INSIDE/OUTSIDE tells the story of intergenerational abuse and loss in the author’s family. Hayworth find inspiration from her grandmother, in a dream, to write her family’s story in order to make sense of her life and family’s history and to try to future abuse.
The author, dis-fellowshipped (that is, shunned and treated as if she were dead) from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, vividly describes the physical and psychological abuse she endured growing up in a family where sexual abuse is the norm and rigid, unhealthy religious beliefs are sacrosanct.
As a result, Hayworth suffers from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, insecurity and panic attacks, and she retreats into a make-believe (including an “Inside Mum” and other fantasy figures) world in order to cope. The author describes how she ceases to feel anything anymore and her inability to express anger or fear appropriately, even after she is sexually assaulted by another male later on. Her mother’s depression, father’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, her desire to conform to the strict tenets of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and dealing with her own children’s being sexually abused greatly add to her problems. Like many abused children, the author tries to conform, but it comes at the price of her own happiness.
Reading, being a parent, a ginger-colored kitten named “Mango” and writing bring healing. Writing, especially, becomes the author’s elixir as she learns how to bridge her internal world with the real world and fleshes out her family’s secrets in intimate detail. There’s plenty of trauma, alcohol and sexual addictions, emotional and physical abuse, family drama and thoughtful reflection in INSIDE/OUTSIDE. The author’s engrossing life story is engagingly written and readers will find it impossible to put down the book once they’ve started reading it.
INSIDE/OUTSIDE is a compelling must-read memoir for anyone who has experienced sexual or religious abuse or anyone who works with the victims of such abuse.
Reviewed by Robin Carr for IndieReader.