A moving and immensely informative study on how the long road to abuse recovery can directly affect motherhood.

WOMEN WHO WERE SEXUALLY ABUSED AS CHILDREN

MOTHERING, RESILIENCE, AND PROTECTING THE NEXT GENERATION

A psychotherapist offers intensive reflections from and about female survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Through interviews, profiles, qualitative studies, and her own professional experiences, debut author Gil channels her veteran career in abuse recovery into this poignant and illuminating volume on survivorship. She focuses primarily on women who have become mothers despite the harrowing ordeals clouding their youths and how they raise their own children amid lingering emotional challenges. The book’s opening chapters provide plainspoken declarations of what childhood sexual abuse encompasses, the long-term deleterious mental health ramifications, and how self-medication provides only temporary relief. Other sections examine the specific qualities found in nurturing and protective mothers and how a professional therapeutic relationship can cultivate those attributes, foster recovery, and counsel parents in their critical roles at home. Her text also mines the dynamics of revictimization and the intergenerational transmission of abuse possible throughout a survivor’s life. The themes Gil explores are intensified and greatly personalized with quotes, stories, and passages from scores of interviews she’s conducted with women who are rearing kids in contemporary society as well as those who have already parented adult offspring. This material shows how time and healing have changed their views over the course of their motherhoods. “By sharing common experiences, women can begin to transform shame into pride, and silence into strength,” the author writes. Her probing yet respectful scrutiny exposes the atrocities of childhood sexual abuse while beautifully revealing the brave struggles of mothers who have persevered, given birth, and lovingly supported their kids. Gil’s affecting narrative celebrates the emotional and physical strength of female survivors, and she admits to being in a constant state of awe at her subjects’ tenacity and their ability to “maintain a sense of humor and to be compassionate and caring toward others while they courageously grapple with the difficult and painful issues that arise in the therapeutic process.” The book’s analytical approach and academic tone and format make it an ideal resource for childhood abuse clinicians and educators as well as for survivors who are open to discovering aspects of other women’s experiences and coping mechanisms. For lay readers, Gil closes each chapter with useful summary sections clarifying and underscoring key points and perspectives.

A moving and immensely informative study on how the long road to abuse recovery can directly affect motherhood.   

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5381-0177-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST

Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more