My mother was sexually abused as a young girl, long before people knew the life-long damage it causes or that there are ways to heal the wounds–the worst of which are not what happens physically but what is done to the identity, the emotions, the brain of the victim, particularly if the person is not believed, not understood, not heard.

I did not know this about my mother until I was in my sixties although I had sensed all my life that something bad must have happened to her when she was little because she was always sick, unable to really love, self-mutilated in the form of excessive plastic surgery, felt evil and worthless, hated her body, was promiscuous and eventually committed suicide when she was forty-two.

While writing my memoirs, “My Life So Far,” I was able to obtain my mother’s medical records from the institution where she killed herself. Among the documents was a typewritten, single-spaced autobiography she must have been asked to write upon admission.

Prior to this, in the mid-90s, I had been drawn to study the effects of sexual violence on girls and boys because I had started a nonprofit in Georgia (where I lived at the time) that addressed issues of sexuality among disadvantaged teenagers and discovered that many, if not most, of the girls we worked with had been sexually violated. I sometimes feel that I was called to do this work because, unconsciously, I knew that the shadow of sexual violation had cast a shadow over my own family. As a result (and unlike other members of my family), I was prepared to understand what I was reading in my mother’s report. Piecing together what she wrote and what her doctors reported, I unearthed what lay at the root of her 4-decade-long suffering. I could put the puzzle together and belatedly mourn my mother, forgive her and myself (because children–victims and their children– always think it must have been their fault, that they just weren’t good enough, must have somehow asked for it).

Twenty years later she could have found the help she needed in the specific form of therapy that arose out of The Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970s. It was thanks to this movement, that sexual violence was finally seen as being not about sex but about power and control. This relational/cognitive therapy approaches the traumatized person with empathy and great care, creates trust and ensures safety, then takes them back through the experience, reconstructing the trauma in detail including the emotions and sensations, then mourning the loss of the old self that the trauma destroyed and finally helps her (or him) to integrate the experiences into a new, fully developed life narrative. This sounds more linear than it is, but in the last forty-some years, this approach to trauma, both sexual trauma and combat trauma, has been proven successful at allowing the traumatized person to move from victim to functioning survivor. I sometimes cry when I think of how my mother could have been saved.

Listen to this: It is generally agreed that only 16% of rapes are reported. In 1992 The National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center issued a study that estimated the “true number of rapes in the United States each year is likely to be in the range of 639,500. At that rate over a twenty-year period, there would be more than 12 million American women rape survivors.” Let that sink in for a moment. Try to go beyond the stats and think that each number represents a girl or boy whose entire life and identity was ripped apart. shredded.

It was thanks to the efforts of veterans of the Vietnam War and their refusal to be silent, that a diagnosis of the effects of combat trauma was finally established–post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Prior to this, soldiers who were traumatized were shamed, dismissed and deemed “moral invalids.” Dr Judith Herman, in her brilliant, breakthrough book, “Trauma and Recovery,” writes that it became “clear that the psychological syndrome seen in survivors of rape, domestic battery, and incest was essentially the same as the syndrome seen in survivors of war.” And not until the “women’s liberation movement of the 1970s was it recognized that the most common post-traumatic disorders are those not of men in war but of women in civilian life.”

I am writing this blog now because yesterday I met Gail Abarbanel, the founder of The Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica and the Stuart House next door which treats child victims. This deeply empathic woman took me through the buildings, explaining the process from initial intake to the final therapeutic sessions. Please visit their website. They are templates of how sexual trauma victims should be treated–start to finish. I wish I could wave a wand and replicate these centers everywhere across the country. As I left, Gail gave me a book, “After Silence: Rape & My Journey Back,” by Nancy Venable Raine. I read it last night. I urge everyone who has been a victim of sexual trauma to read this book as well as anyone who knows someone who has been a victim. One key thing to understand is that you must always believe someone when they say they’ve been sexually abused. Always believe children who tell. It is so very difficult to tell. The victim feels they are to blame, especially children who are developmentally unable to blame the adult abuser. And NEVER say to a victim, “It’s time to put this behind you. Just get on with it.” Ms Raine makes poignantly clear that this misunderstanding of the nature of trauma can be as painful as the trauma itself. It can never be “put behind you.” It can be confronted and managed and one can, with the right treatment ‘get on with it.’ But it is a long, brave process.

