My memoir, Frozen Children, was written from the heart. The topic it deals with– childhood sexual abuse – is not an easy one. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Unfortunately, it is something that can happen to any child, from any family. Conservatively, one in ten children will be sexually abused before they turn 18 (some studies show 1 in 4 girls will be abused before turning 18). 60% of those victims never tell anyone. 90% know their abuser. It is a topic that needs to be discussed openly. A topic about which we all need to educate ourselves and our children.
The book is not just about abuse, it is about the aftereffects – like low self-esteem, self-hatred, shame, inability to trust, addictions to drugs, alcohol, or food, to name just a few. Female abuse victims are more than three times as likely to develop psychiatric disorders as those that have not been abused. We are twice as likely to suffer from depression and twice as likely to make a suicide attempt. I have dealt with many of these issues and in my memoir detail the effects childhood abuse had on me.
But most of all, this is a book of hope and healing. Sexual abuse does not have to be a life sentence. When the issues are addressed, along with effort and help, and a lot of courage, abuse victims can not only survive, but as a wise woman assured me years ago, they can thrive.
I acknowledge that memories are not infallible, and some of my depictions may be flawed, but I have written them as I remember. I have no “proof” that many of the events took place. All I have are my memories and twenty-five years of pain and healing. If I did not believe them to be true, I would not have written Frozen Children.
In many ways my life would be easier if I didn’t publish this book. Family relations would roll along smoothly as we all continued to portray the image of the great American family. The last year and a half since presenting this book to my family has been an emotional struggle. I have dealt with accusations, objections, and strained relationships.
Or, maybe life wouldn’t have been easier had I chosen not to write my memoirs. Involuntary silence and living with secrets is not comfortable. Writing the book was therapeutic and released me from my past in many ways. I believe that making my memoir public will add to that healing and freedom. To me, the candor is worth the cost. I’m certain that nothing I said in the book will change the attitudes or beliefs of some family members, but speaking out and proclaiming the truth has changed me.
A Memoir of Remembering, Forgiving, Letting Go, and Living
Everyone has a story to tell, but some stories are hidden beneath the covers of self-protection. “Frozen Children” is a story of strength, of hope and of healing. Ultimately, it is the story of the gentle awakening of one woman’s beautiful inner child. Be prepared to be deeply moved.
Diane G, Executive Director
Every family has a story. And every family has a story-behind-the-story. Shelley Johnson’s “Frozen Children” does a great job of telling both stories. The book weaves a charming tale of growing up in the average American middle-class family, always looking good on the outside. And it also skillfully reveals the deep, dark, ‘don’t tell’ secrets of that family in the narrative as well. A story that needs to be told, by a woman who has lived it. Thank you, my courageous sister!
Nancy D, Retired
“Frozen Children” is an intimate and powerful journey of awakening that takes the reader through a portal of deep discovery, pain, and healing. This very honest and transparent story is a journey to truth containing realizations that are both personal and familial, down to earth, and esoteric. Shelley Johnson’s story is delivered in a conversational, yet powerfully insightful, way and contains many tools for those ready to emancipate themselves from the darkness of abuse.
Richard B, Spiritual Leader
A compelling story of getting past the pain, the maze of a troubled life, and the heartfelt journey that opened new doors.
Vikki Y, Writer and Illustrator
“Shock, denial, disbelief, rationalization, and finally acceptance, then more denial, doubt, and not wanting to believe. These were just a few of the stages I went through […].”
“We each have our own way of dealing with abuse and painful issues. For some, the abuse or pain strengthens them and pushes them to overcome […]. Others, like me, internalize it, hide it, and hope to keep it safely stowed away in some deep, dark part of ourselves.”
“When I’m down on myself, I often must remind myself of how the universe feels about me, about every one of us. We are loved unconditionally. Always. No matter what.”
This is book is based on my childhood memories, resurfaced memories, journals and notes, as well as conversations with friends and family. Some names have been changed for privacy reasons. Memory is not infallible, and some descriptions may be flawed but have been written as I remember. All I have is memories and no “proof” that many of the events took place. I recognize and acknowledge that some members of my family do not have the same memories or beliefs about my childhood that I do. I believe everything written to be true and have published this book in the hope of aiding my own healing as well as that of others that may read it. This is a book of healing and hope. It is not intended to bring hurt or embarrassment to anyone.