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Degrees of Exploitation

by
August 2004, no. 263

A Tuesday Thing by Kate Shayler

Random House, $22.95 pb, 509 pp

Book 2 Cover Small (400 x 600)

God's Callgirl by Carla van Raay

HarperCollins, $29.95 pb, 441 pp

Degrees of Exploitation

by
August 2004, no. 263

Accounts of past child abuse and the inability or unwillingness of those in positions of authority to confront its reality are amongst the hottest of topics in today’s media. Generally, the story is about the perpetrators and their punishments, or about the impact of disclosures on church leaders forced to retire because of their negligent or political mishandling of cases brought to their attention. But what about the victims? Rules of privacy generally mean that we never learn at firsthand what it must be like to live with the knowledge of a childhood tainted by sexual abuse on the part of some adult with authority. Still less are we likely to know what that knowledge must be like when the abuser was also a much-loved family relation, such as, or especially, a father. For that reason, memoirs such as these are valuable in that they initiate the reader into the long-lasting effects of abuse with graphic emotional immediacy.

Both these accounts are finally ‘triumphal’, leaving the reader when the narrator has come to terms of a sort with her childhood trauma. But the journey for the reader can be long, grim and tiring. Tedious is not the right word, given the intense testimonial nature of these narratives, but the tortuous windings and frequent frustrations of both narrators as they search for a stable self make claims on the reader’s stamina. In the case of the latter sections of God’s Callgirl, these are large claims.

Joy Hooton reviews 'A Tuesday Thing' by Kate Shayler and 'God's Callgirl' by Carla van Raay

A Tuesday Thing

by Kate Shayler

Random House, $22.95 pb, 509 pp

Book 2 Cover Small (400 x 600)

God's Callgirl

by Carla van Raay

HarperCollins, $29.95 pb, 441 pp

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