Work in Progress

pan am clipper bestWORK IN PROGRESS:   Runaway Child, a memoir

Runaway Child, set in post-World-War II England and the United States, describes the personal route taken by Mary-Rose Hayes to counter, and eventually set aside, the long term emotional damage of six years of childhood sexual abuse.

It is told in linear fashion from Hayes’ steadily maturing viewpoint (4 years old to the present), interspersed with brief speculative commentaries from Hayes and other voices including that of the abuser.

The language is frank and humorous though at times grimly graphic.

Runaway Child has a wide potential readership, not limited to a previous generation, when a vocabulary for such outrages didn’t even exist. Sexual predation of the young has never gone away, and its victims, young and old, continue mostly to suffer alone in shamed silence. Here, Hayes suggests that, if it could happen to me it could happen to anyone; and, I found a way through the darkness and what worked for me might work for you too.

Runaway Child falls into three main sections, with an Introduction.

Chapters are relatively short with informal headings:

I thought I was the only one.

What’s the big deal, it’s only sex!

She should have known or at least have wondered.

SECTION ONE: What happened:

A personal history as an only child of appallingly mis-matched parents, multiple cross-country moves, new schools, alcoholism and intensifying abuse, culminating in a euphoric runaway/escape to the United States at age 17.

 SECTION TWO: What happened next:

Freedom, safety and professional success tempered by the classic high risk behavior of the oversexualized child (at 19 Hayes lived above a prostitute in a tenement in the East Village and knew all the right people to go wrong with).

Marriage; recognition of problems and unsuccessful attempts to address them, including encounter groups and writing as therapy {“writing is turning one’s worst moments into money” J.P. Donleavy (The Gingerbread Man)}

SECTION THREE: Getting serious:

Acknowledgement of damage done, and addressing the basic question of WHY;

the examination of the times and times of Hayes’ destructive parents, which included a major depression and two world wars; Hayes’ workshop teaching writing skills to women combat veterans struggling with psychic and sexual trauma; Hayes’ deepened awareness of PTSD and how it related to her own family; her personal, unexpected epiphany, and her various conclusions.

Runaway Child is planned for completion in Fall 2016.


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