I have read your book

I have read your book and it has been such a gift of healing for me.

I felt such a deep connection with the pain of your experiences and felt tremendous sadness for you that I was then able to experience towards myself.

As a health professional I have felt tremendous shame in not being able to heal myself and was unable to acknowledge the depths of my dissociation.

Your capacity to articulate your experience of this has helped me to understand its complexity and function and have increased my compassion for myself in my ongoing journey towards healing.

I resonated with your words that “every survivor has been granted the gift of life, not once, or twice but over and over again. It’s a gift that deserves to be celebrated.” I so hope that I really come to really know this.

Your life is such a testimony of HOPE. I hope that I can have the same courage that you have had – for me, my husband and children.

Your story has been such a gift that is precious beyond words, Cathy.

Thanks for sharing your story with me

A great insight into trauma and recovery.  I think it would provide a lot of hope to others as well as be a good guide (or some might say bible!) to those who may be close to someone who has experienced childhood trauma. It reminded me so strongly of the honesty that Anne Deveson brought to
her book about her son (Tell me I am here) that really touched me as a young adult. Therefore I got inspired! Now I am reading Anne’s book again almost 15
years later.

 

You have a gift for writing and I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your story with me.

 

 

Sage Telford

 

book review – professional

BOOK REVIEW -MONFRIES 144  

Australian Journal of Educational & Developmental Psychology. Vol 10, 2010, p 144. Book Review
Innocence revisited: A tale in parts

Dr Cathy Kezelman

1

JoJo Publishing, Victoria Australia

2

Reviewed by Melissa Monfries

3 La Trobe University

There is an emerging genre of autobiographical memoirs about the experience of abuse.

Kezelman is blessed with a literary style that reveals the gruesome details of her abuse in the manner of a psychological thriller – except her tale is real. The themes of the different abuses unfold through the different voices of the dissociative personalities that Kezelman has adopted to escape her reality. It is the death of her beloved niece that appears to have triggered an acknowledgement that Kezelman had effectively obliterated her childhood memories from her current reality. Gradually, Kezelman was forced to confront the harsh realities of her developmental history and through a long and painful process in psychotherapy gradually came to understand the extent of her family’s collusion in the denial of its horrific history.

While this memoir is beautifully written, it is not easy reading because its content is so palpably sinister. It is also relentless in its telling. There are no light moments to be had; understandable given the extent of the abuse. While the focus stays with the trauma inflicted on Kezelman and her extraordinary way of dealing with it, the reader can’t help but wonder how her current family coped with this debilitating and long process. Her husband and her therapist appear to have provided the unconditional nurturing and support that Kezelman’s childhood did not. Notwithstanding Kezelman’s resilience, these people also continue to assist in her recovery.

I think this book shows how particular disorders can emerge as a response to aversive circumstances. Its best audience would be therapists who want to learn more about the complexities of mental disorders rather than a general population who may find its impact hard to shake. I would have liked more about how Kezelman survived the years before her niece’s death because she indicates she was able to lead a successful existence as a GP and a mother of four. I would have appreciated a few lighter moments so that I could process the intensity of her experiences, but perhaps this absence is indicative of her family’s denial. It was too hard and too shameful to process the extent of her abuse.

Innocence Revisited is one of the more complex books addressing this distressing subject. It is complex because the extent of the pathology in this family unit is at the severe end of the mental disorder spectrum. The author’s resultant dissociation and depression can be viewed as a coping response to serious, ongoing abuse from allegedly responsible adults who should have provided unconditional love and protection but who did not. This memoir reminds me a little of Kate Grenville’s novel about abuse,

Dark Places. It unfolds in a similar manner but it is told as a tale of black humour, though the message is equally disturbing. 1

Email: ckezelman@asca.org.au

2

Publisher’s e-mail: jo-media@bigpond.net.au

3

School of Public Health Faculty of Health Sciences La Trobe University

Email: m.monfries@latrobe.edu.au

ISSN 1446-5442 Website: www.newcastle.edu.au/journal/ajedp

Dr Melissa Monfries /

A ‘review’ of Innocence Revisited, written by a close friend

This review was written by my friend Susi, written under a headlamp in the jungles of Peru…

INNOCENCE REVISITED : A TALE IN PARTS.

This is a shocking story of cowardly and pathological cruelty, of the betrayal and deviate abuse of a defenceless and trusting child , perpetrated by the very adults charged with her care and well being. And yet is an inspirational message of hope and recovery, and of the capacity of the human spirit to survive and ultimately blossom despite it all.

