Bitchery Reader Gives Very Personal Thanks

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 Death”.  I tried to read “Naked” 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 “Naked” 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 “people” saving my sanity at that point — my counselor and Nora Roberts. 

Nora gets everything “right” about Eve and the abuse:  the “it happened yesterday/today feeling” 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 Death” 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 flashback” waking me every night.)  On the nights that I was getting 30 minutes of sleep, I would re-read my “In Death” 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 Death” 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 Death”, 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.


Random Musings

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  1. Nora Roberts says:

    I really don’t have words for this, but want to express my gratitude to Anonymous. I’m grateful and humbled, and wish her continued strength.

  2. MamaNice says:

    Ok, I admit it, I cried reading this. Maybe it’s just pregnancy hormones – but I don’t think so. Anonymous – I know you don’t know me from Jack (or Jill as the case may be) but I am so proud of you and hope your recovery and strength continue to grow. I hope one day you can tell your family – as a mother, I know it would rip my heart out to know my daughter (who is 4 at this moment) lived through this…but it would be a thousand times worse if I never had the chance to help her through it and be there for her – whether I found out 5 years after it happened, or 25 years – I would want to help her.

    I have yet to read a Nora Roberts book, but you better believe I will start now! I don’t think an author (or anyone) alive could expect better than that: now award, no recognition of talent – nothing – could be as awesome as knowing your work has helped someone in such an awesome way.

    I have to go hug my little girl now and be thankful for all I have too. Damn it.
    I’m crying again.

  3. kardis says:

    I too cried while reading your letter. I don’t have the words to express what I am feeling right now, but I will try. I wish you all the very best, may you get even stronger everyday. I am glad that you have the In Death books and an excellent counselor to help you through this.

    Although I don’t know you, I will be thinking about you today and hoping that you are well. Please continue to care for yourself, you are incredible.

  4. Words do have great power.  And our stories do have universal meaning.  I am moved by Anonymous’s story and how the power of Nora’s words helped her to accept and move on.  That is the best a writer could ever hope for, but even more important is that Anonymous found the strength to hear, and to overcome.  My prayers to Anonymous and all survivors on this Thanksgiving day.

  5. asrai says:

    Thanks for sharing the letter and story Sarah and Anonymous. I’m hoping my library has some of these books.
    I was abused and while I don’t think it was quite that horrific, it’s never an easy thing to deal with.
    I highly recommend “The Survivor’s Guide to Sex” by Staci Haines for Survivor’s of any abuse.(Which is the focus of my blog).

    I also recommend her website to everyone which is dedicated to ending all sexual abuse within five generations by breaking the silence.
    Thanks again to SB’s for posting this.

  6. Thanks for sharing this.  It’s an amazing story of hope and healing, and perfect for the day.

  7. Barb Ferrer says:

    Add me to the criers.  I weep for anyone who’s suffered so, I weep with rage for anyone who feels the need to abuse anyone, much less a child—

    But I cheer, too—I cheer for Nora and that she created such an amazing character and of course, I cheer most for Anonymous’ strength in even seeking help, because that step alone, says so much.

    Thank you for sharing Anonymous

  8. Wow!  What a powerful letter, and what an incredibly strong woman who wrote it.

    I am always in awe of what some people have had to survive and work through.  It’s true that abuse takes it’s toll and continues to cause pain throughout the lives of those who experienced it.

    Having the courage to do the work and seek courage and support wherever you find it is powerful and inspiring.  Thank you Anonymous for sharing your story and your gratitude.

  9. jessica says:

    I am humbled by Anonymous and what she went through. On this day of thanksgiving she will definately be in my thoughts and prayers that she continues to move foward from this horrific tragedy.

  10. PattiR says:

    Anonymous, I wish you the best in your journey towards Healing.  You will be in my prayers for continued strength and courage.  You are truly a courageous person.  Thank you for sharing your story.

  11. RandomRanter says:

    Oh, i cried to, with nary a pregnancy hormone in sight.  Anonymous, thank you for sharing your story.  I’m so glad you have been able to make progress in dealing with this terrible trauma.  And thanks to Nora and all the writers that create these wonderful characters.

  12. Julia says:

    I don’t have the words to express how sorry I am for your suffering, but know that you are being sent the love and prayers of this community of readers, Anon. I give thanks today for people like you, who look darkness and evil in the face but have the strength to continue on. Your courage and determination make you every bit as heroic as Eve and Nora.

