By Somali K Chakrabarti
What does a child do when those who are meant to protect her turn into the perpetrators of crime against her?
Abuse in the formative years might be the worst kind of agony that a person could be subjected to. When perpetrated by family members it carries with it the burden of guilt and shame, which affects not only the childhood but spills over the entire lifespan of the person. Every time I read about child abuse, it disgusts me to think about the people who indulge in the heinous crime. More disturbing is the thought of children who are made to go through it.
The Only Way Out Is Through
‘The Only Way Out Is Through,’ written by Shirley J Davis, is a first-hand narrative of the trauma faced by the author who was subjected to abuse in her childhood. While she avoids mention of the explicit details, Shirley mostly uses the form of free flowing poetry to convey the deep scars that were inflicted on her as a child, and the psychological setback she suffered due to the inhuman ordeal.
In her first poem ‘A Warm and Sandy Beach’, Shirley talks about her childhood dreams – an image that she had created in her mind – of a beach, a safe place with warm breeze, soft piano music playing in the background and happy days. Subsequently she tells about her craving for a new life, about her compassionate therapist Paula, who helped her to get over her haunting memories of her past.
The breach of trust that Shirley faced from people who were meant to protect her, her fear and apprehension and how as a child she psychologically coped with it, deeply moves the reader.
Here are some excerpts from the book:
Free and full of laughter
Of joy and awe at birth
Innocent of the ways of men
Unaware of her own worth
Lust is a horrible thing
When used against a child
Who has no means of defense
Whose ways are meek and mild
So she was used in a crime
Perpetrated against her and at last
She became numb to everything
A prisoner of her past
It is a short but an intense and an emotionally consuming book. Though I felt that a section of the book ‘The Words of Wisdom From a Professional Insomniac‘ could have been better edited, but overall I must say that through her own transformation, the author infuses hope in the readers about the possibility and ability to overcome all evils.
Now in her fifties, Shirley is studying to be an Anthropologist. I admire Shirley for her courage to come out of the shadows of her past and for writing about child abuse – a topic which is often shoved under the rug.
You can find the book here on The Only Way Out Is Through
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