Key Themes: autobiography, poetry, mental health, relationships, family
This book takes you into the centre of my childhood and shows you how everything is not always what is seems. To the outside world we were a ‘normal’ family and that is just how my mother liked it to appear. But behind the closed front door was drinking, abuse, addiction, violence and for a time a man who posed as a family friend in order to gain access to the boys. I take you from my childhood, through my teens and on the very rocky journey of my healing from the past. I share with you my innermost thoughts during some of the most difficult times of my life so far. This book gives you an insight into a victim of child abuse working her way through to becoming a survivor. Along the journey I too fell into relationships where domestic violence was common place and I share with you my experiences and what made me finally walk away. This book is about survival, it is about how you can go to rock bottom and come back up again. How you can feel that your life is finished and then find a whole new purpose and energy for living. In my previous book ‘This Tangled Web’ I shared my poetry written in the years after my abuse…here we have the untangling of that web and the story behind the poetry.
About the Author
Kate Swift was born into a family of 5 other siblings in the spring of 1977. Kate’s early years were not a great introduction into family life and the world around her. Her father worked hard and drank even harder, coming home to sleep off the alcohol. For Kate as a child of 3-4-5 he was a loud and scary person who ranted and raved. Kate found solace by hiding under the table until the shouting was done. Kate was a mummy’s girl, she adored and idolised her mother. Whilst her father was someone she felt never particularly wanted her. Kate enjoyed school and thrived on the love of her mother.
Life was never quiet with 5 other siblings around and the ups and downs of every day living. When Kate was in her 8th Year she was just like any other child… enjoying school, playing with her dolls, drawing pictures, making mud pies…just being a child until the day her life would change forever. The day her older brother placed his hand somewhere she had never been touched before. It was the school summer holidays…a bright sunny day and they were watching cartoons on television. That was the beginning of the end of her childhood and what followed was a further 8 years of being sexually abused. Kate would be woken up in the middle of the night by him climbing into her bed. In her sleepy state she would be told what was expected of her…not always with words in fact often with silent physical prompting. Always when he got what he wanted from her, he would turn and walk away never looking back or speaking. Kate was left with her soft toys for comfort. It won’t surprise you to know she suffered nightmares and was so afraid of the dark. Night times held a ritual for Kate; before she would go upstairs to bed she would send her dad up. What did she want him to check for? I guess her parents thought they were checking for ‘monsters’ under the bed. Her curtains had to be shut tight-no gaps, the light had to be on, the windows locked. Kate was trying to feel safe in a world where the danger was inside the house and silent.
The sexual abuse was everything from touching to rape. Kate never knew when next he would come to abuse her. She would listen out for the floor board that creaked in a certain spot on the landing. No time of the day or night was off bounds to him depending on the availability of his victim and the right opportunity. Life continued as normally as was possible for Kate in between these times. Looking back their were signs that adults could have picked up on but for whatever reasons missed. When Kate was 15 years old the ordered chaos in her mind descended into complete terror and panic. Here she was…a student at senior school…who thought she was expecting her brother’s baby. The torment was too much and after several weeks of silent hell, Kate told. The secret that she had carried since she was 8 years old was written on a piece of paper and handed to her English teacher. Until then Kate had no idea what the words ‘sexual abuse’ was, she did not know about ‘child protection and ‘social services’. The following morning she knew what all those phrases and people were about. Her Head Teacher sent her to the local baby clinic in her school uniform for a pregnancy test. The mothers with their babies, the women with their judging looks…a silly school girl who made a mistake. Kate’s fear was thankfully wrong and she was not expecting her brothers child. Kate was placed on the child protection register and her mother chose for her to go into foster care. After 6 months living in foster care Kate was allowed to return home…only for her brother to attempt to abuse her again less than one month into her return. Kate remained at home and her abuser left. The title of this book is the very essence of childhood sexual abuse…it is a tangled web. During the untangling of the web for Kate she learnt that her brother had been sexually assaulted by a family ‘friend’. In the years since Kate has been on a journey to survive what happened to her. To make sense of it, to heal the pain, to ease the nightmares and to rid herself of shame.
Why tell my story?
In recent months since the release of my first book ‘This Tangled Web’, many survivors have asked me if my first book is my story; in a sense it is, through the form of poetry. The more people asked me the more I came to realise to my surprise that people actually wanted to hear and to read my own story. My closest friend Sophie has said many times about me writing a more autobiographical account of my life but I always used to laugh it off. It never occurred to me that I would have anything that interesting to say in this format. But I decided to sit down at the computer one day and just see if I could actually tell my story in this very direct and personal way. The first few lines came to me and I had them buzzing around inside me head for a few days. I felt the need to write them down and so it went from there and became the book you have in your hands today.
