Angst Girl

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Privacy

on April 5, 2013

When writing your life story, how much privacy do you owe to the other people who show up in your story? I included in my book a retelling of an incident of sexual abuse that occurred in my childhood. I did not name the abuser or tell what relation that person may or may not be to me. But anyone who knows me very well can probably tell who the abuser was. I thought long and hard about how much to write about the incident, but ultimately I decided it was not my job to protect him and writing about the abuse was an integral part of my story.

When I wrote about the abuse I was careful to relay the facts as I recall them and my own feelings. I did not try to explain his actions or assign feelings to him. That is HIS story, not mine. I was not going to vilify him but I wasn’t going to sugar-coat it either. I had no reason to name him so I didn’t. But it was important to me to include the abuse in my book because it is one element that created the person I am today. I have struggled with the aftermath of the abuse for my entire life and to leave that out of a memoir would mean leaving out a large chunk of the story.

I found out from a relative that he read an excerpt of my book online. That’s all he said. I quickly went to Amazon.com to see what exactly is included in the excerpt they chose for the site. There is a reference to the abuse on the website. My guess is he’s NOT going to buy the book. But I wonder what he thinks of it all? Does he see himself as a victim now that his secret is kind of out in the open? Has he even admitted to himself that I was writing about him?

I’ve never been able to confront my abuser. We have a somewhat hesitant relationship that is sustained solely by birthday and Christmas cards and I have no desire to be any closer to him than that. I am afraid to talk to him about this and, I suspect, for us it’s better left unsaid. But I could not write a memoir without writing about the abuse. How he chooses to react to it is his concern, not mine.

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2 responses to “Privacy

  1. I don’t have an answer for you. There is someone who I will never identify, except when I did in counseling. This person, though what they did was wrong and greatly impacted my life, was also a child at the time of the incident and I’m pretty sure was being abused also. This person has grown into a phenomenal adult, and I don’t feel the need in my personal situation to tell anyone. I have sometimes thought about asking this person if they remember the incident, but really, I’d rather leave it where it’s at. And for the rest of them, I don’t care who knows.

  2. This is something I wonder about, too. I’m new to blogging, and I’ve been leaving out full names, to avoid possible backlash.
    I’m glad you got around to publishing something on the topic. I will definitely check out your book 🙂

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