THE JOURNEY OF MY LIFE
TOLD THROUGH THE THEME OF RAPE
A Memoir Blog by Marcia Jacobs
SO, WHY TELL MY STORY?
My story is an ancient, current and ever present one – the story of sexual violence.
Now, in my 78th year of life, it is my time to speak out and not take the story to my grave as, throughout history, so many victims have been forced to do. For all the voiceless ones, I choose to use my voice.
I have two compelling motivations for telling this story.
First, I am committed that all who have been sexually violated KNOW THAT THEY/WE ARE NOT ALONE.
Shame, guilt, threats from perpetrators, living in a “blame the victim” society, fear of being “damaged goods,” have silenced us. Isolation is a curse to moving forward from trauma. Connection is the blessing. We shall not be silenced. We shall not be isolated. We shall move from what Judith Herman (Trauma and Recovery, 1992) called, “private shame to public dignity.” Together.
Second, and inextricably woven into the stand that we are not alone, is my fervent desire to FURTHER THE CONVERSATION NECESSARY TO TRANSFORM RAPE CULTURE.
We live in an age when multiple conversations about sexual violence are taking place. There can never be enough of us speaking out. The #MeToo movement, and women’s movements before and since this, have embraced thousands of stories; small streams merging into raging rivers, forming the depths of the oceans. These are our offerings, from our blood and tears, to the interruption of rape culture. I offer
one small voice as a rivulet in that stream, to the river, to the ocean.
Why the blog format? Almost two decades ago I began to write this story as a memoir. Now the content, in chapters, or vignettes, is complete. I wanted to tell my story, but I somehow didn’t want to write a book. On a walk with a friend, when she asked why I was writing, I replied, “I want to be part of the conversation about rape, globally.” She responded, “Why not write it in a blog?" The blog format touched something in me which felt right; alive, present, ever-evolving, globally accessible and inclusive.
My story weaves three threads; my abduction and rape as a girl of 19 years old, my experience of having a daughter raped at the same age, and my work and connection with women raped in the war in the former Yugoslavia. In weaving these threads, I hope to share my journey, and discover more deeply how the threads connect.
So here I am. I woke up from a dream last night thinking; “This is a very personal and private story I am telling.” There was a tiny voice of, “maybe you shouldn’t…..” Then came a resounding; “But that is no reason not to tell it.” In this case the personal is indeed the political. Moving from private shame to public dignity.
My story is dedicated to all women survivors as they continue to do the work they do; living day to day and surviving their own lives, providing sustenance to others, telling their stories, breaking glass ceilings, fighting for justice, saving the world. The list is endless. This is for me, for them, for you. Welcome and thank you fellow travellers.
“Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has called violence against women the most serious, pervasive and ignored violation of human rights in the world.”
(The Carter Center)
READ THE MOST RECENT POST HERE:
My Memoir Blog is intended to be read as a story, from start to finish, with chapters/posts serialized weekly on Wednesdays throughout the spring of 2022. Although you can jump in anywhere, for the best reading experience begin at post 01.
Beatrice (Bess) Frankel Jacobs
1914 - 1999
With great joy
I launch my Memoir Blog
And dedicate it to my mother
Thank you mom
For giving me life
For supporting me in all my endeavours
Through often they caused you fear and worry for my wellbeing
Thank you mom
For loving me
For putting me first
For holding me gently and tenderly
Marcia and Mom
To all of you who endured the war in the former Yugoslavia, particularly Sarajevo, Bosnia where I lived and worked, you taught me the meaning of courage, as well as the value of humor. To the feminist activists, particularly at the Center for Women War Victims in Zagreb, Croatia, you have fought, and are still fighting, the valiant fight. To the women survivors of wartime rape, you gave my life, my work, and now give my writing, a purpose. Out of respect for your privacy, I will not credit you by name. When my stories relate to you, I have changed identifying information. You are
To my daughter Nicole for her steadfast loyalty and support, and for trusting me enough to give me carte blanche to write my own story as it relates to her experience. You are my heart.
I have been fortunate enough to have a multitude of friends with me over the decades during which my occasional missives on life in the war zone morphed into the possibility of something larger, a memoir. I conceived those early letters as a way of sharing my experiences with you; to communicate the morbid ugliness of war, the sheer destruction of artillery on civilization, all at a counterpoint to ordinary people trying their best to go about life with grace under fire. I am indebted to you for the support; financial, emotional, technical, I have received. Writing these stories has often required my going to “the dark side.” You have been “the light” to guide me on my way. Although I cannot mention all of you, know that you are close to my heart. You are my inspiration.
Speaking of friends, I must acknowledge Sharon Gretzinger who has been my friend/sister/colleague for 46 years. In the 1980’s and 90’s, when it wasn’t yet in fashion, we began co-leading therapy groups for adult survivors of childhood incest. Our work with these beautiful, gifted, creative women jarred me out of the societal bias of seeing abuse survivors (including myself) as “damaged goods,” needing fixing, or otherwise made defective from the abuse they suffered. It changed the trajectory of my work from a medicalized western-based approach to a Buddhist non-pathological approach. We took this journey together. Little did I know it then, but the group psychotherapy sessions we led would profoundly inform my work going forward, especially with women raped in war. I lived with you Sharon, played with you, travelled with you. Thank you for coming to Sarajevo immediately following the peace agreement at Dayton to see me and meet the people. Thank you for traveling with me to Crete to be with Nicole after her rape. And for holding my hand all this time, and never wavering, not even a little bit. And the beat goes on!
I am not, by vocation or inclination, a writer. As a pre-teenager, when all my friends had taken up madly scribbling in their journals, I was socializing, daydreaming, or playing baseball. It wasn’t until my first trip into Sarajevo in 1993, when I felt compelled to communicate to my friends what I was seeing, that writing became the necessary vehicle to share the full impact of the experience. If I had been a photographer, I would have used that medium. Instead, I began writing short vignettes. My blog post #4, “When Darkness Falls,” was my first such effort. I have needed enormous support to continue my writing, and have relied on the expertise of coaches, editors, tech persons, web builders, and blog enablers. I continue to rely on you as the work proceeds. I am eternally grateful.
Lesley Graydon, Ph.D., you were my first writing coach, editor, organizer, and so much more that I can’t adequately speak to all of it. Without you, Lesley, I would have thrown the project away years ago. You believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. You saw my story when I lost track of it. Most of all, you saw the importance of telling my story as a contribution to women victims of violence worldwide. I love you.
April Bosshard, of Deep Story Design, your writing coaching and editing, and your Drafting Circles, sustained me during difficult times. Though young in years, you are an old soul and wise woman. In your gentle way, you always managed to push just enough to get me settled down to work again, over and over. I discovered the structure of my story with your guidance. I treasure you and the women writers I have had the good fortune of meeting in your writing groups. I thank you.
Emma Parker, of elparkerdesign.com, last but definitely not least. You have been, and continue to be, my “blog whisperer.” Having your young, fresh eyes on my work has been immensely encouraging. You are a creative and imaginative editor, designer, supporter; and without you I don’t know how I could have lifted this memoir off my desk and onto a blog. Now the story is instantly available globally, and I have you to thank for that. As the blog lives into the future, we will have more work to do together, and I greatly look forward to that. To continued collaboration!