  13. Deanne says:

    Anonymous, I will be praying for you as you continue on with your recovery. How wonderful that you have had 9 months free of those flashbacks. I hope that continues and you never suffer through them again.
    I had the pleasure of meeting Nora this past summer and I have to say she is an awesome women. She was very friendly and accomidating with her fans. Her writing is for me a great escape, and to know that she has helped you with something so serious is amazing.
    Stay strong and may you be blessed for the rest of your days.

  14. Deena says:

    I’m glad I’m not alone in the crying corner.

    Anonymous, thank you for sharing with us. I can imagine that it’s not easy to share your story with anyone, but you have, and continue to be, so brave in the face of this terrible thing.

    I’m thankful for the opportunity to read your letter. I too find Eve a compelling character. I find her flashbacks horrific; I can’t imagine yours.

    My hope for you is that you are able to overcome the shame and recognize the amazing person you are to have come so far against such overwhelming odds. I hope too that when you are able to tell your family their response is exactly what you need.

    Thank you SBs for posting the letter. What an amazing place you’ve made that someone could share something so personally painful here.

  15. Kristie(J) says:

    Yes – thank you for sharing how much these books have touched you and helped heal you.  And I wish you continuing healing from your horrendous ordeal.
    Some books can strike a cord in us and help us get through incredibly tough times.

  16. liz says:

    More than once I’ve accused Nora Roberts of having to have had SOME kind of abuse background, but no, she’s just that good. I’ve a somewhat bleak past of my own, and nothing makes me angrier than when a romance writer takes an abuse topic and doesn’t Get It Right. In any book she’s dealt with it, Nora’s gotten it right. To me, it’s shown the respect she has for those of us unlucky enough to know what Right looks like. I’ve always been glad her readership is so large – that means thousands of people understanding something they might not have, and then being more able to understand survivors.

  17. taybug says:

    For a woman who has been accused of having a heart of stone, I’m sitting in my office right now, hoping no one can see the tears in my eyes. What a powerful letter.

    Anonymous, I am awed by your strength. And I am so happy that you found somewhere to draw even more strength from, even if it is a fictional character.

    For Nora, I cannot think of any higher compliment to the caliber of her writing and her humanity.

    I have a very weak belief in any deity, but, Anonymous, you are in my prayers this weekend to Whomever is listening.

  18. Bernita says:

    Makes me weep too, in sorrow and sympathy – and in a kind of fierce pride that Anonymous will not let herself be defeated.
    Anonymous, you are an incredibly strong and triumphant person.

  19. Conscripted Cherry says:

    Tears of heartbreak for the child and tears of pride for the person you have become-

  20. Ann Aguirre says:

    It was very brave to put this into words. I hope you continue to heal and grow stronger, and I’m grateful you found the Eve books when you needed them most. The world would be a dimmer place without a person of your strength and mental resolve.

  21. Grace says:

    Anonymous, I am humbled and amazed by your resilience and your courage.  What you suffered may have well broken a lesser person.  But you’ve survived and persevered.  I am in awe and wish you all the very best. 

    You have offered a tribute to a writer that no amount of money or professional praise can equal.

    I’m now off to hug my three young children.  I’ll be thinking of you and your amazing strength.  God bless.

  22. **joanne says:

    Eve has always made me cry and then applaud her courage and determination. Now, dear lady, so do you.

    Thank you for sharing and for living and for going on when so much was against you. I wish you a happy life, you have earned it and deserve it.

  23. Kaite says:

    Only when the survivors are open about it can real changes be made to stop it. Anonymous, I am so sorry this happened to you. No one and nothing deserves to be treated like that. I pray the day will come when you can fully come to terms with your past and hopefully, put it as far away as it can possibly go.

    You deserve a full night’s sleep.

    Don’t ever let him win. Take your life back and live it fully.

  24. Azurite says:

    A big thank you to Sarah for sharing the letter from Anonymous. Not only am I grateful for SBTB, because it is not only useful, but funny, but also for Anonymous, because we need more people out there who are courageous and, even if you elect to stay Anonymous, still come forward and tell others about what you’ve been through. I think it gives others strength and hope, whether they’ve been through what you have or not.

