With respect to non-fiction books, it’s difficult for me to conclude one to be a waste to read. There are a select few that are a must read, some which can be helpful…and then…the others. Unfortunately, From Victim To Survivor falls into the latter category. It’s written by a fellow survivor of child sexual abuse whose memories came flooding back to her in her 50s. While she doesn’t go in-depth about her experience, she wrote her book hoping to motivate others to let go of the victim mentality and live life as a survivor. Simple and straightforward, it was written to help readers understand the impact of sexual abuse and how it prevents us from becoming complete adults. The author, Gillian Jackson, asserts that it’s not a “misery memoir” and it was written to share her experience in an effort to help others on the path to healing.
Before her memories of abuse occurred, Gillian seemed critical of people who suffered from depression. She believed “they should pull it together” and seemed to be proud of being a coper and creating an image to which everyone aspired: the good wife, mom, homemaker and community contributor. But deep down she felt as if she was pretending…striving to be what she expected others wanted her to be.
Before her recollections of abuse ever surfaced, she still didn’t trust anyone to care for her children. She didn’t call it overprotective but she felt as if no one could take care of them as well as she could. Survivors of child sexual abuse have said those very words over the course of their kids’ lives.
She admitted that she was living fine but “cracked” after 50 years due to a number of incidents which occurred at the time. She heard of abuse in the daycare center she managed and seemed fine. Then she discovered a 2 year old showed signs of sexual abuse and it set off the first trigger. She began to suffer physical ailments and was forced to sell the nursery. The loss was a major blow to her identity and her mental health started to suffer. She cried uncontrollably for more than a year without the ability to explain why. Her family saw the change in her although she attempted to hide it. Her husband suggested she visit her doc and when she did, she mustered the courage to tell him she had been sexually abused by an ‘uncle’ at age 4.
Gillian has a graceful writing style and you feel like you’re talking to a sympathetic friend. But not a close friend. It’s apparent Gillian cares and wants each reader to make the journey from victim to survivor but there’s still an emotional disconnect. You feel like you’re talking to an acquaintance who wants to help but doesn’t want to divulge any details of her trauma or life in general. But, she does offer guidance into the various stages of healing and what she found to be successful and unsuccessful. It’s for this reason that I cannot say the book was terrible or a waste to read. It may be perfect for someone whose journey has just started. But once you start along the path to healing, you’re going to crave stories and lessons of substance.
#metoo, child sex abuse, book reviews, memoir, nonfiction, rainn, me too, rape, sexual assault, incest