I’m also writing this blog now because I have become friends with a remarkable woman, Dr. Ann Beeder, Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College and psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Ann’s primary work is with veterans suffering from PTSD and, like the centers I visited in Santa Monica, she and her colleagues have developed cutting edge, beautifully empathic treatments which I am learning about.

I want to tell anyone reading this blog who is a victim of trauma, including veterans of combat, that to seek treatment is the brave thing to do. As Dr Judith Herman says, accepting help is an act of profound courage. It shows strength not weakness, initiative, not passivity. “Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims.”

I wish my mother could have told and been believed.

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  1. Dear Ms. Fonda,
    I saw you recently at a memorial service for my very dear friend Beth Galanty’s father, Sid. I have always been struck by your talent, life force and quite frankly astounding physical beauty. Truth be told after seeing you at the service I thought to myself, “How the hell does she look that good?” and decided to go online and do a little sleuthing. I had no idea you had a blog. After reading several of your blog entries it is quite clear that you are just a seriously beautiful human being inside and out. How amazing it is that you put yourself out here and share yourself with others and are so committed to being a contribution and making a difference. I have been very blessed to not have experienced the kind of horror your mother and many others have been through and reading all the responses to your blog has opened my heart and made me want to at the very least contribute to the organizations that you have mentioned. Thank you so much for being a stand for people and making us a sense of community whereby we can love and support each other. You are a gift. Thank you.

  2. I hope you read my book. Even after all of this. I feel kind of like an idiot.

  3. Hi Jane
    I read all posts !… my god !I’m moved because some posts resonate with me !
    As you, I learned,there 7 years ago, what happened when I was 5 years. (I’m 63 years)
    Now,I understand better a comportment of my mother with me.
    I had a therapy during 8 years, but I can’t talk my family. We don’t believe me, and it’s the problem with a situation.
    We will never forget this and we must move, we feel in harmony with ourselves
    Your post it’s very moved, and you are an exceptional person.
    I’m always proud when people say I look like you, and that, since I was a teenager.
    I will try to find your book. What’s the title your book in France ?
    Sorry if I don’t speak well american.
    Take care of you xxx

  4. Dear Jane: Thank you for writing this. The title of this post is beautiful. In sharing these things it is as though she has found a voice in you. xx SMT

  5. This post about your Mom touched me deeply. My Mom passed away earlier this year. She had such a sad life. She was definately a troubled soul and tried to commit suicide when I was a teenager. She never got the help she needed and never found her voice. I had to learn at a very young age to soothe myself, because my Mom couldn’t. My maternal Grandmother was a very strong, courageous woman and I could never understand why my Mom was the way she was. I believe that something must have happened to her, perhaps someday I will find out.

  6. Jane, just wondering, have you ever watched the Prince of Tides? I think that movie addresses these issues and depicts it so tenderly with Streisand in one of her most vulnerable roles.

  7. Have you ever been on the edge of what you’ve always known and something that you can’t even imagine??? That’s where I am. I have held onto, for my whole life really, to some other person, the idea of a mother; a mom. You have been that place, all tangled up with sexuality. My “counselor” feels like that place. There is no “that place”. I am sure you have better things to do than listen to me. I am sure, too, that I have no better (worse) place than where I am right now. You are a part of it, to me. I hope I ever make it, and I hope very much that I ever get to put my arms around you. Again, you are famouse; I am really nobody’s girl. I will figure it out; or die trying. I hope you live to be 120 or more; one day our paths will cross.. And maybe not even in this lifetime. You matter to me, a lot. I am as fucked up as they come, but I am okay; and I am glad of that. Everyone has their life experience; you are part of mine. I really will leave you alone now..

