Book Review: I HADN’T MEANT TO TELL YOU THIS

I HADN’T MEANT TO TELL YOU THIS
By
Jacqueline Woodson

          I HADN’T MEANT TO TELL YOU THIS, is one of the best written novel style books on this subject I have ever read. A well-written book, the characters are realistic and multi-layered. The story line is captivating. The author compellingly relates the thoughts and spirit of her young characters with page turning expertise. This book is a must read.

Some secrets must be told; just as some promises must be broken; time is of the essence.  Petina Powers

          “Lena’s eyes seemed to hold on to that sadness as though any minute she’d start crying and no one in the world, not even God could stop the tears. She didn’t cry, though. Behind the sadness in her eyes something-like a thin layer of steel. And no matter how hard you looked, you couldn’t see past it. And no matter what you did, you couldn’t melt the steel into tears.

 I would have sworn on a million Bibles.

I would have sworn on Christ’s robe.

But that was a long ago time. This morning, when I woke up from that dream, I knew I would tell. It seemed like Lena was saying, ‘It’s okay now, Marie. Go ahead and tell it. And maybe someday other girls like you and me can fly through this stupid world without being afraid.’

 So I should start at the beginning.

 And tell the world.”

And so begins the story of a journey into friendship that was never supposed to be. A friendship built by two girls against all odds. Set in the 1990’s, with racial and economic differences creating a chasm of separation the two races do not socialize, even at school. Marie is a neat as a pin upper class black girl in a town of predominantly successful black families. The new girl at school is Lena an ill-kempt often dirty white girl from the wrong side of the tracks. However, from Lena’s first day at school, the two girls are drawn to each other. Both girls live in single parent homes, raised by their fathers. Marie’s Mother walked out on the family and Lena’s has died. The similarities end there. Yet, a bond develops until secrets are revealed and lives are forever changed.

As she travels the world, Marie’s mother keeps aloofly in touch through poetically written postcards. One day Marie asks of Lena, “Where would you go?” In response Lena says, “I go places now…When my daddy’s touching me, I take off, boom! and I’m gone. Thailand, Colorado, the Blue Ridge Mountains. I think of all the places I’ve heard of with beautiful names and try to imagine what they look like in real life…until it’s over.” Lena’s survival method is one often revealed by now adult survivors of child sexual abuse

One of the most important statements in the book comes from Lena when she says of her father to Marie, “Nobody believes it when you tell them, she whispered, “Everybody says it’s impossible.” This statement from young Lena speaks to the unwillingness of many in our society to accept that sexual abuse occurs within the family and from those friends and peers we know, respect and love.

Whether you are a child keeping a friend’s secret or an adult keeping the secret of your best friend who is the abuser or protecting the abuser, you must tell. It is the legal responsibility of every United States citizens to report and it is the only right thing to do for the child. Please do not think you will make it worse for the child when you tell. It is only going to get worse for the child anyway. Because, even though some sexual predators may want to, they do not stop on their own. Do the right thing, report, before it is too late. Please see our page Report Abuse: Who to Contact in your State.

Book Review – Invisible Girls: The Truth About Sexual Abuse by Dr. Patti Feuereisen with Caroline Pincus

Invisible Girls:  The Truth About Sexual Abuse

by

Dr. Patti Feuereisen with Caroline Pincus

Filled with personal stories,  Invisible Girls is a window into the world of sexual abuse.  To those in our society who are uninformed this book is a fount of information and myth busting.  For survivors of sexual abuse this book is a candle of encouragement, solidarity, hope and healing.  Divided in four parts then into chapters Invisible Girls makes it easy to locate specific topics.  The Epilogue provides an update on those who shared their stories and at the very back is a variety of current resources.   This is an important book to study and share with others. JDP

 From her website:  Dr. Patti Feuereisen is a psychologist in private practice in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. and Manhattan.  During her 25 years of work counseling sexual abuse survivors, Dr. Patti found that girls who start to talk about their sexual abuse and bring it out into the open will get better, heal and thrive.

PART ONE – What is in Pandora’s box?  Sexual abuse and how it affects us.

Disclosure is the only way we will take this topic from taboo discussion to triumph in prevention and prosecution.  The author aptly explains the importance on speaking out about one’s sexual abuse,

“…Others might have feared letting such troubles out of the box, but Pandora knew that when you keep a box closed, you also close off hope.  She knew that hope lies in opening the box, in revealing the truth, in releasing the trauma.  She was not afraid.  She knew that girls are healed every time women’s sexual trauma is let out of its box and released into the world.  I invite all of you to join me in opening Pandora’s box.”

PART TWO – Girls’ Genius-How Girls Get through the Actual Abuse Experience.

After being sexually abused the child, teenager has to go to school, to a play date, or to a family event; they have to act normal, they have no choice.  Therefore, they have to do whatever they can to survive the actual abuse.  Some retreat or create alternate worlds where they have control.

 “While my father was molesting me, I would look at the wallpaper with all the little fairies.  I would pretend they were my friends, and that they were sprinkling fairy dust on me.  I made up names for all the fairies, and I was the queen fairy, and I could protect every little girl in my world.”

 PART THREE – Opening Pandora’s Box:  Girls Tell Their Stories.

As you read the following excerpt from the book, realize these words were the reality of a very young child.  This situation is not unusual; this is the norm.

 “When you live in the same house with a predator, your sixth sense is alive and kicking at all times.  You know he is going to do something that night, even before he considers what is at stake.  The fight is only on the surface, a delicate exchange of looks, of using the other bodies around to try and plan your escape.  It’s futile and you know it.  In the Disney story, Bambi had a chance, the chance of running as fast as he could in the open field.  That doesn’t mean he will make it, but he can run.  I didn’t know I could, because no one had shown me how to.  It would take me a while to learn-after all the harm was done.” 

PART FOUR – The Road Back.

Advice, information and personal stories combine to encourage one’s own healing process, help in creating a support system to pursue a healthy life and is equally important to those wishing to help others.  In closing the author says,  “The one good reason I can think of to report your abuse and press charges is when your abuser is likely to be a danger to other girls.”  I agree, and more importantly, report in order to stop the abuse against yourself, YOU are important.  To the young child I would say, you might have to tell a dozen times before you are removed from the situation, I know it is dangerous for you to tell, but so is the abuse.  Keep trying to find people to tell who will believe you, eventually there will be enough evidence and you will be set free.  Do not give up hope! JDP

Link to publisher

http://sealpress.com/books.php?author=193

Link to Author’s website

http://www.girlthrive.com/index.html

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