Aimee Nikolov’s stepfather began touching her inappropriately when she was seven; the rapes started on her twelfth birthday. Her ambitious, successful neurologist mother beat her regularly and turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse. Nikolov finally confided to her older sister that she was being sexually assaulted every day, setting off a viciously fought court battled dubbed by the Miami media as “the case from hell.”
Any one of the tragedies in Aimee Nikolov’s life could fill a book. Her life story encompasses a staggering string of attacks and manipulations that bring into sharp relief the idea of a cycle of abuse. Multiple rapes by strangers and relatives, a controlling boyfriend who forced her to have an abortion, and an obsessive ex-boyfriend fighting endlessly for custody of their daughter were just some of the hurdles Nikolov faced after leaving her abusive family. Seeking relief, she turned to drugs; to earn money, she became a high-end prostitute.
Nikolov wondered, as any reader of this book might, why she continued to be victimized. “My deepest fear at that time came to be myself. Did I want to be abused? Abusive people can smell this….” Nikolov writes that she sometimes sought out pain, the overriding emotion of her childhood and a key part of her identity. Sexualized by others since childhood, Nikolov still views her sexuality as an important part of her worth. She reports with delight that her husband paid for breast implants after she finished nursing her youngest child.
Nikolov used the many injustices in her life as a wellspring of religious conviction. Love of God and the conviction that God returned that love often provided her only emotional sustenance. The other savior in this book is the author’s husband, Boris Nikolov, portrayed as an almost impossibly understanding husband and father. When his wife fell back into drug addiction and began sleeping with men in exchange for crack, Nikolov agreed to pay for her drugs and let her smoke in the house while their children slept.
While the book packs raw emotional punches, it also suffers from some tangential storytelling—Nikolov’s discussion of presidential politics does not belong—and a general lack of editing. Still, the story effectively lays bare the insidious nature of toxic, dysfunctional families. Nikolov’s experience illuminates the complicated emotions of domestic and sexual abuse survivors, and their tumultuous, never-ending journey toward recovery.
LOVE IS THE ANSWER, GOD IS THE CURE offers insight into a life nearly destroyed by sexual and domestic abuse. At times flawed, the story powerfully conveys the devastating and long-lasting ripple effects of a violent and dysfunctional upbringing.
~Jane Constantineau for IndieReader