screenshot-2017-01-12-22-21-43Facing my fear: I was molested as a child. Would my own kids judge me for it? The Guardian, 9/2016

“I worried about how I should describe my memoir to my children as the publication day came closer. At first, I gave them only the most vague description. I’d grow tense if anyone said much about the book around them, and I took pains to keep my daughter away from my first signing, even though she wanted to attend.

But my thoughts continued to evolve once the book was published. I’d come so far with my own feelings about childhood sexual abuse, and my general parenting style ran toward openness. If I really believed the message that survivors of sexual abuse have no reason to be ashamed, why did I remain so afraid to tell to my children, even in age-appropriate terms?”

screenshot-2017-01-12-22-29-33My husband wouldn’t read my memoir: “It’s just too painful” Salon, 8/2016

“The dissonance between this difficult material and our cozy family life could make me agitated, but I didn’t talk about it much during the late-evening hours on weekends when my husband and I could connect. Our instinct was to relax in each other’s company then, hanging out with friends or curling up on the couch for a show. My manuscript represented to me the complicated internal life I still hoped to share with him but didn’t have the energy to talk about, and his reluctance to read it felt like a lack of interest in the parts of me that didn’t operate as a co-parent. It sometimes also felt like disapproval.”

What the Duggars should have done for all of their Screenshot 2016-01-04 14.11.21kids: Here’s how to respond to sexual abuse by a minor in the home, Salon, 6/2015

“I somehow hadn’t known who the Duggar family was until InTouch broke the news about childhood sexual abuse occurring within their clan. The story caught my eye because, as a case about a minor molesting younger minors, it bore similarities to a dark chapter in my own life. Starting at age 4, I was repeatedly molested by a teenaged relative my parents had taken in. Decades later, the man who abused me was sent to prison for doing the same thing to another girl. Overcome with the sense that this horrible turn of events might have been prevented if I’d have told about my abuse when it occurred, I became fixated on some questions. What would my parents have done if I’d mentioned to them what was happening to me? What couldthey have done? How can abuse be prevented, or at least nipped in the bud?”

Screenshot 2016-01-04 14.46.54Dear Life: What Do I Do About a Sexual Predator, The Manifest-Station, 2/2015

“I can’t stop myself from getting caught up in the hypotheticals here: Your cousin was fathered by the man who molested you as a child, and you suspect your cousin was abused as well. Now your cousin is exhibiting substance abuse problems and is committing sexual assault. Over the course of the last few years, I’ve looked into studies that seek to understand the connections between being sexually abused as a child and sexually abusing other children as an adult. The findings are not easy to break down simply and there are multiple factors involved, but it’s safe to say that there’s an increased likelihood that male childhood victims will become adult predators. It’s all too easy for me to make assumptions upon your assumptions and to leap to, if not conclusions, a state of acute concern: Another person who might need protecting is the child who’s going to be born into this family. Here’s where your friend, the mom-to-be, is really going to be on the front lines. Not to mention your cousin himself.”

snow heartUnder the Snow this Winter, The Manifest-Station, 3/2014

“A couple weeks ago a colleague died from the cancer that ravaged her within eight months of her diagnosis. She’s the fourth friend roughly my age who has died in the last three years. How early this inevitable falling off begins is not something that’s been encompassed by the worldview of my dawn-of-consciousness core self.  In my life, the proximity of death has come as a mid-life shock. Living as I have always in places with four distinct seasons, the markers of winter, spring, summer, and fall have been reliable signposts for me, symbols of continuity amidst change, but there is a different quality to their coming now. They’re also beads on an abacus, ways to count years without these other people in them, ways to count off my own.”

WoodyCrimes and Misdemeanors: Woody Allen and what we get wrong about sexual abuse, Salon, 2/2014

“Allen was accused of molestation during the custody case resulting from his split with Mia Farrow, which was prompted by Farrow’s discovery of Allen’s relationship with her 19-year old daughter Soon-Yi Previn. Due to the celebrity status and personal histories of the people involved, there’s no doubt that the allegations trail behind them an unusually baroque weave of complexities. I’m going to try to put aside for a moment the question of whether Allen actually molested his daughter or whether he should continue to receive accolades and awards if that is true. Instead, I’m going to present some typical responses to the accusations against him, gleaned from the thousands of comments I’ve read, and examine the way they mirror reactions to child sex abuse in general and reveal some common misperceptions.”

Wolf-Self-Portrait-200x200Lisa, Wolf, and the World, The Rumpus, 8/2013

” ‘What does middle-class mean?’ a friend asked me this summer, knowing that this is something I consciously aspire to, that it’s the boulder I have my shoulder to, calves straining as I push up the hill. Bent like this, I sneak glances when I pause for a breath—in one direction I glimpse the wide, green world; in the other I see a mountain of garbage with families scrambling over it trying to make a living from others’ waste. . . .”


ChicagoThe Last City I Loved: Chicago, The Rumpus, 4/2012

“I never returned to my hometown for more than a couple of weeks once I left at 18, and my parents split up and moved out of state soon thereafter. Chicago is my home. I don’t even fantasize anymore about leaving it for somewhere sunnier or more spectacular. A sojourn, a sabbatical, sure. That’d be great. That’d be fun. An affair. But Chicago is my home. There’s so much here. The Russian shore, the Caribbean coast, that place at Devon and Maplewood where the traffic chokes and the sari shops beckon. The smell of burnt duck on Argyle. The way the bike path widens when you come up on the volleyball players around Fullerton Beach. The way Michigan Avenue slices a straight, clean edge of skyscrapers apart from the infinite lake. And the cacophony of Wicker Park. . .”

Penn StateDropping the Ball, The Nervous Breakdown, 1/2011

“In real life, child abusers are often people who we love. Who we respect. Who we trust. Or who at the very least are part of the tightly woven fabric of our daily lives. And it’s very difficult to make a quick shift in perspective, from one view to another diametrically opposed: This person I know so well, care about, work with? This very normal person—maybe even handsomer than most, kinder, more successful . . . . How can he (or she, but usually he) be evil incarnate? If we see signs, we can’t quite recognize them. The pieces don’t come into focus as a readable whole. When someone steps forward with an experience or suspicion, he or she is often met with confusion or hesitation if not outright disbelief.”

TNBI Know, Right?, The Nervous Breakdown, 8/2011

“I’ve never been to therapy, but I know what a therapist would say about me blaming myself: I shouldn’t do it. I know I was too young. I was a small child. I know it’s OK that I didn’t tell anyone. And I know I don’t have to own anyone else’s pain. Not my mother’s, certainly. I know I’m not her. I know my daughter’s not me. These maxims have leeched into the air of modern life the way hormones from birth control pills have seeped into the water, so why would I pay for them to be laid out like tarot cards?”

Meditation on the Revelation of a Gang Rape of an Eleven-Year-Old Girl, The Nervous Breakdown, 3/2011

“I like to swim in the grey area of almost any dirty pool, and when my friend posed the question of why the hell would a girl go into a bathroom with big, drunk Ben Roethlisberger, I was up for some discussion about how stupid women can be, especially when it comes to the mix of fame and men and money. (For the record, I’ve done some more clicking as I’ve been writing this, and it’s not at all clear that the Georgia accuser agreed to go into a bathroom with Roethlisberger.) We talked about our culture, how sexed up it is, how even clothes for little girls are provocative. How at four years old girls are already wearing short shorts with writing across the butt when they should be wearing smock dresses until they’re ten. But when I caught myself nodding as if there were some causal link between the selection in the Target girls’ department and rape culture, I took a few steps back.”

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