  8. Dear Jane:

    Your blog posts always resonate something real with me each time I read them, and this was no exception.

    I believe that worse than any perpetrator of violence or abuse is the one who is aware of it and remains silent. The silence of the observer is the most brutal form of evil there can possible be.

    Until nuns, clergy, teachers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., sacrifice their personal comfort to protect the innocents, history will continue to repeat itself.

    In my own family, silence reigns supreme. In early adulthood I learned that one of my female cousins had accused a family member of sexual abuse when she was a child in their home. She went on to become a heroin addict(oddly enough). It seems there was a trial that divided the family and no one – except for my psychologist uncle – believed her. She died an addict, ostracized by and isolated from – the family.

    I do not know the full truth of her experience, but it would seem the correlation between silence and tragedy is a strong one.

    • Dear Voice N Crowd,
      When I read your message to Jane it really moved me because I do believe that so many individuals could have been saved from some really horrible experiences if the individuals that knew something was happening had the courage to step forward and make that stand. Wow, just thinking about so much pain that could have been prevented as well as the lifelong horrific “picture” memories that would not have been created, if only, these “witnesses” could have had the courage to do what was right. Can you imagine?

      My mother caught my dad when I was 3 years old doing something perverted with children and she made the decision to keep it quiet because she was pregnant with my younger brother and didn’t know how she would survive without dad’s help (This is before my abuse with him began mind you). When I was an adult she questioned me, asking if my dad ever “did anything to me” and at that time, I was so embarrassed and so ashamed of all that he had done I told her that he had not. What a lie that was. She lived the lie, and than I lived the lie. What a terrible cycle, allowing the offender to stay “safe” while everyone else suffers. So sick. My secret has been out for quite a while now and I hope to help others through this journey of recovery (and yes, it does take a long time to recover from things like this, never 100% but a NEW and DIFFERENT 100% as I don’t believe we can ever be our original whole after such experiences).

      “…Until nuns, clergy, teachers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., sacrifice their personal comfort to protect the innocents, history will continue to repeat itself.”
      Yes, we need to start somewhere and I think empowering those that may be able to stand up and not allow it can definitely create a positive change. Thank you for your important words.

  9. I get it; I have tried, twice, to send my e-mail address. Your page will not allow that.

    So, here is my address. I really need to get off of this page. I will get lost in you; I know that of me.

    Look at the first letters, and then the ‘dragonfly’ at aol .com

    S omething L ost F orever D R G N F L Y “at” aol dot com

    Let’s see if that works.

    I love you so so much, Jane. I will get lost in you; I have been, for 32 years. You are wonderful, and thank you, for being who you are. I hope I ever get to meet you. And I hope you read….

    • Don’t get “lost” in me, Nancy. Find yourself in you. Your Real Person Spirit Mother counselor is helping I think.

    • Precious Nancy, you can find your true self in Christ. He is a real person who longs to guide you into beautiful new adventures wherein you honor God and love your fellowman. He is man’s wonderful counselor. All the blessings of the Author of life are available to man in Him. He truly is the Helper of Helpers who can heal our wounds no matter how deep they are and the beautiful truth is that His love can be experienced in your lifetime and in eternity.

      He knocks at the door of every heart. Say Yes wholeheartedly to Jesus and He will reveal to you that He is the source of wisdom, knowledge and happiness! May God who is love strengthen you body, soul and spirit, so that you desire to say a resounding Yes to Jesus!

