Book: Stepping out of the Circle - An account of a Childhood by A.K. Harriscategories: Book, Abuse, Child Abuse, Neglect, Poverty, Social Justice, Homelessness, Child Homelessness, Cult Families, Cults, Religious Abuse, Survivors, Autobiography
A.K. Harrisabout this book: This autobiographical account uses an unusual technique to tell an almost impossibly bizarre childhood story in a way that allowed the author to be emotionally detached and objective as she told the story in short sessions which enabled her to leave the story and carry out normal daily life in between. The creation of the book was a therapeutic and healing process and allowed the author to finally view her past with more understanding and less trauma.
The book took 10 days to produce. The title relates to the method used for bringing the memories to paper objectively and without traumatic impact on daily life. The cover depicts a child trustingly holding an adult's hand, a reminder of how innocent children should naturally trust the adults around them to keep them safe and well, and how in the author's story and too many others, this trust is failed. It is hoped that many readers will read this book and realise how lucky they are in their families and tell them so, while fellow survivors may be able to feel less on their own in their experience. And the author encourages all readers to write about their lives, even just for their benefit and the benefit of anyone with whom they share their stories.
It took the author years between her childhood and the creation of this book, to be able to tell her story in a way that others would understand, both the upbringing that she had and the impact of it on her adult life and ability to relate to people.
The story tells of a very unusual family in the UK in the 80s and 90s, a family of fifteen children by two biological parents who stayed together despite relentless challenges and severe poverty.
Even the book cannot fully encompass the strangeness of what happened. Two parents with suspected mental health and autism spectrum disorders, who were probably never fully diagnosed and certainly never helped, by the health and social care systems, especially as they refused intervention and kept the family moving on from place to place. 15 home schooled children who were taught that school, social services, doctors and medical services were bad and dangerous as was most of the world. And yet the children bore the brunt of the worst things in the world, abuse and neglect, violence and danger.
Living in unsafe and uninhabitable squats, homeless hostels, houses on dangerous sink estates and the worst ghettos. The children, including the author, had nowhere safe and stable to turn for help. On top of the completely unstable life within and without, the parents extreme religious beliefs which bordered on delusional, affected the children's outlook on life, the world and people, significantly.
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