The author of this book has been through a long series of humiliations, shocks, defeats, and rebirths. From her earliest years, she was a target for abusive attacks by older children and later by men. Victimized repeatedly, she kept trying to find a way out, but by her own admission, most of her choices were poor ones. She was a good mother and cared her children, finding in their innocent love a way to fill the void that constantly gnawed at her. Having lost her own mother at an early age, she never felt a sense of being truly valued and sought a way to self-acceptance through the distorted emotional filter of tormented dysfunctional sexual relationships.
Reading I Promise Not to Tell is like stepping inside a woman’s private confessional, and her private hell. The reader wants to shout, “How can you be so naïve, so stupid?” When a relationship has all the markers for violence, why do women, so many of them, believe that they can miraculously transform a potential batterer, an avowed homosexual, an addict or an alcoholic? Why do they so often assume that they are to blame, assume that it is they who need to try harder? Yet such scenarios are distressingly typical.
In the case of Brenda Weber, she settled for men who called her vile names, who beat her to quell their private rage. For years she remained with a man who lied to her, neglected her needs, insulted her, even wore her clothing. Her description of that relationship is in essence a description of most abusive partnerships: “I believed Gregory loved me in his own disillusioned way, but he was incapable of giving and receiving love. He felt anger, resentment, jealousy and hatred toward me, and I became a threat and reminder of everything he could never be.” She states that “Appearance wise we were a normal healthy family, but no-one knew the monster I lived with." Again and again she finds the strength – or the weakness? – to forgive this “monster,” at times taking her solace in the church and its restriction against divorce.
The bubble bursts when she learns that one of her sons, himself molested by an uncle, has become a molester.
There is agony, defiance, regret and a hint of redemption in Weber’s book. The reader would like more than a hint. How did the author find the courage to survive, to be able to say, “I am no longer a victim?” Was it through spirituality, or counseling? Was it by writing this book that she clarified her own understandings and came through to a stronger self-image?
The woman on the book’s back cover appears pleasant, with a clear straightforward visage. How did she get from her four-year old tormented and abused self to this calm adult self- portrait? In her book we are shown the rocks on the path, not the path itself or the map to rescue. One wishes to know more, and looks for a sequel.