Rachel Thompson

INSIDE/OUTSIDE (The Library) @JennyHayworth1 #Memoir #SexualAbuse #NonFiction

The breathing is what I remember noticing first. Heavy, rapid, and sharp intakes of breath increasing in volume as whoever it was came closer. It struck me as odd in the library setting I was in, sitting at a computer. I looked up from processing my Internet banking and hesitated.
Then I heard a female voice speaking rapidly and heard fear and panic intermingled in her words. “Someone tried to abduct her. He had her by the arm and on the ground.” The voice rose in volume. I stood up as the breathing became louder and laced with sobs, and a stab of pain went through my chest and caught there within a block of fear as I recognised the sobs were coming from my eleven-year-old daughter, Rose. She suddenly materialised, walking out from an aisle to the right of me, with a lady alongside her, holding on to her.
Everything then erupted.
Rose, the instant she saw me, became hysterical, screaming out, “Mum, Mum.” She took great gulps of breath, and the only clear words I could hear as she forced them out of her lungs, which were constricted by a lack of oxygen and panic as she hyperventilated and collapsed on the ground in front of me, were, “Man….He was touching me, Mum….I couldn’t get away.” I was holding on to one side of her, with the lady I didn’t know on the other side, trying to pull her up.
“Mum, my legs don’t work,” Rose said. She was heavy in my arms. A chair appeared in front of us by the information desk, and we half dragged and half carried Rose the last few feet to sit on it. I stood up and kept my hand on her shoulder.
People were moving around, appearing in front of me and disappearing. I could hear voices around me, but wasn’t aware of their meaning. It must have been only a couple seconds, but it felt like minutes until a lady tapped me on my shoulder. She had two policemen by her side. Suddenly all the sounds and voices became louder and clearer to me, and I was conscious of all the people looking at us. I felt like we had to get away.
“Please, can we move somewhere more private?” I asked, and this time all the held-back emotion came through me and sounded in my voice. I nodded to the doorway I thought led to the sorting room.
“Yes,” said the lady.
I remembered my handbag with everything in it next to the computer about ten feet away. I said, “I just have to get my bag,” and I ran back and grabbed it.
I was conscious of about four other people at each side of me and behind me, staring at their screens and typing. As much as I was grateful that they didn’t meet my eyes or speak to me, as I wanted to rush as quickly as I could, I was also silently asking myself, What are they thinking? Why aren’t they talking to me? Do they blame me? And the huge question, What happened? I could feel my face burning and my heart pounding as I turned and ran back to Rose.
We walked through the door into the back room, and I felt the relief of not being on public view. I could feel that Rose was starting to shake all over. I wanted to pull her onto my knee and hold her and ask her what had happened, but I didn’t.
We sat down at someone’s desk, and papers and items were moved from in front of us. I put my bag on the floor, under the legs of the chair, and suddenly a librarian appeared and said, “Sorry, but we need to ask you these questions quickly so we can try to catch him. What was he wearing? What did he look like?”
Rose said, “His hands were dirty and felt rough on my legs.” She started crying. “He was kissing me all over and on my neck, and I kept telling him to stop, and he wouldn’t.”
The minute she said his hands were rough, I went cold all through me. When I had been assaulted as a child, one of the main things I remembered at the time was how sharp his fingernails had felt and how dirty his hands had been.
It was all swirling around in my head, emotions from past and present. My own emotions and awareness of them and my awareness of my daughter’s emotions and how I needed to keep mine in check for her. The heaviness and weight in my chest tightened, and my head felt light and dizzy.
Someone called out that a librarian had chased him, and they had the registration number of his car. I immediately felt so relieved and grateful for whoever had done this, as I knew it could make a big difference in catching him. Two other women came over with the police and sat down next to us. One of them was about seventeen years old and was crying. They introduced themselves as Julia and Candice, and the older lady said, “Candice saw what happened. She called out to me, and when I came around the corner the man started pulling on Rose’s arm and trying to drag her with him. Then he dropped her and ran out the door.”
Then one of the police said, “We need to speak to Rose on her own and take a statement.” The librarian showed them the kitchen next to us, and they went in there with Rose. It didn’t feel right letting her go in with them on her own, but when she hesitated and looked nervous, one said to her, “It’s all right. Your Mum is right next door, and you can go back to her as soon as we have finished speaking with you.” I gave Rose a quick kiss and hug, and she went with them through the door.
When the door shut, and I was left with Candice and Julia, I asked them, “What did you see happen?”
Candice said, “I came around the corner and looked up, and I saw Rose crouching on the floor with her arms over her head. The man was leaning over her, and she was saying, ‘Leave me alone, leave me alone.’ I first of all thought he was her Dad, the way he had hold of her, but something didn’t feel right or look right about it. He said to me, ‘What are you looking at?’ and I looked away, but Rose was crying. I just called out, ‘Mum’ as she was in the next aisle. Mum came around the corner, and I started to cry and point. The man was dragging Rose by the arm toward the door. He looked up and saw my Mum, and both of us called out, ‘Hey,’ and he dropped Rose’s arm and started to run out the door. A librarian heard us both call out and saw the man run and Rose on the ground, and she chased him out the door.”
I thanked Candice and her Mum repeatedly for what they had done and for helping Rose. I said to Candice that if she hadn’t come around the corner when she did and taken notice of her gut feeling that something wasn’t right, who knew what might have happened.
When Rose at last came out of the staff kitchen after having given her statement to the police, I was so relieved to see her again. She seemed calmer. She sat next to me and smiled, and laid her head on my shoulder.
Candice said, “Are you all right, love?”
Rose said yes and smiled at them and me.
She told me he kept kissing her neck and face, and his hands were all over her breasts and legs and up her skirt. He kept saying something under his breath like, “So beautiful, so beautiful….” Then she started crying again. I felt like crying, but nothing would happen.
I just held on to her. I felt sick and upset and angry and in shock. I couldn’t believe this had happened to my girl, and even more, going through my head was the question, “Why Rose?” Why, out of all the people in the library, did he have to pick on Rose?
She was the only one out of my three eldest children who had not been sexually abused, and now she had. It seemed unbelievable, especially as it was ten o’clock in the morning, and we were in a public place. We had to keep waiting in the library until police took all the statements from everybody concerned. Rose had to walk the police through the library and show them exactly where everything had happened. They took her books, which the man had held on to, for fingerprinting reasons, and that upset Rose again as she had been looking forward to reading the ones she had chosen. The police surveyed the closed-circuit television camera footage and identified the man walking directly behind Rose and me as we had entered the library, and following her as she went to the young-adult section.
We both were hungry, and the police let us walk over to the shopping centre, which was five minutes away, to buy something to eat and come straight back. Once we were in the mall, I noticed Rose’s head moving around, looking everywhere, and she clung to my hand tightly.
“What happens if we see him, Mum?” she whispered to me with tears running down her face.
I held her hand tightly and said, “He can’t hurt you anymore. I am here, and he would run a mile if he saw you now, as he would know he is in trouble.”
When we were standing in line, people were walking past behind her and bumping into her. She kept grabbing me; she was terrified. I was so upset and angry that this man, a stranger, had in one instant taken away her sense of safety in the world. Her ability to stand in a public place and feel safe and not worry about whether someone would grab her or touch her inappropriately had disappeared.
After we walked back to the library, we had to go down to the police beat for Rose to describe the man to a sketch artist, who would do a “wanted” poster from it. After we had done that, we were allowed to go home. By that time it was nearly three in the afternoon. We had been at the library since ten that morning. Both of us were exhausted. I had rung Rose’s Dad and arranged for him to go pick Thomas from school, and to let him know what had happened. It was a boiling-hot day. We had parked just down the road from the library, and as we got back into the car to start it, I couldn’t help but think how much had changed from when we had parked it there that morning.
Then the car wouldn’t start.
I turned the key in the ignition for half an hour. Both of us sat in the car with sweat pouring down our faces and backs as the sun poured in the windows and I tried to start it. I felt like bursting into tears. I wanted a cold drink, and I knew Rose did too, but I had no money left to buy one. I desperately wanted friends and family around for support.
Eventually the car started, and we drove home.

