A woman's excrutiatingly painful and explicit account of 14 years of incestuous abuse. With great courage and startling compassion, Silverman tells the story of how her father, once chief counsel to the secretary of the Interior and later an international banker, made her his sexual companion. Beginning when she was four years old, the incest escalated from fondling in the bathtub to oral and finally full-fledged and frequent vaginal intercourse. With her mother's unspoken acquiesence (``I was a present to her husband'') Silverman became a willing instrument in calming her beloved father's frequent rages. Extraordinarily frank (``It feels good, yes. I discover its pleasure before its shame''), Silverman is able to recreate the emotional trail that leads from terror to pleasure, from confusion and fear to disassociation. Two new personalities emerge to take the brunt of her father's sexual forays. One is Dina, passive and wanting only to please; the other is Celeste, angry, challenging, and hungry. But even with these guardian personae, the little girl Sue remains acutely vulnerable. As a second-grader, she felt so unprotected that she dropped out of school for a year; a few years later, during an especially traumatic period, she spent most of three months sleeping. As Silverman enters adolescence, she struggles to break away, but not until she leaves for college does her father abruptly stop his sexual marauding. Silverman spends the next 30 years trying to understand and control both her sexual aggressiveness and her self-starvation—an attempt, in essence, to make her abused body disappear. With therapy and a loving husband, she succeeds and, almost unbelievably, comes to terms with her parents as well. Harrowing in its depiction of savage violation and profoundly moving in its portrait of a child's fear, confusion, and desperate search for a safe place.
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