Memoirs about everything from minor subjects as trivial as how to tie your shoes to major works detailing trauma and tragedy that expands far outside the normal range of human experiences, such as Surviving Auschwitz scatter the marketplace. A memoir is an account written from personal knowledge that professes historical accuracy, and personal honesty when the narrative is based on a true story of some significance. A meaningful memoir should leave a message behind, much like the duly acclaimed memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. In Caged Bird, the personal struggle of young Maya to reclaim her self-esteem and identity after being raped, emerged into a powerful and poetic story of resilience. The inspirational message is you can survive and become stronger after earthshaking trauma; in Maya Angelou’s case, she became her own earthshaking force as world renown poet, writer, philosopher and mentor to Oprah Winfrey.
My own story is reminiscent of my past through the lens of the wisdom acquired through life, and told with the passion acquired by suffering tragedy and trauma. My story is raw and personal.
My Story is a Memoir that recounts a childhood that was far from normal in which octogenarians relatives saved me just long enough for me to recover from the damage of early childhood neglect and abuse, before my life catapulted me into the heart of a violent and abusive marriage to a mentally ill Vietnam Veteran when I was only sixteen years old. My Story is a Memoir, Torn From the Inside Out and its message is clear: Domestic Violence bends, breaks, and kills. Too many victims never escape except through death, far too many who escape the actual abuse as damaged children, grow up to become broken adults who perpetuate the damage done to them: Broken People, Break People, and Hurt People, Hurt People. The cycle of abuse has be stopped; although domestic violence survivors champion resiliency and strength, the children bear the scars.
My Story is designed to raised understanding and awareness of domestic violence and its effect upon human lives, not just the lives of women, but all lives, the lives of men, women, and children.
Torn From the Inside Out
This book is for me and my children, as well as the millions of veterans of domestic war: those who live in homes predominated by domestic violence. Some survive the violence, stronger in some ways, and broken in others, and some do not survive at all.
In memory of the dead victims of domestic violence, I have retold stories of those who became casualties. The stories below are all true; I retold them from the perspective of my own visualizations in an effort to give some validation to lives wasted, and mostly forgotten. Some things are too precious to forget, such as the lessons of history, and the deeds of unsung heroes, for if we stumble into the habit of forgetting, we lose both the value of life and the opportunity to become a wiser and stronger generation. If we forget, we lessen our children’s heritage and cheat them of the legacy of their pasts, therefore we can never forget.
I lived a life that was far from ordinary, and even far from normal. I was given away when I was barely over three years old to two aged, octogenarian relatives who had been childless until their early eighties, when they received me, much like a human gift. I was cherished and protected by them, that is, as long as they could offer such protection I lived in ‘The Garden of Eden’.
Time passed and I found myself far removed from such valued protection when I was on the brink of losing my life to a violent abuser, one I had married and pledged to spend a lifetime with. My life would take me far from my life’s oasis, my childhood Garden of Eden.
I am the hungry little girl who sat in the sand over fifty years years ago, waiting to be rescued by an ancient old man. I am Sara Niles, and this is my story:
The Garden of Eden
Thunder rattled the window- panes two stories high and lightning split the sky; it was as if the whole world was in turmoil that night. My nerves were keyed up as tight as piano strings, and in a sudden moment of stillness and silence it felt as though my heartbeat was amplified ten times over. He was over a hundred pounds greater than I, nearly a foot taller, and I knew he could move his muscled body into unbelievable sprints. Rain started falling in torrents while the storm raged outside. I was not afraid of the storms of nature; it was the storm inside this night that I knew I might not survive.
Anticipation was so great that I wanted to scream at him to get it over with, and true to my expectation he lunged for me, and my body did not disappoint me, I flew down the stairs two at a time in my bare feet. He stalled for mere seconds to enjoy his pronouncement of a death sentence upon me:
“I AM GOING TO KILL YOU—YOU GOOD FOR NOTHING BITCH—STONE DEAD!”He screamed like a crazed animal.
The date was February 13, of the year 1987, the night that I disappeared into a February rainstorm with five children and no place to go. I was twenty-nine years old.