Bringing incest into the light
Author Cha'Von Clarke tackled incest in her latest novel 'Onyx Rekindling: The Bermy Chick Chronicles'.René Hill in the hopes that others would come forward.The Royal Gazette, Joan was homeless and unemployed and had lost her three children to foster care.
As her book was being published an incest victim walked into her office willing to speak to the abuse that was inflicted on her as a child.
The 29-year-old woman who we shall refer to as Joan shared her story with Lifestyle reporter
One of Joan's earliest memories is of an incestuous encounter with her godfather.
He started molesting her at the age of five. Her brother began molesting her around the same time. Others also abused her in the years that followed, until she was about 18.
At the time of her interview with
Her six-year-old daughter had also been molested; Joan had failed at several suicide attempts and she was addicted to sex.
"My first memory [of incest] was when I was five," she said. "It was my godfather, who is also my first cousin. But he wasn't the only one. There was also my brother on my mother's side, my sister's godfather, my sister's dad and another gentleman who was a friend of my mom."
She was 11 when her mother's friend picked her up from school and forced her to give him oral sex.
Joan was sexually abused on an almost daily basis for 13 years.
She described scenes that were much too graphic for publication.
"I wouldn't talk to my mom about it. I couldn't talk to my dad because he and I had a strained relationship," she said.
"I felt that if I said anything to anyone in my family it would be my fault."
Those memories continue to haunt her. She described a scene from a birthday party when she was 11 years old.
"Everyone was outside playing and I went in and sat on the couch.
"[A man] came in and he put his hand under my dress.
"I started crying and he told me that if I didn't stop he would tell my mama that I was being a bad girl, and that if I ever did say anything he would kill me and kill my mom."
She recently saw a photo that was taken that day, remembered the dress and all that had happened. She broke down in tears before ripping the photo to shreds.
As she got older, she turned herself off to the abuse that was happening it was the only means of protection she knew.
"I had put a wall up all around myself,"
Eventually she sought help.
"I went to a teacher who took me home and then called the police. She was the saviour of my life."
The case was investigated but was closed due to a lack of evidence against her godfather.
She now classes herself as a nymphomaniac, or hypersexual.
"My body has to be touched by a man. I have to have some type of attention and my mind prefers that it is of a sexual nature.
"I hate it, I absolutely hate it."
Joan is attracted to much older men and has had many sexual partners.
Asked whether she feels cheap, she said: "To be honest, it's hard for me to explain."
Although she cares for her current beau, it's difficult for him to understand her.
"I am trying to explain that if your body and your mind has been trained for years to do something, you cannot just turn it off."
Counselling was an integral part of her life, especially after attempting suicide.
When she woke up after one failed attempt, she said: "I felt like I was cheated, because I was ready to walk away from life and get away from everything."
On another occasion Joan purchased razors to , but discovered that she was pregnant with her daughter a child she was sure her brother's baby. A paternity test later revealed that someone else was the father.
Four years ago she had to confront abuse again.
"When I was trying to get my life together and was out studying, [a man] was molesting my child.
"I did not see the signs and to this day it still drives me crazy that I couldn't put a stop to it. I feel like I failed her."
Because of all her pain and the horror of her daughter being molested, she is angry and has shut herself off emotionally.
"I refuse to cry anymore, because I have cried enough over the years. Crying gets you nowhere."
Meeting the author Ms Clarke was a pivotal point in her life.
"Cha'Von said everyone says [abuse] doesn't happen here. They think it is something that should be swept under the carpet and kept quiet.
"But I would not mind stepping into a school to tell my story to help stem the tide of abuse."
'Onyx Rekindling' 'The Bermy Chicks Chronicles' is on sale at Book Mart and the Bermuda Book Store.