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surviving childhood abuse

Surviving Childhood Abuse: a Neglected Child – Part 3

In this third interview, Denise Brown continues to share her experience of writing Transcending Darkness: A Memoir of Abuse and Grace. This is a startling tale of a neglected child —of an entirely neglected family. To read Part 1, click here. For Part 2, click here. —DL

DL: How do you recommend people deal with sensitive material that relatives might take offense at?

DB: Believe it or not, I still have not told my parents that I wrote a memoir. Having been a neglected child, I have very limited communication with them and have not felt the need to bring it up to them. I’m not worried about them stumbling upon it. They are late in life, and my father doesn’t read anyway.

However, two years before publication, I sent a copy to all of my sisters, each of whom had also been a neglected child and who are written about at length. I asked them to read it and to give me comments on what they thought and to make sure that I didn’t have any of the events in our lives misinterpreted or misremembered. All of them were very supportive and they had some very helpful comments. I changed everyone’s names in the book except for my own. 

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Each of us who publishes a memoir has to figure out what is appropriate for each family member. It is very dependent on each person’s circumstances. My one piece of advice is to tell the truth in your memoir, not a bitter truth but the hard truth. That is where a sympathetic family member comes in so that they can let you know if it is your hurt and anger about being a neglected child speaking or if your story is an accurate depiction of the events. Don’t outright call someone bad, describe the actions that made them so and let the reader decide.

DL: Did you envision yourself as a writer before you begin this book? What is your identity as a writer now?

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