Stamps recounts decades of sexual and psychological abuse in this debut memoir.
According to the author, her father began sexually abusing her when she was about 6 years old, and the incidents continued for many years. She says that these early memories were repressed until she was well into middle age and had undergone extensive psychotherapy: “I had shut it out of my consciousness.” Stamps writes that her father’s psychological manipulations made it impossible for her leave home until 2004, when she was 43. She says that her father also violated her older sister, even confessing as much to the author one night: “my dad came in, knelt down by my bed and told me that my sister was going to tell my mother that he had been abusing her. He assured me that ‘our time’ was different.” Their mother, she says, did nothing to stop him. Stamps found an outlet for her internal rage by pursuing an interest in martial arts and achieving certification as a black belt in taekwondo, eventually opening her own studio. Oddly, her father encouraged this pursuit: “I learned how to protect myself, but he had instilled such fear that he knew that I would never raise a hand to him.” There is so much pain and anger in the pages of this memoir that it’s sometimes difficult to read. There is considerable repetition, which reflects Stamps’ persistent attempts to expel her demons, which she still struggles with. But her narrative is also an earnest call to abuse victims to seek help and not remain trapped behind veils of secrecy. Stamps’ vivid descriptions of her father’s behavior and her mother’s silent complicity are often stunning. Readers will cringe as she writes of being caught between feelings of love and hate, and of being paralyzed by fear: “Secrets keep us as victims, they limit our light, they make us live in fear and deceit.”
A heartbreaking, chilling, and courageous chronicle of one woman’s struggle to reclaim her life.