***Award winning book (finalist) in 2014 Beverley Hills International Book Awards***
Jenny Hayworth grew up within the construct of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which she describes as a fundamentalist cult-like religion. She devoted her life to it for over thirty years. Then she left it. The church “unfellowshipped” her-rendering her dead to those family and friends still committed to the church.Hayworth is a sexual abuse survivor. The trauma changed her self-perception, emotional development, trust, and every interaction with the world.
Inside/Outside is her exploration of sexual abuse, religious fundamentalism, and recovery. Her childhood circumstances and tragedies forced her to live “inside.” This memoir chronicles her journey from experiencing comfort and emotional satisfaction only within her fantasy world to developing the ability to feel and express real life emotion on the “outside.”
It is a story that begins with tragic multigenerational abuse, within an oppressive society, and ends with hope and rebirth into a life where she experiences real connections and satisfaction with the outside world.
Those who have ever felt trapped by trauma or circumstances will find Inside/Outside a dramatic reassurance that they are not alone in the world, and they have the ability to have a fulfilling life, both inside and out.
Foreward Clarion Review – “What keeps the pages of Hayworth’s life story turning is her honesty, tenacity, and sheer will to survive through an astounding number of setbacks. Inside/Outside proves the resilience of the human spirit and shows that the cycle of abuse can indeed be broken”
Kirkus Review – “A harrowing memoir of one woman’s struggle to cope with sexual abuse and depression while living in – and eventually leaving – the Jehovah’s Witnesses”
Readers Favourite 5 Star Review – “The book is an inspiring story for those who are going through traumatic times…”
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Jenny Hayworth on Facebook & Twitter

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