The testimony of 30 or so women who suffered sexual abuse as children--some the product of a (Santa Cruz, CA) women's...


I NEVER TOLD ANYONE: Writings by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

The testimony of 30 or so women who suffered sexual abuse as children--some the product of a (Santa Cruz, CA) women's writing workshop led by editor Bass, some solicited nationally, some previously published (or excerpted from longer works). The collection is intended, we're told in the course of three introductory sections (by activist/writer Florence Rush and the two editors), ""to help give the sexually abused child a voice"" and to free her of guilt and shame. The actual selections, however, will strike some readers as diminished by their classification into abuse by fathers, other relatives, friends and acquaintances, and strangers. A number, moreover, are very short; they are necessarily repetitive; and some strain to be literary. The strongest and most affecting are those that voice the anguish of ""trying to save myself from a man I loved"": Maya Angelou's much-invoked account of her rape, at age eight, by her mother's huggable boyfriend (from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings); Jean Monroe's conflicted recollections of her father's advances (""But it's not hurting me, and if I object, it will hurt him. He would see then that I know it is wrong""). Jennifer Meyer, almost alone, drew strength from facing down her attackers. For the rest, it's a horrible litany: ""Go on, kiss it""; ""Suck it, up and down, like candy""; ""The purple thing would not fit""; ""In a shaky voice, he told me he would let me go if I promised never to tell anybody."" And: ""Telling on him is telling on me"" (Kate Millett, from Flying). For the women, telling has been cathartic, and others in their situation may experience a similar release. Those involved with children, however, will gain a better understanding of the problem from Robert Geiser's Hidden Victims (1979) and specific guidance from Linda Sanford's Silent Children (1980). And, for the Daddy's Girl dilemma, many women will want first to see Suzanne Fields' Like Father, Like Daughter (below).

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 1983

ISBN: 0060965738

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983