New Memoir From an Abuse Survivor


Joy Willows’ new memoir, Joy, A Memoir of Emotional Abuse, has just been published and is available at Amazon. Here she tells us about her experience writing the book.

coverMany people thought I must have struggled and suffered while writing my book. However, that is far from the truth. I spent time doing just that during and after the periods of emotional abuse working out the psychological effects that could possible effect my life in a negative manner. Now, I have an inner joy and a propensity for hope.

My brain has, from the time of my first memories, taken Still Life pictures of events that have occurred. I remember where I was, who was there, what things looked like, and most of all what I felt and thought. To write my book, I did a slide show in my head to see and be able to write about the influential moments in which I understood or learned something.

My class with Denis Ledoux of Soleil Lifestory Network was of major importance. I was encouraged to take my memories and write about them. Denis asked me important questions that enabled me to write with more depth.

For instance, early in the book when I was telling the story of the black out shades and waking up the next morning seeing only light around the edge of the window. I wrote that “Mama had left for school.” Denis asked how I knew that.  After being able to re-experience that scene, I could then describe sleeping in bed with Mama, realizing that she was not in bed because the mattress didn’t slope towards her side of the bed. I had to put my three-year-old self into that bed and relive the scene to know why I could say she was gone.

In another story, about the day I was going to tell my husband I was leaving him, I had only said that I was looking out the window into the back yard.  Denis helped me pull out all the memories of the back yard to give a better description of life there…flower gardens coming into bloom, graves of pets, children playing and such. It gave the scene so much more depth that I took that suggestion and tried to use it in all the stories to have more descriptive scenes. I really lived each scene again.

I am a storyteller so I naturally wrote the book in the first person with the voice of the child becoming more mature. I enjoyed the entire writing process and it was NOT painful for me. If people speak of the pain the writing must have caused me to experience again, they must have been projecting their own pain in the reading. I have moved forward, with grace I have been told, and forgiven all the people who could be considered the abusers.

AuthorI wrote this book with the pen name of Joy Willows. The author’s picture of the little girl in the red dress is my granddaughter who is wearing a taffeta dress, which was made for me when I was seven and lived in Japan. She is sitting just as I would have been at that age.

I tried throughout this book to make a point of emotional abuse in each chapter.  Women need to understand that abuse is not just physical.


About Denis Ledoux

Denis Ledoux began helping people to turn their memories into memoirs in 1988. Denis was named Lifewriting Professional of the Year by the Association of Personal Historians in 1996. Today, Denis is a writer, educator, teacher, autobiography co-author, memoir-writing coach, editor and publisher. He directs The Memoir Network, an international group of memoir professionals who use his method and materials to help people write lifestories. Denis also offers writing tele-classes and leads memoir writing tele-groups.
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4 Responses to New Memoir From an Abuse Survivor

  1. I’m anxious to read your book! I didn’t experience too much bad in childhood, some emotional things I’d liked to have avoided, but my first marriage was both emotional and physical,so I know what that’s like. I’m writing a family memoir, so reading others’ stories really gives me a lot of inspiration. I’ll check your out. Thanks.

  2. Joseph Skinkis says:

    I usually write just boring facts. The part about you looking out the window into the garden and embellishing the scene gave me an insight into writing better memories.

    • Denis Ledoux says:

      Joe, every time you write, tell yourself that the characters need to be placed in a setting. They don’t exist in a vacuum–nor do we. Then, ask yourself if you are making use of the five sense to describe the scene in which you have placed your people. And, always use details. No need to write “tree” when you can write “oak.” Particular over general. Good luck!

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