As if it Didn't Happen
by Maggie Claire, 2009. ISBN 978-0-557-15501-9.
Reviewed by Donna Van Straten Remmert
Posted on 03/04/2010

Nonfiction: Memoir

Can you imagine the terror a child must feel when locked into a box for an entire day without food or drink? Can you imagine the pain a child must feel when beat with the buckle end of a belt? This was punishment for this author as a child, for not behaving like a "good girl" for her Uncle Ken when he and his friends wanted to use her body to have sex and make pornographic films. They sedated her with drugs so her child's body would relax through the pain of penetration. They also threatened to kill her brothers if she told or if she made them mad by not cooperating.

A member of SCN, under the pseudonym of Maggie Claire, has written about how she survived these horrendously evil crimes by developing Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). This excerpt describes how "inside people" helped her endure the hundreds of incidents that began at age three and lasted until age twelve:

"After a while, I learn to drift away even before things happen. Karen is always watching from the ceiling. When I am up with her, I separate myself from my body and from what is happening, and I don't feel anything. I can see Cathy or Catherine there on the table instead of me, and the sex things are happening to them. I can see other abuses from the ceiling where I float with Karen."

There were many more "inside people" and each one had a specific role to play when traumatized as a child and again years later, when remembering and in therapy. A chapter is devoted to each one, describing what that character did to help the child survive the physical and psychological pain by "disappearing" up to the ceiling or elsewhere. The author describes coping mechanisms such as cutting oneself so badly that it erased the memory and feelings that were coming up.

These stories were told under the tutelage of compassionate therapists. Diary entries and e-mails to them are intermingled with the author's child-like drawings and descriptions of how she communicated with her "inside people" as a child. I think As If It Didn't Happen is a must-read, to help us understand the disorder, to heighten our awareness of the crime of childhood sexual abuse, and to assure that we do our part toward preventing it and punishing the perpetrators.

This book, in the end, is a moving account of how a strong, courageous and heroic person can recover and go on to lead a life that sets an example and helps others. The author worked for eleven years at a psychiatric hospital as a registered nurse, helping patients deal with their traumatic experiences. Now that she has retired from nursing, her goals include speaking and educating groups of people about surviving child abuse and saving homeless and abused animals. She is a loving mother to six adult children and four grandchildren. She also makes soft, cuddly blankets for newborns, sewing into each one her love and good wishes for the child's protection from harm.

The author employed her "inside people" to help her write this moving story of coping with multiple personalities. She is a registered nurse, a mother and a grandmother.

(See another review of this book, here)

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