  10. Third times a charm??? I don’t know; but I won’t try anymore after this, to send my address.

    S omething L ost F orever D R G N F L Y at starts with a y dot com

    Your page is very “secure”, as addresses go; and I’m sure that’s a good thing. It’s pissing me off right this minute!! I love you, Jane…. I hope we live long enough for our paths to cross. You are way super important to me. So much so, that I have to stop looking at your page.. and I feel kind of bad, or sad, about that. I want to just know you; and I never will.. I love you…. xoxoxoxoxoxo <— infinity

    • I read you. I am very moved. You will get a letter and your manuscript returned. xx

  11. The only trauma I have and never will go away, no matter how many “therapy”,is for the loss on my only adored son,my everythng, in New York, on October 1993! That day, my wonderfull and happy life, was finished forever.And I just didn´t do anything bad with myself, because I was a Kardecist!And by our belief, we cannot take our own life!Hope by reading this Blog, many people can get the help they need! Very sad about your mom.Who would know?How many woman in this world must have envied her just to be married to the great Henry Fonda!
    The other day, you were, again,at the pages of Daily Mail online(with the animal print pant)! They love you there.And you got more than 400 coments!Not all good,as some people still don´t like your Vietnam days..but I was there do defend you, and tell how wonderfull human being you are, and almos 100 agreed with me! Best ragards from your “friend” from Brazil.

  12. Nancy, Jane definitely is a celebrity (and so much more), but she isn’t a counselor, at least not for us. She can’t be. Who would have the time? lol!

    I am always finding that I am opening up to new levels of awareness, sometimes on a daily basis. Sometimes if I feel down or make what feels like some sort of a backslide, I feel like I’ve landed back on square one and am starting over. Life is a journey. The most important thing is to keep your chin up, always keep walking forward, and be proud of how far you’ve come in life and continue on and try to get where you want to go. Friends in your area and counseling should be there to support you at this juncture. Good luck to you. Many of us are right where you are. Keep at it and never give up!

    • Debra, I have a wonderful counselor; and I agree, Life is a journey. Jane Fonda and her page, have certainly been a part of mine… xo

  13. Many thanks to you for revealing this information. A similar thing happened to my mother in 1946, and the result was my ‘cousin’ who was adopted within the family. All her life, my mother held such a sadness behind her eyes, and she constantly struggled with depression; I think this was not only because of her sexual abuse but also because she was forced to give up her first daughter.

    I came along ten years later, after she’d married, and I could never understand why my mother didn’t seem to love me, and why she always talked about how perfect ‘cousin’ was, evidenced by my constant hearing of “Why can’t you be more like [cousin]??” Oddly enough, her words never caused me one whit of animosity toward ‘cousin’–I always loved her like a sister, even though I didn’t know she was one until decades later.

    Three years ago, when my father was on his deathbed, he finally confirmed that ‘cousin’ was, indeed, my half sister. Being an only child, this information caused me great joy as well as intense relief, because I finally knew and understood the secret my mother had carried within her heart for so many years. Of course, I have never told ‘cousin’ and never will, because it would wreck her life’s memories, and I love her too much to ever cause her needless grief. It is enough for me to know that I do have a sister, one whom I have always loved with all my heart.

    However, I fervently wish that my mother could have confided in me, could have shared her personal grief regarding the situation. It would have been so cathartic for us both, but–like your mother–she born in an age when secrecy about this type of matter was paramount to survival of reputation. How sad it is that they both had to suffer so greatly in silence.

  14. FOR CO-DEPENDENTS EVERYWHERE: (with special thanks to Jane for being the ‘beacon of light’ for all of us at times, most especially by posting this tribute to her mother.


    (Quotes: THE INVITATION by Oriah Mountain Dreamer)

    THE SADDEST OF GOODBYE’s- (Grieving not for what was, but for what might have been)
    Corinne Ona’ (Brown-Calloway) Johnson
    St. Mary’s. Georgia – December 28, 2007

    It has been a remarkably-swift, enlightening transition from the imaginative, romantic idealism of the young maiden, to the stark reality of the discerning, wise Crone.

