September 23, 2002
The silent women
by Deborah Stone
Domestic violence is the number one risk to adult women. Three out of every five women in the U.S. will be beaten at some point in their lives. Battering crosses all boundaries, including age, race, socioeconomic status, mental or physical ability, sexual orientation and religious background.
In the past several years, over 2 million women reported being physically abused. This is a known fact. What is not known is the number of silent women, women who don't report these incidents for fear of reprisal.
It is for those women in particular that Bothell author/illustrator Carol Young wrote "The Gorilla and the Fairy," a book to help abuse victims find the hope of becoming whole again. Young's story is presented in a beautifully illustrated, fairytale format that shares the feelings and emotions of a young, willing victim's psychological captivity and her transformation and ultimate escape through assistance from her "angels."
Simple language describes how the victim is subtly manipulated within a controlling relationship which eventually leads to dependency, confusion and a feeling of helplessness. As a past domestic abuse survivor herself, Young felt compelled to share her experience as a way to reach other women in similar situations.
She says, "I was a single parent for many years and then I met a man who I thought was my prince. Once we were married, however, the abuse began. He was an incredible actor and a con. He isolated me from my family and took complete control over my life. Each time the abuse occurred, I thought maybe it would be just this one time and then it would stop. Then I started to think things were my fault and I was to blame for all that went wrong. I had a poor self image and felt totally degraded. I lost perspective on my own values."
For seven long months, Young endured the abuse until finally she called a domestic abuse hotline and sought help through an Eastside domestic abuse support group. With counseling and the assistance of others who cared, including her family and friends who finally learned of her nightmare, she was able to escape from her abusive marriage.
"What was an eye-opener to me," comments Young, "is that when I went to the support group, I was amazed to discover that abuse affects every level of class. There were women like me there, women who if you met in the street, you'd never think were being abused."
Young wrote her feelings down and then burned the papers, hoping to work through a cathartic process, but she still couldn't put things behind her completely. She then decided to write a story as a method to help her move on with her life and heal her inner scars.
"My granddaughter, who was 10 at the time," says Young, "read the story and told me to make it into a book. She was my impetus to go ahead with this project because I wanted to be a good example for her and show her that I follow through on things I believe in."
Young took writing classes to assist her with the actual writing process and used her extensive art background in creating the illustrations. She says, "I wanted to be a famous artist when I was younger and took college classes in the field. I did my own art for awhile, but it became difficult to continue once I had my children."
While single-handedly raising her two kids, Young obtained an internship at a community college print shop through a government grant for single parents and learned illustration. She worked for Boeing as a technical illustrator and then finally settled at a local printing pre-press specialty shop where she's built a 20 year career as a color Mac operator.
Young sought out Hara Publishing to assist her in self-publishing her book, as she wanted to be totally involved in the process from start to finish and make all the decisions. She comments, "I am happy I did it this way and I'm delighted with the results, but more importantly, I'm so happy to hear that the book is reaching others. I hear from readers who tell me that the book made them feel that they're not alone out there and that this has helped to empower them to make a change. There was one woman who told me that she bought the book for her mother so she could finally understand how hard it is to get away from an abusive relationship."
Best-selling true-crime author Ann Rule read Young's book and called it "brilliant." She wrote, "The Gorilla and the Fairy" is one of the most important books I've ever read! In what seems to be a little fairytale, a powerful warning hides, along with an enlightenment that will save thousands of girls from becoming domestic violence victims! It should be required reading for every female as she turns 14 or 15. How many women have tried to tame a wild beast with love? Too many and too many tears and pain followed."
Young's greatest hope for her book is that it helps others understand the signs of abuse and the pattern that can develop. She believes this knowledge can prevent further women from entering into abusive relationships. "I also want to use the money I earn from the book sales to help support women's shelters," adds Young. "The need for more shelters and services is great in this country. What's so totally out of proportion is that there are three times more animal shelters than battered women's shelters in the U.S. Clearly, there's something wrong here."
Young hopes to keep writing in the future and has a few project ideas in mind, including some stories about her own children that would make a good series of light-hearted books for kids.
The public can meet Carol Young at an up-coming book signing on Oct. 12 from 1-3 pm at the Woodinville Barnes & Noble Bookstore.