Reviewed by Fiona Ingram for Readers Favorite~ Awarded 5 stars.
The author describes this book as a novel based on a true story. It is not a nice story. This is the story of Taylor, a victim of sexual child abuse by her brutal stepfather from the age of three, a vicious and continuing horror that lasted well into her teens. Later, as an adult, she discovered that her emotionally distant mother knew about it all the time. From a tender age, Taylor was exposed to betrayal on all levels: emotional, spiritual and physical. This tragedy scarred her life, creating a sense of degradation within her, and blighted her perceptions on relationships for many years.
Child abuse is a dark, dirty secret in countless homes. Some grim statistics tell us just how prevalent it is. More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way. Approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education. About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse. Presence of a stepfather in the home doubles the risk of sexual victimization for girls. It is hard to imagine anyone enduring and surviving such unspeakable cruelty: a childhood stripped of trust and innocence, and all beliefs shattered. This book is a harrowing tale of relentless, violent sexual abuse that made it difficult for Taylor to rebuild a life destroyed before it really began, and to embrace relationships. Drawn to abusive men, she saw all men as sexual predators, and her inability to relate properly meant the inability to form a stable loving relationship. Years of stalled relationships finally resulted in a marriage that was dogged by her husband’s destructive mother. Matrimony and motherhood brought some joy into Taylor’s life, but not enough to heal the hideous internal scars on her psyche. Only a dreadful climactic event finally broke the shield of fear she had created, and forced her to stand up, fight back, and win! This event was unwittingly the way for Taylor to find redemption, self-love, and the feelings of self worth that make us human.
Taylor Evan Fulks is a talented wordsmith, able to conjure up the hideous experiences with remarkable clarity and emotion. She writes from the heart, and the agony of real experience lends authenticity to her riveting descriptions, fleshing out the sheer brutality of each moment of terror and pain for readers. It is one thing to read a fiction story about horrible events but it is another to read what a human being has endured and survived. This is not for the faint-hearted, but I would recommend this book for anyone who has ever suffered similar abuse. The story ends with light, hope, and the will to survive — part of the human condition.
Reviewed by Anne Boling for Reader’s Favorite~Awarded 5 stars.
|“My Prison Without Bars: The Journey of a Damaged Woman to Someplace Normal” by Taylor Evan Fulks is based on the life of the author. This book opens with Taylor lying on a bed with broken ribs, gasping for breath, a broken nose, and a possible concussion. The year was 1981 and she was on Spring Break when she was assaulted. At this point the narrative shifts back through time to West Texas in the 1950s. Taylor’s biological father, Gerald, was violent. She was practically a baby when her mother divorced him and married a former boyfriend, Gene. Gerald signed a document giving up all rights to Taylor and Gene adopted her. When she was three he began his little “games” with her. The games led to fondling her which led to rape. After years of torture, abuse, threats and manipulation Taylor kicked him where it hurt and told her mother about the abuse she suffered for years at his hands. Her mother left him for a while and then allowed him back in their life. Her mother made excuses for Gene’s behavior and placed all the blame on Taylor. Eventually she was placed in foster care but even there she was not safe. She married Tony and had two children when she discovered his unfaithfulness. It seemed that all her life she had a sign on her back that said ‘abuse me.’ While at a conference she was once again attacked and nearly killed. It was at this point in her life that she realized she could only be a victim if she allowed herself to be the victim. She realized that no one was going to come to her rescue. It was time to stop thinking her mother would protect her. It was time to fight for her own life. I would like to deal with the technical part of this review first. This book is well written. The plot is well done and well developed. Now to the content: A good writer can describe something and allow the reader to picture it in their mind’s eye. A great writer can describe something and allow the reader to experience it. Fulks is a great writer. I felt as if I was Taylor. I was horrified by the pain and degradation she was forced to endure. I could smell the mixture of blood and semen. I could hear her scream. I am appalled at what she suffered. I wanted to shake her mother. I hope that writing this book brought a tiny bit of closure to Taylor’s horror. Perhaps it helped the nightmares to stop. I believe Taylor put pen to paper in the hope that her story would help someone else. I admire Taylor Evan Fulks for baring her soul so that others might be saved.|
MY PRISON WITHOUT BARS
The Journey of a Damaged Woman to Someplace Normal
Fulks, Taylor Evan
CreateSpace (434 pp.)
$9.65 paperback, $4.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-1477646557; November 24, 2012
The disturbing account of real-life physical and sexual child abuse and its long-lasting effects.
Escaping into a world of fiction often provides a welcome diversion: the forces of good triumphing over evil and an ending that pleasantly satisfies. This book will not leave you with that feeling. The brutal account includes graphic descriptions of child abuse, both sexual and physical, and is not for the faint of heart. Instead of supernatural or larger-than-life “bad guys,” the demons who haunt the story of Fulks’ childhood are all too real. To her credit, Fulks weaves a compelling narrative with commanding prose and unforgivingly detailed descriptions of truly horrifying experiences. As she moves past her childhood, she intensely describes how her experiences colored even the ordinary aspects of her life, from dating to marriage and even having children. Although there are a few bright spots in her story, the overall tone is indisputably bleak; readers won’t come away believing in the power of positivity. But for being so concerned with issues as serious as those raised here, the narrative maintains a refreshing outlook: Without sugarcoating the problems, Fulks trusts the reader enough to lay everything out on the table, no matter how gruesome or shocking. The horrors described are truly harrowing, but if readers can make it through, they’ll likely come away changed and perhaps with a sharper perspective on the terrible long-term effects of child abuse. The reality might just be too real.
A detailed, deftly told narrative that will shock even the stoutest readers.
Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media LLC, 6411 Burleson Rd., Austin, TX 78744