Bitter Memories by Sue Julsen

71uztd-bdnlOnce read, most reader’s will undoubtedly consider the author to be a very brave woman. To put these experiences into writing, let alone publishing them for all the world to see, must have taken considerable courage. Readers should know, when initially writing and publishing this book, the author chose to conceal her own and other’s identities; ‘To protect the innocent and the guilty’. Nevertheless, she has subsequently been brave enough to reveal her identity by publishing photographs of herself. This woman’s courage has to be admired: how many others would have been prepared to take such a step?

This memoir comprises accounts of how the author was kidnapped by her own father, twice! On the first occasion her family and the authorities managed to quickly retrieve her. However, and regrettably, the father learnt from his first attempt. When taking her again, at the age of three, he changed tactics and escaped from the area undetected. From here on the reader is given insight into the awful and heartrending circumstances this innocent child endured as well as the horrible and difficult situations and treatment she would be subjected to for the following seven years:

  • Initially her father’s abuse consisted of virtually starving her though he ensured he had enough for himself.
  • For several years they spent most of their life in the car driving from one state to another, presumably to avoid the authorities.
  • He made her steal items he could sell.
  • Within a short period, the abuse took on more traditional forms: teaching her how to service and satisfy him.
  • In time this abuse extended to other acts and allowing others to ‘use’ her.
  • He often went off with women leaving his very young daughter alone in the car, without food or bathroom facilities.
  • Occasionally they stayed with a variety of women but some of these also proved unpleasant and cruel.

Events did change and appeared to promise a better life but more heartache and sadness were to follow.

In the opening chapters the author has done an excellent job of capturing how a two and three years old will talk. The reader does ‘hear’ a child’s voice in their mind, despite the occasional adult word, which can occasionally throw them off. Nevertheless, in the subsequent chapters the reader needs to constantly remind themselves this is a very young child they are ‘listening’ to; the language becomes increasingly adult in style. In fairness it must be pointed out this phraseology is what the little girl heard all the time and consequently, to her was ‘normal’ language. It would help if there was an occasional reminder of the girl’s age: after mentioning how old she was when kidnapped her age is not mentioned again until nine. Of course there is also the fact, although not referred to, many young people, who have been subjected to such traumatic events, grow up very quickly and will talk and consider life in a far more mature manner than would be expected from their years.

Another aspect, which would have been useful to the reader, is to know what the father’s motivation had been for kidnapping his daughter. Was it:

  • to hurt his wife;
  • to have someone to dominate, control, abuse;
  • because he actually had a deep down, if warped, love for his daughter;
  • because he was a paedophile?

Perhaps it was a combination of all or some of the above.

In the epilogue there is a one-off slight suggestion that he did these things to hurt his wife but the point is not clear. The author has published further books and it may well be the answers to these questions are contained therein.

The author must be commended on how, despite having to write about horrific and unwonted sexual abuse, she conveys the facts. She does this in a manner that, without being over explicit, leaves the reader in no doubt as to what had been going on. The book rightly carries the warnings: “Adult language and graphic content” and “Not suitable for children”, which it is not.

On top of everything else the author also suffered a multiple personality, presumably her mind’s way of dealing with the experiences, with not just one but four different characters. Without this defence mechanism she probably would not have remained sane, if she survived at all. She is to be congratulated upon how well these multiple personalities are conveyed to the reader. It must have been very confusing for her as a child; adults suffering such find it difficult enough. When reading these passages, the reader may sometimes get a little muddled with who is whom however, this confusion helps them comprehend a little of what the author was experiencing.

This is a very emotional read and in no way can it be described as pleasant. It is difficult, due to the content, to settle on an overall rating nevertheless, four stars (4*) seems appropriate.

The subject of this book is something all should be aware of and is recommended to everyone. It would also help those who have suffered similarly to know they are not alone and to see, the ‘victim’ in this tale has survived and they may also.

More information about Sue Julsen and her books may be found in her website.

The book is available as a paperback; as an e-book and as an audiobook.        

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s