One Small Word: Surviving Childhood Abuse
by Gloria Eveleigh
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"She still sees herself as unworthy of other people’s love . . ."

There is a singular word, which, despite consisting of only two letters, takes a young girl fourteen years to be able to stand firm and say. That word is “no.” Eveleigh’s autobiographical story is that of childhood in a dysfunctional family, documenting the devastating trauma of years of both physical and sexual abuse by a father prone to violence, and where the writer’s mother, literally unable to stand up to him, is seen as essentially enabling such abuse. Through this heartfelt memoir, we learn how intimacy and relations with boyfriends and her husband later in life were drastically affected by the trauma that is childhood sexual violence. And yet, Eveleigh’s book is a testament to healing. As such, this book would well serve anybody who has or is experiencing an abusive family situation as well as professionals who work with victims of sexual or physical abuse.

Over time, the author comes to terms with the violence, abuse, and neglect she grew up experiencing. Quite understandably, it takes a long time to realize that not one of those terrible episodes was her fault and that she has innate worth. Eveleigh writes with unfettered emotion, realistic dialogue, and familial detail, portraying the raw emotions of guilt, confusion, anger, fear, resentment, self-disgust, and, finally, self-acceptance. “The counseling has made a real difference,” she writes. “Just knowing that none of the abuse I experienced was my fault has taken away so much guilt. It has helped me to like myself more, and to understand why I behave in certain ways.” The author is to be commended for pouring her heart into the writing of a memoir which deftly tackles such sensitive subject matter, treating it with grace, wisdom, and insightful self-reflection.

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