Sunday, November 15, 2009

Our Little Secret by Duncan Fairhurst

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (March 8, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0340932686
ISBN-13: 978-0340932681

This was a challenging book to read: both confronting and explicit. It is an autobiographical account of the sexual abuse the author suffered at the hands of his father and how it affected his life growing up and becoming a man. It concludes in 2005 with his father finally being given a prison sentence.

Writing this account was obviously a major catharsis for the author. Duncan goes into great detail about the ambivalence he felt for his father: hating the abuse, but loving his father. For much of his youth, the author did not even realise that it was abuse and not something loving fathers did with their sons. It is a gripping story. It felt good to witness Duncan "growing up", learning about himself and finally reaching a point where he understood that he was actually abused and felt ready to seek justice.

I wonder what his mother and sister thought about the book? Duncan's writing shows compassion for them in hindsight, but also a deep reservoir of animosity. He did not feel loved by his mother or sister, and details many spiteful moments he had with them. Every unkindness at the hands of his mother and sister exacerbated the suffering he felt from his father, because it drove him closer to his father; the only one who seemed understand and love him.

In this book, Duncan is defined by the misery of his past. As much as he is a survivor, he explains his every anguish and self pitying moment in terms of the abuse he lived through. He is a victim still in pain, trying to become a better person.

In his book, Duncan is very critical of the police officers who handled his case. Essentially he wrote that they were inattentive and did not show enough care towards the case, the victims and his family. The police officers sued Duncan and the publishers for libel and won an apology and an undisclosed amount of money.

Read about Duncan's disappointment with the police that handled his case in the Guardian article: Unfinished business.

Read about how Duncan was forced to apologise to the police he criticised when the same officers brought a libel case against Duncan and the publishers: Sex abuse victim's apology to police on (Duncan is from Lincolnshire).

See this book (and my review) on