    That said, like many of the others, Anonymous, if you’re reading this, I do hope that one day you have the courage to tell your family. While it is great that you found comfort in NR’s books and   have a therapist that helped you, you should never take on anything alone. Some people aren’t born into families that can or will listen, but I hope that doesn’t apply to you.

    As someone who previously didn’t give much thought to Nora Roberts or any of her books, now I think I’ll definitely be checking out her “In Death” series. I had another friend who recommended it, but, suffice it to say, Anonymous’ letter was a heck of a lot more powerful in that respect.

    I hope that someone points Nora Roberts at this letter, because as a writer, I can imagine someone saying something like this would really strike me to my core. (I only hope it doesn’t somehow get used as a marketing ploy; those of us who read the letter and are choosing to give NR and “In Death” a chance are doing so of our own free will, not because Anonymous’ letter was published on the back jacket of the book…).

  25. Lucy says:

    Anonymous, thank you for sharing. I hope you will share this letter with Nora, I’m sure she would be touched. Eve is such a good voice for women everywhere.

  26. **joanne says:

    Nora Roberts was the first to reply, I would assume that the Bitches would give her the first read of it.

    And when you do read the In Death series I’m sure you’ll see the author’s love of her character and the care she takes with her character’s past and present.

    If you read or know anything about Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb there would never be any speculation on her “using” a victim of any crime. I just had to say that.

  27. Nora Roberts says:

    ~(I only hope it doesn’t somehow get used as a marketing ploy; those of us who read the letter and are choosing to give NR and “In Death” a chance are doing so of our own free will, not because Anonymous’ letter was published on the back jacket of the book…).~

    I would never do anything like that, or allow it to be done. It would cheapen something extraordinary.

  28. laurad says:

    Anonymous, you are a woman of extraordinary courage.  Thank you for sharing your thanks to Nora with us.  My prayers and best wishing for your continued healing and continuing good night’s sleep.

  29. Ciar Cullen says:

    My prayers for your continued healing, anonymous.

  30. Robin says:

    Some people aren’t born into families that can or will listen, but I hope that doesn’t apply to you.

    This is always what makes me most angry—that there are children who either don’t think they can trust anyone to help them or who know they can’t.  That there are children out there being tortured by adults who should instead be in prison for their crimes.  That we aren’t protecting these children better, and that they grow up—IF they grow up—to carry a shame they shouldn’t have to feel, to have memories they shouldn’t have to have, to heal from something they never should have had to endure in the first place.  That we have not made our planet, our nations, our cities, our neighborhoods safe for those who need the most protection.  That, it seems to me, is a crime in and of itself, one for which those of us who didn’t have to endure that kind of torture should be trying harder to change or else carry the victims’ shame on our own backs.

  31. melisa says:

    Add me to the list of those who have cried over this letter.  My thought and prayer’s go to the author of this letter.  Here’s to many a full night of sleep with only good dreams. I hope that comes sooner rather than later for you.

  32. Nat says:


    You are a woman of courage and strength – even if you may not believe it all the time.

    You are getting the help you need to live as normal a life as you can. It takes a strong person to admit that help is needed and the fact that you’ve been able to survive is a testament to your will.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Hopefully, someone out there will read it and get courage from it and seek out help for themselves.

  33. SandyO says:

    Anonymous, I as well cried as I read your letter.  Bless you and the strength you’ve shown to overcome such circumstances.  I hope you know that you’ll always have the Bitchery’s support.

    And on a different note, for all the people who put down genre fiction as trash.  This letter shows the power of the word.  La Nora should be so proud (as I am sure she is).

  34. Chrissy says:

    To everyone who considers romance fluff, or thinks romance authors can take the easy road… even to publishers who sell crappy romance, maybe…


    See what Nora did?

    See what romance can do?

    How magic and lovely and awesome and cool as all get out is that?

  35. The books weren’t by Nora, the situation only slightly different, but romance novels saved my sanity and kept me from caving into the insanity caused by abuse. Thank you to all who take the time to write and make a difference in the lives of women.

  36. C says:


    It was Nightshade by Nora that helped me see that only did I have the right to be happy, but deserve to be.

    Thank you for reminding me of this important lesson.

  37. Just Me says:

    When evil walks this earth, God sends angels in undercover.  Anonymous, I hope you realize that just as Ms. Roberts has touched you, you’ve done the same for many of us who have read your letter.

