I’m personally thankful for a lot of things, from obvious items like the health and happiness of my family, to items like the freedom to write on this website and the amazing people who come and educate my Bitchy ass on a daily basis. I’m definitely thankful for the romance genre itself because of the hours of relaxation and happiness I’ve received from reading all those clinch-covered novels over the years.
But in my inbox I received a letter from a Bitchery Reader who wishes to remain anonymous. Anonymous is thankful for one particular author whose works have helped her heal from a horrific childhood trauma that continues to haunt her. If the character in this author’s books can heal from a similar experience, then so can Anonymous. Anonymous asked me to share the following letter with y’all. Please note, some of it is graphic so the more difficult parts are below the fold.
At Thanksgiving time, everyone usually takes a moment or two to think what they need to be grateful for — in my case it’s that God created Nora Roberts who was able to help save my life through the power of her words.
Nora Roberts may be a great author to her millions of readers, but to me she is a hero/savior for the lifeline that she created for me in the character of Eve Dallas.
I was sexually abused by a neighbor from the ages of 4 to 10 — progressing from molestation at 4 to blow-jobs by age 5 to actual intercourse by age 6. The longest interval I went without being abused over those six years was probably three weeks —and while the abuse was pretty horrific (using his penis to paint my face with honey or being raped bent over a bathtub), the lasting damage to my psyche was even worse.
In 1995 I finally found the courage to go to counseling for my sexual abuse. Coincidentally, that was also the year that Nora published “Naked in Deathâ€. I tried to read “Nakedâ€ that year, but as soon as I realized that Eve had been sexually abused as a child, I had to put the book down—afraid that I would have even worse flashbacks of my own abuse.
I didn’t have the strength to finish reading “Nakedâ€ until 1998 and at that point Eve Dallas became a lifeline to helping me survive (and recover) from the abuse. I was still having daily nightmares of the numerous rapes that plagued my childhood and was only sleeping about 1-2 hours per day. There were two “peopleâ€ saving my sanity at that point — my counselor and Nora Roberts.
Nora gets everything “rightâ€ about Eve and the abuse: the “it happened yesterday/today feelingâ€ after having a flashback; the different smells/tastes/touches that can send you reeling into a flashback (I almost had a meltdown several years ago when an old man got into an elevator with me reeking of Old Spice); the difficulty in loving/trusting anyone again; etc.
I clung to the “In Deathâ€ books and eagerly devoured each new book to see how Eve was developing/growing as a person as she dealt with her abuse. It gave me hope that I could get better too (even in the dark days of having to remove all knives from my house because I was feeling suicidal due to having what I now call a “five rape marathon flashbackâ€ waking me every night.) On the nights that I was getting 30 minutes of sleep, I would re-read my “In Deathâ€ books and take heart from the fact that I was not alone in the struggle against the demons of abuse.
My counselor even asked me at one point if I understood that Eve was a fictional character —the answer was yes, but the great Nora was able to make Eve and her reactions/problems so realistic that it helped me to not feel so alone and hopeless.
It took me 10 years to get to the point where I am now able to deal with the abuse so that I can sleep 5-6 hours per night and not be thrown into a rape flashback when someone simply touches me wrong. While my counselor deserves most of the credit, I am convinced that I would have killed myself four years ago when the flashbacks were consuming my life without Nora’s “In Deathâ€ books.
And as I have gotten better since 1995 so has Nora’s Eve Dallas. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was that Eve did not have a flashback in “Creation in Deathâ€, because I haven’t had one either for almost 9 months now (a record for me). That’s not to say that I have not been permanently scarred by the abuse, but like Eve I have learned how to accept it, move on and be the strong person I was meant to be.
So how do I say thank you to the Great Nora for saving my life? I want to shout to the rooftops that I am grateful for Nora’s powerful storytelling, because without her I would be dead. But I can’t because there are only about 12 people who know of my abuse (my family still doesn’t know) and I still feel shame about the abuse. So instead, when I see a book with Nora Roberts name on it, I always offer a prayer of blessing and gratitude to Nora for saving my life and helping me to overcome my abuse.
Nora Roberts is a great writer, but she is also a hero with one life saved to her credit. And for that, I am eternally grateful everyday…not just at Thanksgiving.