Velvet Lies Muted Cries – silence – the most powerful scream
Author Melanie WADHAM
You can purchase the book from http://womantowoman.co.nz
Publisher M Wadham, 2012
I was offered Ms Wadham’s book to review as it’s known I enjoy reviewing crime novels. But this is not a novel – it is truth, and a harsh truth at that. And this is not a crime story – it is a litany of crimes: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, manipulation, control – against a child and growing woman.
[Quoting the rear cover]:
A compelling, true story of courage, survival and voice. A woman’s journey of healing and recovery after witnessing her mother’s murder and surviving heinous abuse, to ultimately reach a victorious freedom.
There is no single antagonist – she was brutalised by many men in her life, of whom she should have expected to trust for care, if not love. Her life is spent seeking a source of nurturing love, making errors as she makes choices, finding self-protection by closing in on herself. The cycle of seeking love, finding abuse, and retreating within, became well established.
[Quoting p 114]:
It had been years since my first sexual abuse, and three years since the last one, but major damage had been done. After each traumatic experience my system of self-preservation seemed to go onto permanent alert – startling easily, reacting irritably to small provocations – and I suffered poor sleep plagued with nightmares. Although I was no longer in danger, or even in an anvironment of stress, the physiological phenomena persisted and I was now maladapted to a life of safety and security.
I could not resume the normal course of my life as a mother, wife and employee; the traumas repeatedly interrupted this, as flashbacks during waking hours and nightmares in my sleep. Small, seemingly insignificant reminders also evoked memories, which returned with all the vividness and emotional force of the original event.
I felt as if I lived in a frozen and wordless capsule of unwanted memories that laced verbal narrative and context but were, rather, encoded in the form of vivid sensations and images, and I was continuously buffeted by terror and rage.”
Her revelations of her experiences, her hardships, her discoveries about love and loving oneself are conveyed almost dispassionately. You, as reader, are free to wonder, to chill, to worry, to weep.
As adjunct to Ms Wadham’s story, is a collection of copies of notes and journal entires she wrote during her life: some, crumpled or stained; some bearing adornments she’d drawn. Many are difficult to read (due to the limitations of reproducing old mementoes) but all are worth the effort.
They were her weapons against loathing, her tools for affirming her worth, her self affirmations, her connection with faith. The selection we are offered covers a range of emotional yearning and release, as she works, alone or with counsellors, to build a stronger self.