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Stories of Triumph Over Childhood Abuse

by Ginger Rhodes & Richard Rhodes

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-688-14096-3
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

 An oral history of child abuse that reveals in numbing detail how its survivors managed to live through the experience and make decent adult lives for themselves. When Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prizewinning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb (1987), published A Hole in the World (1990), his memoir of surviving abuse at the hands of his stepmother, hundreds of fellow survivors wrote to tell him their stories. He and his wife, Ginger, an independent producer/writer, conducted lengthy interviews with 20 of the most articulate and insightful respondents, as well as with two psychotherapists at the Menninger Clinic whom the Rhodeses consulted for a professional perspective on child abuse. Real names are used throughout, and childhood photographs are included. Among the formerly abused are a poet, a television director, an editor, an occupational therapist, a university professor, an antiques dealer, and a businesswoman. Although all the interviews were either one-on-one or two-on-one, the responses have been organized into coherent chapters that read as though all the participants were engaged in a lively conversation. The Rhodeses' questions and comments and the interviewees' responses reveal the nature of the abuse each suffered, how as a child each tried to make sense of what was happening, their relations with siblings, the response of other family members and close relatives, and the interventions or lack of same by outside adults. Many of the survivors whose voices are heard here tried various forms of therapy, and some were still in therapy at the time of the interviews; nevertheless, the level of psychobabble is happily low. These are intelligent, resilient men and women whose strategies for surviving physical violence and neglect, sexual molestation, and verbal abuse are worthy of study. Not always an easy read, but a rewarding one.