The victim, Dr. Cathy Kezelman, grew to adulthood with no idea whatsoever of the systematic torture she had endured. She studied medicine, became a successful GP with a busy practice, married and was busy raising four wonderful children when, out of the blue, a beloved niece died in a car accident.  The senseless loss produced a severe emotional shock which rattled loose the locks on Kezelman’s Pandora’s box; beginning the release of the horrendous memories locked away by her childhood mind in an attempt to obliterate them and, literally, save her precious young life.

With courageous, clinical precision, Kezelman takes the  reader through the devastating process of memory retrieval, the reliving of horror after horror over a period of eleven years as earlier and earlier memories surfaced.  The earlier the memory, the deeper it lay buried, and the slower and more agonising the process of prying it out of its hiding place in the distant recesses of her mind.

While Kezelman never flinches in her description of the depravities forced upon her in suburban Sydney and Brisbane in the 1950s and 60s, not once does she apportion blame or give any hint of the rage and disbelief which overwhelm the reader at every turn.  She explains clearly the different ‘PARTS’ into which her young mind learned to divide itself, time after time, in order to separate from the inconceivable agony of the terrified ‘Little Cathy’. ‘Sensible’, ‘Long Suffering’ and others all took their turns in splitting off and saving – even, and especially, ‘Growly’, who was ‘bad and smelly’ and did ‘bad things’.  It is the acceptance and integration of all these split parts of herself, which eventually lead to the beginning of the healing process for ‘older Cathy’, the adult.

This process makes fascinating, if harrowing, reading.  From the opening sequence at the Gap, when Kezelman almost ends her life, to the times when she regresses so far into her childhood she can no longer walk without assistance, through night after sweat-soaked night re-living the pain and terror of her abuse, witnessed by her appalled husband . . . for eleven long years she endured, and wrote, and somehow kept on living . . .

The idea of ‘parts’ resonated throughout the book.  The title, ‘A Tale in Parts’, the split parts of her personality, and on to  the final chapter, ‘Parting Comments’,  a testimony to optimism, survival and hope.

I met Cathy as she was undergoing the process of memory recovery and we started a writers’ group, meeting monthly with another friend. The content of the work she would read to us gave us only an inkling of the real truth – how she managed to get to our meetings, let alone give generous and cheerful advice on our offerings, I’ll never know.  The book she has finally produced is a tribute to her resilience and determination, an education and a revelation for all who read it.

Cathy often referred to her immediate family as, at times, the sole reason she had to continue living. On the advice of her counsellor, she always carried photos of her children with her – and indeed they saved her life on at least one occasion.  She referred to them as ‘her finest achievement’.  Not only did they need her . . . she also needed them. For parents of adult children, this is quite a revelation and well worth consideration – as the sands of life shift, the balance changes . . .

Thank you, Cathy Kezelman, for revealing your deepest and darkest secrets.  May your recovery be complete, as your ‘Tale in Parts’ continues, yes, to shock, but also to inform, advise and comfort all who read it.

Susi Prescott

Your story has been an inspiration to me

I received the following feedback from a “36 year old of two beautiful young girls” She included aspects of her own story with her letter. I have ommitted those but am happy to share her testimony with you. I am very glad that my story has inspired her.

“I’ve just finished reading your book; “Innocence Revisited”.  Firstly, I want to express my admiration for your courage, for your incredible persistence and for your commitment to resolving your trauma and healing your life for your own benefit as well as for the benefit of your children and your husband…..

Thank you for the gift of sharing your story. It must have taken momentous courage to actually write your story and then to publish it.

 Many thanks again for your courage.  Your story has been an inspiration to me and has helped to give me some perspective on my own experiences.  You have renewed my inspiration and given me new hope that I can also attain some stability and long lasting inner peace.”

Child sex abuse victims. Why don’t we believe them? Radio Australia editorial

Child sex abuse victims. Why don’t we believe them? (by Phil Kafcaloudes)

5 May 2010

Today I interviewed a woman who was one of the lucky people to have survived being sexually abused as a child.

So severe was the abuse she endured from the age of 6 until 14 or so, that the entire decade of her childhood was blocked out of her adult memory. The whole thing just wasn’t there. She went on to become a respected doctor, a mother, a person who contributed to society, but for much of this time Cathy Kezelman had no memory of much of her childhood. There were snatches, sure, but she didn’t think back to Kindy or First Class or Year Five like many of the rest of us.

She couldn’t. It was wiped.

How? It was pretty simple. Cathy, as a medical practitioner, can see how. She says children have an amazing resilience, and can cope with just about anything. At a price.

When her father started sexually abusing her, her child’s mind reacted in a way that allowed her to keep going. It fooled her into thinking that this can’t be a bad thing.

