It took me twenty years to write this memoir, but it wasn't until 2007, when I interviewed Jeannette Walls (
) and she told me I was writing too objectively (like the reporter I am)--and that my writing didn't go deeply enough into the emotions I was feeling--that I really got to the heart of this story.
The reason it took me twenty years to write is because for much of that time, I was a single parent and I was rearing my four children. I lost the computer files my early manuscript was saved on at least three times--forcing me to stop writing just so I could retype the manuscript from the paper copies I had saved. (A word to the wise: NEVER rely solely on electronic files. Always have a back up!)
After I completed Sister of Silence, I still waited to publish it, because I wanted to ensure my children were well on their way to adulthood when that happened. And I wanted their blessing, any input about changing their names, and so on. Happily, they gave me all of that and more in 2006, when we convened a family meeting about "The Book."
I didn't write this memoir as a sordid "tell-all." I wrote it instead to help people understand the dynamics involved in inappropriate and psychologically damaging adult-child sexual relationships. I also wanted to show how alcoholism and absent parents lead to "at-risk" children and domestic violence. Finally, I hoped other people will see how powerful these forces are--because I don't think society understands them even one-tenth of what it should, when it comes to the dynamics involved.
But more than that, I wrote Sister of Silence to help parents understand they are doing their children no favors when they themselves are too squeamish to discuss sex. If anything, children today are as susceptible to the charms of a child molester as they ever were--because parents refuse to accept that these dangerous adults look and act just like we do. In fact, if anything, what is often said after someone is charged with harming a child sexually, is that "he was the nicest guy. I'd never have known he'd do anything like that." (Ironically, they say the same thing about men who beat their wives and children.)
Most important, I hope I've taught you that not only can you escape abuse and survive terrible violence, but you can thrive after the fact, too!