    I thought the important people of my world had changed; t’was not they who had changed, but I. Somewhere along life’s path, I learned to love, respect, honor and be honest with myself. From that basis, I have birthed expectations of those with whom I want to share my life, where before there seemed to have been none. I had blissfully traded adherence to revered core values, for the euphoric addiction to being alive in the moment.’

    Along the way on life’s long path, I have learned the ‘subtle difference between caring deeply for someone, and chaining another’s soul to vicariously source my own happiness.’ I have learned that the powerful rewards–for the career enabler– are as addictive to the self-sacrificing approval junkie, as any drink or drug out there, and just as challenging to conquer.

    I have learned that love is a word of which few know the true meaning, until they can first say they truly love, respect, honor and admire themselves. I have learned that company doesn’t mean security, and that loneliness is universal, and eventually cracks the most valiant of I like-being-alone masks, most especially in the challenging golden years.

    I have learned that ‘kisses aren’t contracts, and presents aren’t promises,’ and that men and women both say things when they’re lustfully prone, or pried with irresponsible drink, that are forgotten or rescinded when upright, or in the sobering light of day.

    I have learned that I would rather be alone wishing I were with someone, than be with someone wishing I weren’t. I have learned to ‘accept my defeats with my head up and my eyes open, with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a wounded child.’

    I have learned to try to build my hope on what is, rather than what might be, because ‘tomorrow’s ground is uncertain and a planned future has a way of falling apart mid-flight.’ I have learned to work towards blissfully embracing short periods of judiciously wonderful, fiercely eschewing a lifetime of nothing special, yet all the while knowing that my optimism and worthiness, will lead me to my dream of living the rest of my life with an exceptionally-deserving life mate–if only I have the courage to unfalteringly hold out, and allow it to happen.

    I am now learning —once again—to ‘plant my own garden and nourish my own soul.’ I am now learning to admit that—despite the self-deceptive contrary words —I do have expectations and I do want promises—primary among them the promise of no regrets. I have learned that the only thing worse than failing in a relationship, is never opting to give it an open, honest, fearless chance to bloom, all the while recognizing that an accident, financial reversal, or serious health challenge may come too soon to keep the jackals of failure from mortally nipping the heels of success.

    And—most especially through all of this–I have learned that I really am strong, that I really do have value, and that I really can endure the most heart-wrenching of goodbye’s. I have learned that misery is optional, and that I can choose to become a better person, from the honest sharing of myself with another–win, lose or draw.

    I have learned that with every goodbye, I can choose to learn and learn and learn, and grow and grow and grow, each time becoming a more exceptionally-unique person.

    Thanks be to all who have contributed to this remarkable journey to wholeness.

  15. What an amazing story, and amazing testament to your strength and honor, both to yourself as well as your Mom. I am so sorry you lost her so young and in such tragic circumstances.

    I was recently on vacation with my family and saw your name and lovely peace sign in the cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

    As a woman in the generation just behind you, people such as you and Gloria Steinem are among my heroes of the women’s movement. Thank you a thousand times over for all you do to help women gain strength and to educate and heal those who are broken at such a young age.



  16. ‘Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls your life.’ (Ashkay Dubey)

  17. Dear Jane,
    I read “My Life So Far”…amazing! I’ve been trying to get it in German for my mother but I can’t find it. Is it published in German at all? If so, where can I order it?
    Also, would you please give me your current fan mail address?
    Thank you!

    • It was never translated into German. Who knows why. It’s in 17 other languages. send mail to P.O. Box 10927, Beverly Hills, CA 90209

  18. Hi Jane… I came upon your blog- so cool you actually help & respond w/your wealth of info & experience… and I love Corinne’s list.
    I was never a victim of incest- but have had tragedy/loss & every other condition known to man. … Blessings

  19. Ms. Fonda,

    I have followed your blog for quite some time and find your writing very interesting especially in areas about your work with women and awareness.

    I am a 20 year military vet that suffers from PTSD due to military sexual trauma / assault and also suffered from abuse in foster homes from the age of 3 up until I left at the age of 18 to join the military.