    Thank You

  38. SB Sarah says:

    Anonymous asked me to post the following message for y’all to read:

    Thanks for the many kind words of support and encouragement.  Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse often live in a lonely shame-filled world.  I do not let many people close for fear of being hurt again and only one of my three close friends knows about the abuse.  As Deena noted it is a testament to the shining soul of SB Sarah that I felt safe enough to share the story of my abuse with her and ensure that the great Nora was acknowledged for saving my life.

    As a child I couldn’t tell my parents about the abuse because my abuser threatened to kill my family if I told.  He and his wife were regarded by my mother as her surrogate parents/grandparents which meant they were the ones with the spare key to our house.  He ignored my pain, tears and blood as he abused me so it wasn’t much of a stretch of imagination to find him capable of harming my family.

    As an adult, besides the horrible feeling of shame that counseling still hasn’t fixed, I don’t tell my parents because they are devout Catholics who to this day refuse to believe that priests have ever abused a child (in their minds the payouts by the Catholic Church are made because it is cheaper than the litigation.)  It would be devastating if I told them about my sexual abuse and they aren’t capable of believing me.  My counselor initially felt that telling my parents was vital to my recovery, but she now feels that the damage from their potentially disbelieving response is not worth the risk.

    I don’t want my abuser to win and at this point I have fought back so that I feel like I am winning more battles than I am losing…having no flashbacks for 9 months definitely helps.  For those of you who read the “In Death” books, Nora gets it right…you feel like the abuser is still in you/on you when you wake up screaming from a flashback.  I used to turn myself lobster red from the hot showers I’d take after a flashback and go sit outside on my patio until morning so I wouldn’t feel trapped.  Please pray to whatever deity you believe in that I can make a 1-year anniversary of “No Flashbacks” on February 3, 2008 – that will be such a major milestone and make me feel like I have defeated my abuser.

    The only battle that my abuser has won is my decision to never have children.  While I still have several child-bearing years left, I decided years ago that I could never provide a healthy/happy environment for a child if I was unable to trust anyone to be alone with him/her (SB Sarah and Nora Roberts might be the only 2 exceptions…and that’s just because I feel like their souls shine brightly whenever I read their writing).  While I am doing much better, trusting people is still very difficult – and trusting them with my child would be impossible.  I’d never trust my parents with my child because they never noticed my torturous abuse for six years or the missing underwear, the damp hair or clothes from washing off semen or honey, the bruises on my hips and back or the never-ending times I’d hurt myself so that I had some explanation for the blood that was sometimes on my clothes. Nora Roberts has said that if Eve had a baby it would be the end of the “In Death” books, and I fully agree with that because Eve would have to have her own issues about trusting the care of her child to anyone but herself or Roarke.

    For those of you who are thinking of reading Nora Roberts for the first time, I just want you to know that she is an exceptional writer who must be one hell of a lady.  Her characters leap off the page and into your heart.  I would recommend the “In Death” books because not only are they wonderfully written, but they can also give you insight into the constant struggles faced by adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse as they strive to win back their lives.  I figure that if Nora Roberts has an aura it is either pure gold or brilliant white, because in order to write so powerfully that she can save someone’s life she has to be an angel sent from God.

    Thanks again for the kind words, having SB Sarah share the letter with you has definitely been a positive experience for someone who usually keeps the abuse so private.

  39. Fizz says:

    To Anonymous,

    I’m not sure I have the words to express how humbled and downright awed I am to see your strength in the face of something that I know is brutal and painful and horrible beyond all imagining. I was also molested as a child – I was twelve then, now 19 – and every day since, I’ve struggled to comprehend why anyone would ever wish to harm a child like that. I’ve spent years wondering what I must have done wrong to earn it, why I ‘wasn’t strong enough’ to fight, why the dreams wouldn’t go away, why I couldn’t forget what a stranger did to me when he came into my home and left my parents asleep upstairs.

    What you’ve shared here…thank you so much. I’ve tried to find better words to say what I truly mean here, but I don’t think there are any. If these words exist, I don’t know them.

    Thank you for your courage. Thank you for showing me that however long it may take to get there, however slow and gradual the process may be…all scars can heal. I look forward to February 3 2008.

    A brief postscript to Nora Roberts – Thank you for helping this person, who may never find out that they’re helping me.

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