Feeling the Pain

Letters published August 25, 2004

Feeling the Pain
Time to tune out FMS:
Your article on False Memory Syndrome ["The Lost Years," August 4] was well-informed and did a fine job of representing the life of FMS families. It is an emotional subject for me, as my sister accused my father of abuse way back in '87. Our story follows the pattern established by that hateful book, The Courage to Heal. I would like to thank you for providing the public a look at what life is like for us. I keep hoping that, through continuing media coverage, enough of the population will reach agreement that all this is bull, that the victims of the recovered-memory movement will come to their senses and recant. Your attention to this topic is greatly appreciated.

Thomas Rooney
Des Plains, Illinois

Don't forget the real victims: Yes, there are people who make false accusations about sexual abuse. Unfortunately, this number is dwarfed when compared with the number of people who never step forward with their (true) tales of sexual abuse. And what of the people -- too often children -- who step forward and find that they are not believed?

I was 12 years old and living in Chardon when a friend read my diary during a sleepover and learned an ugly secret about my then-stepfather, who was molesting me and on eight occasions had raped me. Though I swore my friend to secrecy, the next day she told her mother, who alerted the authorities. I was devastated, because I knew my family would be torn apart. I felt guilty and alone. I found the constant meetings with the prosecution team humiliating and uncomfortable. Even worse was the trial itself, at which the jury, after hearing my testimony for two days and reviewing a written confession, still managed to come back with a verdict of not guilty. I felt ashamed and blamed myself.

The only good thing that came of the trial was an end to the abuse. For years I refused to cooperate in therapy because I believed I wasn't damaged, and I thought I had better things to do than sit around with strangers and discuss uncomfortable things. As I got older, the toll the abuse had taken became unavoidable, and one year ago -- almost 15 years after the trial -- I finally went to therapy.

My therapist recommended that I get The Courage to Heal workbook. Working through this book, doing the writing exercises, putting together a support network, and facing my past has brought me the first genuine relief and sincere happiness I can remember. For the first time in my life, I feel fortunate for who I am, for what I have, and for not having become as sick as the person who did those unimaginable things to me.

While I respect your right to report on the issue of false accusers, I do hope you will find it equally compelling to balance this story with one about true abusers, true abuse, and true victims. If victims do not hear the stories of survivors, how will victims ever be convinced that they too can survive?

Abigail Al-Doory
Somerville, Massachusetts

Naming Names
The upstanding citizens' brigade responds:
The "gun nuts" you refer to ["Locked and Loaded," First Punch, August 4] are of an average age of 48. They are tradesmen, realtors, teachers, housewives, accountants and the like. Further, they have no record of felonies or mental hospitalizations, a requirement for a concealed-carry permit.

I still fail to see the purpose of the list [published by The Plain Dealer], except to harass or discriminate against permit holders. A local policeman I spoke to about this said the following: "These people are confusing law-abiding citizens with criminals." Couldn't have said it better myself.

Dave Leeds
Cleveland Heights

Point Missed
Ridiculous Romeo failed to impress:
The July 28 review, "Love, Death, Etc." by Christine Howey, presented inaccurate and unsound arguments. Howey missed the point of John DiAntonio's portrayal of Romeo. He brought humor to an overdone stereotype. He made you want to roll your eyes at Romeo's ridiculous infatuations. Romeo is a kid who at one moment loves one woman and then, at the mere sight of another female, abandons his first love for the latter. John DiAntonio played off this notion and made Romeo seem like the character he is -- an overdramatic teenager.

Howey didn't even make a solid argument. After spelling out all the flaws in this Cleveland Shakespeare Festival production, she went on to conclude: "All in all, this is a pleasant if not stirring Romeo and Juliet . . ." But she gave the readers no reason to think this. By concluding with that paragraph, Howey completely deconstructed any arguments or valid points she may have made.

Casey Hanner
Newark, Delaware

In the August 18 First Punch, a news brief about a gambling fund-raiser incorrectly referred to the Northeast Shores Development Corporation as the East Shore Development Corporation. In addition, the item stated that the corporation didn't qualify as a charitable organization under state law. Northeast Shores Development Corporation is a charitable organization, though it is not eligible to hold a monte carlo fund-raiser, according to Ohio Revised Code. We regret the error.