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I think that sexual abuse is one of the most terrible things that can happen to a child. The victims will be affected for their entire lives and left with a feeling of shame and guilt. This is what I knew before I started reading 'Someone to Watch Over Me' by Izzy Hammond. I had no idea whatsoever to what extend victim's life would be affected by the sexual abuse during childhood.
No one ever thought that Emily, the youngest and deaf of five children, didn't even dream of getting married. When she met Ronald, who was not only deaf but also had issues with his sight, and after some time he proposed, Emily was over the moon (and so was her mother). It seems to me that she could have been pushed into marriage in some ways as at that time (around 60 years ago or so) being a spinster would be a shame.
After the wedding, Emily and her husband lived with her mother, her brother and his wife. It soon became clear that something was wrong as Emily feared to say something in front of her husband, especially to express her own opinions but no actions were taken. The whole family was absolutely thrilled than after less than a year Emily and Ronald announced they were expecting their first child.
When the baby was born, the couple soon moved out, leaving the baby for Emily's family to take care of. However ridiculous that may sound, after seven years the deaf couple decided that Izzy was old enough to take care of her disabled parents and she should move in with her parents. Despite Mum and Dad's efforts (Izzy always considered her auntie and uncle parents), the authorities decided that it was the right decision.
Everyone pitied this family and this little girl who had to work hard in order to help her parents around the house. It is clear that Izzy's parents didin't really care about her. No one was aware of the nightmare that was happening in this family. Ronald was extremely moody and both his wife and daughter were scared of him. When Izzy was eight, he started visiting her at night. No one knew about the vicious abuse that was happening in this house. Izzy's childhood was simply horrible and the worst thing was, that once Ronald started telling her she was an evil child, she believed him and was convinced everything was her fault.
She started being rebelious and during her teenage years she was moved around from foster parents to an approved school (where bullying was normal). She was also running away. She had no money so her body was her only currency. She didn't hesitate to use it, simply thinking it was normal.
Everything was happening fourty to fifty years ago so the times were quite different. Social serviced failed to help Izzy but in the end, she managed to fight the demons from her past.
Undeniably, it was a difficult book. It is hard to read about such a vicious sexual abuse and it just made me feel angry and frustrated. I couldn't, however, bring myself to put the book down as I really wanted to know what happened next. I know that there are probably hundreds of similar books out there, but this is the first one I read (and I am not really sure I can take any more of it) and I believe we need to talk about things like this. The victims shouldn't feel guilty and they should be able to find support and care - at the end of the book, there are several phone numbers for survivors of abuse and rape.
Overall, it is a difficult but a good book.
Thank you for reading my review.
It may be also posted elsewhere.
Having finished a series of chick lit books I returned to my desk drawer to find what to read next. I thought I'd seen the last of the tragic life stories, but there was one lurking in the depths of my desk calling for me. For those who don't know, we have a charity book list at work where books cost 25p which goes to the local breast cancer unit - when the book is read we generally give them back for someone else to buy.
I keep telling myself that I won't read any more of these tragic life story books, but for some reason when they are 25p I feel I ought to buy them. I know that at some point this is going to have to stop as it's not healthy to keep reading this stuff.
As these books usually do, on the front is a picture of a young girl looking miserable. As these books usually do, there is a quote on the front from Richard McCann (author of 'Just a boy' which I'm sure I've read) saying how it's a powerful tale of triumph against all odds. I think he must be employed just to write quotes on the front of these books.
The blurb on the back of the book says "To the outside world, Izzy Hammond's deaf and partially blind parents were the subject of sympathy; inside the family home, their daughter was subjected to vicious abuse." This is actually incorrect as Izzy's parents were actually the subject of ridicule to the outside world - evidently the person who wrote the blurb hasn't read the book.
Izzy Hammond was born in the mid 1950s to deaf parents who didn't really care for her. But you'll find out about that when I talk about the story.
I doubt anyone is interested (I'm not) she has a MySpace page here (take out the gaps) - http:// profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction= user.viewprofile&friendid= 189150918
It's undeniable that Izzy Hammond had an awful childhood. She wasn't wanted by her parents, and spent her childhood being moved around, mainly in the south of England. There were some happy times spent living with her aunt and uncle and cousin Robert (the people she refers to as Mum and Dad), but unfortunately she was failed by social services and was unable to live with them. During the time she spent with her birth parents Izzy was subjected to horrific rapes and abuse by her father Ronald. Her mother Emily, petrified of Ronald didn't intervene. Ronald expected Izzy to act as a carer for himself and Emily, and Izzy's schooling was severely disrupted as a result.
Eventually Izzy was sent into care, and spent time in various different places including an 'approved' school where bullying was rife. As she grew up she learnt that she could use her body in order to get what she needed. Izzy was abused by numerous men, including a horrific gang rape.
Izzy's story is only too common in tales of abuse. By the time she was 31 she was getting married for the 4th time, with 3 children by three different men (she had her first at 15), men who were all abusive. Constantly on the move, Izzy's life had no stability. Her children as they grew up inevitably had serious behavioural problems, and of course they went on to have children at very young ages, and with no stability in their lives. Call me cynical, but I'm sure that the cycle will continue in their children.
I could go on and on, but you're probably getting the gist of things. Basically, following a vicious attack by a family member, Izzy completely broke down, and for the first time got the help she needed (at the Priory) and was able to start talking about her abuse and to begin to deal with it.
On a misery factor, this book would score pretty highly. The book left me feeling frustrated and angry. Although it ends on a positive note as things have improved for her, we are left knowing that the story hasn't really ended, and that the abuse Izzy suffered has not just affected her life, but the lives of those who come after her. It won't surprise me if her children all write their own tragic life story book.
Although it is an autobiography I notice after reading it that it's written by Izzy Hammond with Robert Potter. So it isn't actually written by her at all - she told her story to Robert Potter and he wrote it. Isn't that cheating really? It's also written anonymously, so no photos or anything like that - this is apparently to protect her family. Mind you I'm not surprised, the book doesn't really reflect well on her children.
Before the book starts Izzy says that the book is written in the hope that it will help other people (as they all do). But, published in 2007 there are already hundreds/thousands of these books already out there, so it isn't really adding anything new. It's tragic that Izzy had such a terrible life, but we have heard it all before now. Mind you, if people (like me) are going to read them, then more fool us!
My paperback copy is 286 pages long, split in 24 chapters, and published by Mainstream Publishing.
It's definitely readable if you like the tragic life story genre. Personally I'd give it 6 out of 10, and while it passed the time on the train to work, I'm glad I didn't pay more than 25p for it - its rrp is £6.99.