilly also molested neighborhood children and exposed himself to his daughter, according to the author. After a period of blocking out the experiences (during which he came to recognize his incipient homosexuality), a dream in college reawakened DeMilly's memories of abuse. However, a well-known psychologist dismissed them and counseled him to pursue heterosexual relationships. Years later, when the father of a neighborhood victim threatened to press charges unless DeMilly's father submitted to psychiatric treatment, DeMilly's family came to believe his account. With the guidance of a psychiatrist, the entire family, including the father, chose surgical castration as the father's treatment, only learning later how unusual their choice was. DeMilly's spare prose lyrically evinces the horror of the incidents; he effectively captures the dissociation from himself that often occurs in abuse victims. However, he sacrifices chronological order for artistic effect, creating a somewhat repetitive and confusing narrative. In the least effective passages, he attempts to re-create his father's experience, capturing his own fervent desire to understand rather than illuminating the source of his father's actions. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

One man's horrific memoir of sexual abuse at the hands of his all-American father. The book opens in Tallahassee, Fla., just after the Cuban missile crisis. Nine-year-old Walter de Milly is awakened by his father, who leads him to their backyard bomb shelter, bolts the heavy lead door, and abuses him. Shortly thereafter, the child watches his father drive to his job at the bank, ``his white shirt crisp against his Presbyterian back.'' More than 30 years later, de Milly, who has actually gone into business with his dad, picks up the phone and hears an angry neighbor speak an ugly truth: ``Your father molested my son.'' At the neighbor's insistence, the family finally confronts their father's pedophilia and takes drastic action: Walter de Milly senior, the smiling, silver-haired pillar of the community undergoes surgical castration. This book recounts the author's attempts to grapple not only with the lingering effects of the abuse he suffered from infancy through adolescence, but also with his own homosexuality and the complex blend of hatred, pity, contempt, and love he feels for his aging and increasingly infirm father. As his loving, impossibly naive mother looks on, seeing nothing, the father emerges here as a monster out of Norman Rockwell, a man who molests his son while reading aloud from the Bible, and leaves him helpful notes that read ``Smile, and the world smiles with you!'' Throughout the book, de Milly periodically assumes the point of view of his younger self, and re-creates the full force of a child's hapless bewilderment during abuse. When the author finally dares to confront his father, the elder de Milly treats years of incest as a minor character flaw and says, simply, ``I hoped you'd forgotten about it.'' In an age where such tales have become so commonplace that they have lost some of their ability to shock, the raw power of de Milly's writing ensures that readers will long remember his disturbing story. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The book, undoubtedly a reflection of the man, is painfully sincere.
"bwl200"
I will recommend it highly in all of my workshops on abuse and to my clients that are ready to face their pain.
Merle Yost
Taking a powerfully disturbing story and writing about it in a simple, almost poetic, manner is truly profound.
Jacob Victory

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I am "Caroline". I have just finished reading my brother's book. His sensitivity and pain grab your soul. At times I felt I was floating above, reading about someone else, not my brother, not my family. Walt's journey, as told in the book, has been a long and hard one. I am so proud of his courage, He is a gentle, sincere, witty, and intelligent man. Despite his abuse, all the little Walts (some of whom I knew) and Walt have never faltered in character. That is the miracle in all this. No one who reads this book will be untouched. I hope that those readers who have been abused will find this book part of their healing. For those who have not, I hope it will give a clearer understanding of what it feel like to be abused and the lasting effects of it. Knowledge is a powerful tool in any fight. It is my hope that this knowledge will bring help to those who need it, whether it is in the form of laws, therapy, or simple a helping freind.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Merle Yost on May 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a psychotherapist that specializes in treating men with a history of sexual abuse and having been an incest victim my self, I have read a great deal of the literature and books on the subject. This is one of the best at really conveying the pain and impact upon a developing mind and body. A fast but powerful read that anyone who really wants to understand or to see that he was not the only one. I will recommend it highly in all of my workshops on abuse and to my clients that are ready to face their pain. I am grateful that Walter shared his pain and most of all his healing. It will help many.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By James Schiavone on January 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While novels reflect the human condition and provide the reader with vicarious experiences, biography brings life itself to the printed page. Autobiography and memoirs are especially intriguing, despite the fact that the author only reveals those aspects of his life that he chooses to share with others. Autobiography and memoirs most often provide a catharsis for the author. The writer relives his experiences by sharing them with his readers. The memoirist enhances the understanding of human psychology through sharing experiences with others, while he views himself simultaneously. deMilly's work, which would not have been published a few decades ago, deals candidly with the subjects of incest and pedophilia. It is no wonder that the author experiences multiple personality syndrome at the hands of a father whose pedophilia extends to his own son. In graphic detail, deMilly spells out the ordeal of a child who knows intrinsically that something terribly wrong is happening - yet he cannot tell it to anyone. With the onset of adolescence, deMilly's problems are compounded by his own emerging sexual preference - which he cannot fathom. Could it be that his homosexuality is attributable to the sexual abuse from his parent? Psychotherapy does not provide satisfactory answers or solutions. deMilly has written a brave memoir, a testament to the strength of the human spirit to survive successfully in society. His work is a positive addition to the expanding discipline of gay and lesbian studies.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jacob Victory on May 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Taking a powerfully disturbing story and writing about it in a simple, almost poetic, manner is truly profound. Walter De Milly's personal story about child abuse, his relationship with his father, and his own way of dealing with it and understanding it, is a great accomplishment in the art of storytelling. The book deals with the loss of innocence, disturbing childhood memories, and the interaction between Walter and his father, both as a child and adult. One sentence in the book lends dramatic insight into the feelings of the author throughout his ordeal and the aftermath: "The eyes scream what the lips dare not whisper." One can only imagine how a boy's silence could be ignored when all one had to do was look into his eyes. It is a story well told and strongly felt by any reader.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Silva on November 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"The eyes scream what the lips dare not whisper" -- these are images of father-son sexual abuse that no one should have to live with in their head and Walter de Milly and other victims should not have to live with alone.

Walter de Milly's short memoir remains one of the precious few opportunities to truly experience the utterly horrifying truths of father-son incest in all its sickening complexity and to understand the rank evil lies and trickery of an unstoppable and selfish serial male target pedophile. Deeply disturbing in its beautiful poetic prose; tragically ultimately lacking in the crucial summary naming of this "father" as exactly the unspeakably sick monster that he was, a pedophile who belonged in prison or a mental institution. In My Father's Arms remains a study in the triumph of evil -- nevermind a pedophile father's "mental illness" -- enabled in a deeply disturbed "loyal, loving and sentimental" (and tragically naive) family. You will never forget Walter's Southern story of a dissociative and multiple personality disorder producing "good" family, and he and other shattered victims of the X-Files insidiousness of father-son incest and male target pedophiles will never be out of your prayers after. The classic People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck and the astute Intimate Worlds by Maggie Scarf are both wise companion reading. Highly recommended.
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