People need to be aware of the good that our system does and, equally so, its failings. They need to hear the survivor’s voice, how they think and feel about how they are treated by the system. We cannot effect change if we are not made aware of what is happening within our social services departments, our hospitals and all the other public sectors working with people who have been abused. When I built my website (www.thistangledweb.co.uk) in February 2010 I was anxious to hear about a change within the way survivors are treated. Sometimes our public sector does a fantastic job but other times it falls down, and when it falls down a person – a child – is on the receiving end of those failures. In this book you will hear both good and bad.
The events detailed in this book are as I remember them to be. They are recorded as accurately as my memory will serve me. Some of the names, however, are fictional names.
I remember my own thirst for other people’s stories and for information on childhood abuse when I first told of what had happened to me. I needed something to relate to, something to let me know that what I was feeling was ‘normal’, but most of all I needed someone to give me some hope when I was fresh out of my own. The books I read were a very important part of my early attempts to make some sense of, and begin to recover from, what had happened to me as a child. I have tried to carry this with me as I have written my own story, trying not to hold back and trying to be as honest as I possibly can be. That is what I believe will be most helpful to other survivors who read my story. If this book can play a part in another survivor’s recovery then I feel like writing this book will have been more than worthwhile.
Please note that whilst I have made many references to what has helped me on my own healing journey through this wilderness, I am not a trained professional and these are simply my own tried and tested ways of what has helped me through. I would always recommend that you seek professional help and advice alongside anything you read. Further sources of help and information are listed towards the end of this book. One thing I have learnt for certain is that as survivors we are no longer alone and there are some excellent organisations/charities and individuals working to build a bridge from being a victim to a survivor.
Just finished `Nobody`s Rag Doll` by Kate Swift.For me it was definitely one of those `can`t put it down` reading experiences!As a book written by a survivor for, in the main, survivors, it will, I`m sure, become a `must ` on any recommended book list.Being myself a survivor, the book had huge resonance for me and has been yet another great help on my own healing journey.It contains no self-pity or negativity, just tells it like it was and is and is very well and simply written, which makes it`s impact the greater, I feel.I was swept along and so happy for Kate to reach a good point in her life which must encourage other survivors to reach out for help in the knowledge that there is light at the end of the tunnel. (Ann Beard ~ NAPAC)
Kate I am in the middle of your beautifully written life story. And the only thing I can say is I can’t believe how similar our stories are. The family dynamic or lack thereof down to the abuser. It has brought back so many memories for me that I hadn’t paid attention to….particularly what I was feeling at that point in time. It’s so amazing to read your story. Extremely heart wrenching as I can literally feel your pain screaming at me. I just wanted to share with you that I am thankful to you for writing your story and not harbouring it like we have been taught to do. ♥ you!! Sarah W
You wrote it very well. You express the events well without bitterness and the impact it has left without it sounding like a misery memoir. It is very inspirational to other survivors on their own personal journey. Xxx C.B
Nobody’s Rag Doll by Kate Swift… Do not be fooled by the picture on the front; the girl on the bike is a Happy Soul – this book demonstrates how that happiness can be shattered by Childhood Sexual Abuse.
The author takes you through her life’s journey, from Happy to Rock Bottom, and then from Rock Bottom to Survival.
You may think ‘Why should I read this it will only upsets me’. Do not think like that this is indeed a harrowing tale, but ultimately it is full of hope. Kate has survived and now you can read her story and admire the courage and strength that she has shown to overcome what is still a crime that so often goes unpunished. M.G
I have finally read this story after making sure I was strong enough to take any triggers. This is a truly inspiring read with hope and belief that one can survive & thrive despite turmoil and a chaotic upbringing. It is wrote in a way, almost as if you were sitting talking to the writer, therefore making it easy to understand and ar…ticulate from one surviors mind to another’s own mind. Being a survivor of Sexual Abuse from my Grandfather, this read captured ones feelings of isolation, despair, solitude & confinement in a nut shell. A must must read for anyone thinking the world ends after abuse, because it sure as hell doesn’t. Inspiring and honest and an insight to what one can go on to achieve. Thank you for sharing your story. Natasha Hough
Highly recommend this book to anyone trying to get to grips with surviving childhood sexual abuse. This is one woman’s journey that offers great insight into every survivors emotional landscape. Well worth a read. (review on Amazon)