Never a Hero to Me by Tracy Black

Tracy Black is the pseudonym for the author who writes about her childhood of abuse. Tracy was just 5 years old when her mother got hospitalized and her father uses the opportunity to abuse her.

She was told to be the ‘woman of the house’ because her mother was not around. She is made to do the housework, and subjected to sexual abuse by her father. Hers was a dysfunctional family, with no real affection between her mother and father. Her mother seemed unconnected with her daughter, while she was extremely protective towards her older son. Whatever Tracy did was wrong in her mother’s eyes. Approaching her mother with what her father was doing to her was out of question.

She remarks how even her teachers did not pick up on the clues. Her father used to make her do all the house work – including washing and dying clothes. More often than not, she turned up in school in smelly clothes, but none of her teachers raised any concern, especially as her condition did improve when her mother was around and she was always well-turned out until her mother got hospitalized.

Her father was in the British army, and they relocated quite a few times. None of the moves made any real difference to Tracy’s life, with her father abusing her, whenever he got a chance. From the age of 5 till she was twelve, abuse carried on. Her father used to call her a ‘prostitute’. She recounts how once her teacher was talking about ‘Protestants’, and she got up and told her proudly that she knew what that was, ‘I am one, My father calls me a prostitute’. Sadly, even this went unnoticed.

As she grew older, she resorted to bad behaviour outside home in an effort to get attention. At one point she told a social worker, who refused to believe her. By this time, her father had started ‘loaning’ to his other paedophile friends by sending her to baby sit their children. She even gets abused by her own brother.

Finally one Commanding Officer listened to her, believed her, and helped her get away from the hell that was her home. She gets sent to a boarding school that the army paid for her.

The author says

I know I’m not the only child who suffered these horrors, but if in writing this I can reach out to even one person and that them what I’ve learned, it will be worth it. It is never the child’s fault. There is nothing you can do that makes abuse something that you deserve.

She goes on to say, ‘ Some people complain that books like these are distasteful. I think raping children is distasteful.’ Can’t really dispute that, can we? The book is written in a very straightforward manner, without overly graphic descriptions, while ensuring that her confusion and pain comes through. A little girl forced to do things which she has no way of understanding, being told that the only way her mum can get better is if she is a ‘good girl’ for her father. And her confusion when no matter how obedient she was, her mother still continued to be ill, and still showed no love towards her…

How was the book? Depressing, upsetting, heart-wrenching. Makes you sick to think that someone could do things like this to their own children. Reading this is not pleasure, but for me books like these is a reminder that we can never be sure of where the danger lurks. That our precious children can be at harm from almost any quarter. Child abusers are regular people, even respected people, ordinary people, who don’t carry badges or ‘looks’ that set them apart.

In the author’s words,

They don’t have ‘evil’ stamped on their foreheads, they don’t carry placards proclaiming what they are. They hide and stay hidden. They are among us and they are very, very clever.

All we can really do is be alert, educate our children, be ready to listen to them and let them know that they can approach us with anything.

A book(like many others) that needs to be read, just so that we are parents don’t get complacent, in my opinion. I have heard people believing that these sorts of things never happen in India, but a read through the Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Blog is enough to understand that perverted people exist everywhere.

While this book might have been situated in the West, things like this happen everywhere.

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8 thoughts on “Never a Hero to Me by Tracy Black

  1. My heart broke on reading this review, Smitha! What a childhood the author must have led. How unfortunate that nobody believed her or paid enough attention to her to get her out of her predicament!

    How can people do that to their own children?! Sick and disgusting.

    I do not usually read such books as they make me extremely depressed, but as you say, it is a means to know what does happen to people while you are safe within your house. It is a reminder to be careful at every moment, as danger could be lurking at any corner.

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  2. Gosh this is definitely heart breaking…I dont think I can read such a book, I would get too depressed..because I have realised that reading books has a pretty strong impact on me 😦

    Thanks for sharing this and yes, making us aware, yet again, that Child Abuse needs to be addressed seriously

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  3. A little girl forced to do things which she has no way of understanding, being told that the only way her mum can get better is if she is a ‘good girl’ for her father.

    Can’t even begin to imagine the horror. As if the abuse was not bad enough, the emotional blackmail to an unsuspecting child…to make sure the crime stays hidden. 😐
    I again repeat, castration is the only solution for such atrocities…

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    • I read this book when it came out and thought it was horrendous, however I thought maybe there was an under lying message that the Army knew about the abuse and it was hushed up. Surly they should’ve been held accountable? It smacks of the same regarding Jimmy Saville, did the BBC know and hush it up and if so they should be held accountable.

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  4. I am often in a dilemma whether to read such books or pass! But I always tend to pick up those ones which are autobiographical, because these things do exist. Another such book I have read is Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso, reviewed here http://wrenwarbles.blogspot.com/2011/06/library-and-finds.html. Took me a long time to get over it.
    And then again there are ones which have emotional/psychological abuse and behavioral dysfunctions like “Why be happy when you can be normal” by Jeanette Winterson. Still to read others by her. And I have not come across too many such books by Indian authors. Do let me know if you come across any.

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