Friday, July 17, 2009

Finding Angela Shelton

Finding Angela Shelton: The True Story of One Woman's Triumph Over Sexual Abuse

by Angela Shelton

Finding Angela Shelton is a quasi-memoir written documenting the making of the documentary Searching for Angela Shelton. The idea behind the documentary was that she would travel around the country to survey women in America by meeting those that share her name, Angela Shelton (I had originally wanted to see the documentary but had a hard time getting my hands on it, so I read the book instead; now I'm more determined than ever to find the documentary). She thought it would be a fun and quirky documentary, however the film soon took another path as she learned that over 70% of the Angela Sheltons she talked to had been sexually or physically abused/assaulted in their lifetimes. A victim of childhood sexual abuse herself, Angela is mired in flashbacks. When she learns that one of the Angela Sheltons tracks sexual predators for a living and lives in the same town as her molester - her father - she knows that she needs to confrot him. When a broken bone has not been treated, it must be rebroken and set in order for it to heal properly. Similarly, Angela must delve into her personal history of sexual abuse and confront her abuser in order to heal both herself and others.

This book really hit me in the gut. While the author's childhood sexual abuse was both similar to and different from mine, many of her feelings and thoughts on her trauma reflected mine. As I sit here, I still cannot say what happened to me and am blushing with embarrassment whenever I write about the subject. But her message is that silence only allows abuse to continue shrouded in a shame that should be felt by the perpetrators but is all to often only felt by the victims. It is a call to action for people to open their eyes to the abuse that is epidemic in our society, for victim/survivors to shout and scream and make ourselves known, because what has been seen cannot be unseen and only when we force people to believe yes we ARE HERE yes we DO EXIST and we are NUMEROUS, will real change occur. Until then, the abusers will have the power through denial, blame and shame.

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