4 out of 4 stars
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Jean was from a large family of ten. She was the first child, and as with most female firstborns, she had her future laid out before her. But her life didn't go as planned. Jean suffered intense sexual abuse at home and in high school from the age of three up until seventeen. Her abusers included an uncle, some clergymen, and other high-profile adults. To survive the trauma brought on by years of abuse, Jean repressed the memories and buried them deep within her subconscious. Things stayed that way until she turned twenty-seven, and the memories started to peek out from behind their mental graves. This is a deeply disturbing memoir about how Jean survived the terrors of child sexual abuse and the terrifying memories which began to resurface in her adult life.
Walking With Aletheia by Jean Hargadon Wehner is a story of uncovered and repressed abuse, forgotten due to the self-protective mechanism of dissociation. I was disgusted by the abuse she had to endure at the tender age of three. Even worse, this abuse was dished out by a family member—her uncle, Tom—and happened under her parents’ noses. It makes me wonder how warped her mind already was by the time she got to high school and had to endure abuse again but this time from clergymen and some adults who were supposed to be inspirational figures. I was incredibly pissed off by Fr. Maskell because of the significant role he played in Jean’s abuse, using hypnosis, drugs, and other brainwashing techniques to prime and control. The fact that this isn’t a fictional story makes it even worse. Thankfully, she eventually found a support system in some people she met in her adult life. These people played crucial roles in helping her confront her demons and start her healing journey. You’ll have to read this memoir yourself to find out the details and extent of Jean’s abuse, how deeply it affected and warped her mind and body, and the steps she had to take on her journey to healing and wholeness.
I liked the transition my mind made as I read this book. I started out seeing Jean as a helpless victim, but by the end of the book, she was an undisputed heroine in my mind. Her story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, something I believe will motivate and inspire others who have been in similar circumstances.
I was disheartened by the lax and nonchalant manner in which the Catholic Church approached the issue of sexual abuse by its priests. With cases as serious as this one, it immediately became apparent that there was a systematic method the church used to discredit such victims while hiding the culprits, essentially aiding and abetting sex offenders. This irked me to no end, and I hope that things change for the better in this regard.
The editing of this book was professional and well done. The author’s story was equally heartbreaking and inspirational. I also never felt lost at any point as her writing was clear and comprehensible even though her narration didn’t unfold chronologically. There was nothing to hate about this memoir. I rate it 4 out of 4 stars and recommend it to all victims of sexual abuse and those who love them.
Walking with Aletheia
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