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by Meg Clairmonte and Aurora Mackey
HCI, 2001
Review by Susan Wingate on Oct 22nd 2001

Ultimate Judgement

This is an intense story of incest and sexual abuse. This is a true story of a woman that spent most of her life being victimized on a daily basis by people in her life that were suppose to protect her. It's a story of systematically altering the belief system of a child and teaching her to deny her reality, only to accept the one given to her by her abusers, the church, friends and ultimately herself. This is a story of courage. Breaking the chains of silence, Clairmonte begins the healing journey to find reasons to hope, dream and live in a world where the innocent can and will be heard.

It is a very intense story from page one. It is a fast pace story and will "hook" the reader to get to the conclusion. In order to understand how the conclusion is arrived at, the reader must read the entire book. To skip any part of this story is to minimize and discount the storyteller and the reader's experience.

Innocence is a precious birthright and when it is lost, it is everyone's responsibility to help in the healing process. I applaud Mackey for her ability to write in such a way to create a "bridge" in that healing process. Through her talent as a writer, she became the voice for Clairmonte in a very powerful way.

Seeking justice, armed only with her "truth", Clairmonte takes on tremendous odds to not only be heard but also hoping against hope to be believed. Her courageous efforts are demonstrated over and over again throughout the book. The image that came to mind as I continued to read this story, was that of a rag doll being clutched in the jaws of a bulldog. This bulldog relinquished his hold when he became too tired and weak to hold on to his "prey". Only at that point did he drop the doll. Torn, tattered and shredded, Clairmonte's steps to reclaim her dignity are born.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone seeking to understand some of the perverse dynamics of sexual abuse. Keep in mind that the mind of a child is very vulnerable and impressionable to anyone that is perceived to be in a "place of power" over them. The beliefs created by this "powerful person(s)" can only be reinforced when the person suppose to be in the role of "protector" participates in the abuse. This book would be an excellent addition to the libraries of mental health and medical professionals.

I would caution anyone struggling with his or her own issues of sexual abuse to seek guidance from a therapist or support system before or while reading this book. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is very common among sexual abuse survivors. The graphic details of the abuse sustained by Clairmonte can be a potential trigger if the readers find themselves reading "their story" through Clairmonte's experiences. On the same note, to read this story and find the "glimmer of hope" all survivors look for to end their nightmare, this book could be that "light in the dark".

Personal note to Authors:

My heartfelt thanks for the gift of this story. Thank you Ms. Mackey for being the vehicle in which this story has been told.

Ms. Clairmonte, the courage born of your fear is amazing. You are a very brave woman and it is my belief that bravery is born of the heart. Your heart must be HUGE! Thank you for sharing your story in a way that lends courage for those still struggling.


Susan Wingate

© 2001 Susan Wingate

Susan Wingate is currently working in personnel management at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She has worked for twelve years as a chemical dependency counselor for adolescents, as well as having worked with survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Her passion is to be a vehicle for creating awareness for self and others.