Husted, an accomplished actor, comes to terms with childhood sexual abuse in this courageous yet harrowing debut memoir.
Husted is the youngest of three brothers who grew up in rural Michigan with an absent father who had a string of criminal offenses ranging from minor misdemeanors to check fraud. Their mother was a fragile, somewhat naive woman who, in search of financial security, married George, the stepfather of nightmares. Appearing benevolent at first, he revealed himself to be venomously strict with the brothers. Alarm bells rang when he forced them to strip naked and lie backside up on the bed. He subjected the boys to brutal whippings with a belt while seeming to gain gratification from viewing their prone bodies. George manipulated the boys by paying them to give him massages, and the author reveals how, at 8 years old, he was encouraged to explore his stepfather’s body, which ultimately led to him sexually gratifying the older man. This abuse became a regular occurrence, and the author explains how a young boy can easily confuse a sexual predator’s coercions with an act of love. The encounters, described in detail, are heartbreakingly difficult to read. The boy becomes a self-fashioned detective, trying to ascertain whether the relationship he is experiencing is discernible in other family units. Cracks begin to show when his older brother Gary stands up to George, threatening him with an ax and accusing him of molestation. Bewilderingly, the boys’ mother chooses to ignore the accusations and continues her relationship with George. The memoir is a survival narrative, about growing up and coming to understand not only the abuser but those who enable the abuse. The author also openly describes coming to terms with his own sexuality as he realizes that he is attracted to men. The almost unbearable psychological trauma depicted here is offset by a powerful positivity as the author turns valiantly to face his past head on, writing with an admirable eloquence and honesty.
An anatomy of survival, which could prove vital to those marked by sexual abuse.