Her father though, was not so resilient. He killed himself, perhaps out of guilt for what he was doing to his daughter, perhaps because he was a flawed personality. Cathy doesn’t think it was the latter. She says that he was very loving, and would snuggle up with her, non-sexually, as a father should, and do all the things that father must do, like reassure, love and care. Most of the time.

More horrifically, after her father passed on, Cathy’s sexual abuse continued, carried out by other people who were in positions of power over her. And finally, some years later, a trusted family doctor sexually assaulted her, again and again.

Where was her mother in all this? According to Cathy, her mother denied that this was happening. When Cathy told her mother that the doctor had started touching her inappropriately, her mother said something like: “Oh that’s just him, just tell him not to be silly”. This is a sentence that speaks volumes, for a mother who suspected the truth, and was too fearful to stand up for her daughter.

You see Cathy’s mum was a victim herself, a victim of the Holocaust. Her parents were murdered by the Nazis, and Cathy says it is easy to see now that the damage caused to her mother as a young woman came down the line. Her mother sheltered herself from the bad by denying it, just as her daughter did for thirty years.

Cathy’s father too had a traumatic childhood. He was a sexual abuse victim.

It is called patterning, and it happens with some victims of abuse, where they will do the same to young people in their care. I remember as a court reporter, hearing psychiatrists tell judges that a convicted sexual abuser was a victim themself. I even remember hearing one abuser, a scout master, say in his defence that it happened to him as a child and it did him no harm; it was a way of being loved. The judge wore none of it, explaining to this 50-something year old man that sexual abuse has nothing to do with love. It is about being a predator. The pattern may have been set, but it was up to him to break that pattern.

No-one could suggest that patterning happens in even a majority of cases. There must be thousands of abused people living good lives, the abuse a secret that in many cases will never be revealed, locked in their minds by feeling of guilt or fear of not being believed or fear of the damage it would do to their fathers or uncles. Others, like Cathy, have dealt with it and lives with the memory.

But there are many who don’t come through it. Recent statistics show that victims of childhood sexual abuse are eighteen times more likely to commit suicide, and are 49 times more likely to die of a drug overdose.

Cathy, mother, doctor, almost went this way too. Once her memory of the years of abuse returned to her (after counselling), she found herself standing at a cliff edge, going closer to the precipice, saved only by a voice that told her to speak to her counsellor. The talk pulled her back to this world, and into a life where she was determined to share her story, if only to let other victims learn that they are not alone.

Sexual abuse is part of every society. It is one of those things that just keeps on, like corruption, thievery and tax avoidance. The difference is that this one kills.

And there is far too much denying, perhaps from the victims, and certainly from the people who should believe them.

Love, warmth and support

Thank you for wrting Innocence Revisited – a tale in parts. I read your book in one sitting, not wanting to leave you in your struggle for one minute. I wanted to reach out to you with an outpouring of love and acknowledgment of your life.

Not knowing how to do this effectively I humbly wrote these words in the hope that they could add to your strength and resolve to allow the healing force within you to thrive. A force that allows you to discover love and support intenrally, externally and eternally.

Thank you for your survival, courage and determination,. whilst I can’t begin to comprehend the depths of your suffering I recognise the importance of us moving beyond our hell. Hopefully with this telling of your story, Cathy more of us can emulate you and be a positive force in this world.

I honour you, your integrated self

With love R.

COURAGE UNDER FIRE!!!

Dear Cathy,
I finished your book on Monday morning, I couldn’t put it down. Such COURAGE UNDER FIRE!!! Tears were streaming down my face in the final pages at your triumph. I had lots of questions on the Sunday because I hadn’t finished the book but these were gradually answered. No one should have to endure what you endured, it’s a credit to you and growly that you all pulled through, he’s the best, doing his absolute most to help you survive and survive you did. You were blessed with Kate, she came through as a very courageous therapist, professional and also your trusted friend.   I read somewhere that at your book launch your children spoke and Dan and that they had the audience in tears, it is a blessing that your family is still together and stronger than ever. Cathy you are an absolute legend in my book, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your involvement in ASCA, it is the most wonderful organisation and it has given me so so so much strength. You are doing good things, you are helping so many people, this book is going global girl look out !! 🙂 love Frances x

Standing ovation

I was most touched by the following feedback from a fellow survivor called Jamie. Jamie entitled the email “Standing ovation”

“I finished your book last night. I feel like I know you as a sister. It captivated every spare minute of my time and I am so happy for reading it. My wife is going to start reading it now too because it has put into words what I have not yet managed to do. It has helped me so much I can’t describe how proud I feel for you as a fellow survivor.”