    I am now 16 years retired from the military, actively attending therapy, disabled from this however I do have the blessing of my ability to work from home and provide value in ways that serve people through my work and my volunteerism.

    I was invited to participate in the therapy you described and at the time couldn’t leave my family for that long to go through the program and I felt there were many other vets who needed it more than I did.

    I think the VA could use the help from agencies that have more experience in doing this for the general public (rape crisis action programs, criminal courts, out and in patient therapy centers etc) as the VA is heavily burdened with lack of resources, money and experience with PTSD from MST and they just don’t provide adequate treatment.

    Another issue we all hear on the news is the opinion that the military should be the only ones who can address this legally and the unwillingness to let civilian courts or agencies get involved.

    I am blessed to have employer health insurance, when I first started to seek therapy 30 years after the trauma(s) I went to the VA, it took 6 months to see a psychiatrist and another 3 months to get established with a therapist. This was all because I had not tried to commit suicide.

    The therapist and I worked well together for several years but the psychiatrist was limited on medication options (wrong medications and over medicated) and refused to see me unless I went to a clinic to get my blood pressure checked but I wouldn’t go to that clinic because that clinic was full of vets/ men that blew cat call whistles at every woman that walked in the door and I would be triggered by it. I don’t understand how they can say they provide care when they are allowing it, but that’s another battle I can’t fight or control.

    I don’t go to the VA now because there is no support that addresses my unique needs. The story is different for everyone but the affected women in the military are afraid to tell so for the most part they carry the burden sometimes for decades before it is addressed and many deny anything happened or blame themselves for eternity.

    • Dear Kathleen, you are brave for sharing. Thank you. I ache for what is happening with MST and I have heard many times about the lack of funding and appropriate resources. Do you know about or work with SWAN? xx Jane

      • Dear Jane

        No I didn’t know about SWAN until today and will research it. I’m not brave, I’m wounded and recovering day by day. I am blessed with wonderful children (all adults) and a husband with the patience of a saint. It was a long road to get where I am today but my story is one that I want to share and hopefully help others. I found that by loving myself I am able to trust others and find ways to live a life of joy and not anger or resentment and shame. I am finishing my Bachelor’s degree in February, a lifelong dream and I just turned 54 yesterday. I feel as if I am in my 2nd stage and I’m comfortable and happy. How can I help? where do I send a check and where do I go to help with action? I am looking for an outlet to spend my time when I finish school and finding the right fit is not easy. I would love to help vets but I am more interested in helping with foster girls emancipation because it is helping young women that are vulnerable – I want to work directly with those who can break this cycle.

        • I sugest, Kathleen, that you look into SWAN (Service Women’s Abuse Network is, I think, what it stands for) as well as Eve Ensler’s V-Day, a global organization to end violence ahainst women and girls. xx Jane

  20. your mother was a beautiful woman. I have a little think for her and all your family
    take care jane.

  21. Dear Jane,
    I live a block away from Craig House in Beacon. Your mother frequently comes to my mind as I pass the abandoned house. I hold a special thought for her, and all the women like her, on April 14th of each year. Frances’s story resonates with me because of my own mother’s troubled life. She never recovered after my father left her for a younger woman some forty years ago. Watching her collapse in on herself led me to become a committed feminist. I’m now raising my ten year old son to be one too. How glad I am that you have the courage to live your truth in such a public way and so inspire others to do the same. No need to reply to this. Thank you, Jane.

  22. So sorry to hear about Mom’s life. I just wish we had the magic antidote for oppression in this world.

    Awareness is the key. And education.

    So many sicknesses that many people don’t understand are sicknesses, and how they transcend into oppression.

    I’m trying not to become overwhelmed at times by my inability to save the world in a single bound, so I focus on how I make others aware, and bestowing one small act of kindness at a time as if each were a seed of truth serum that will grow in each person.

    It’s what attracted me to your website in the first place!

    At times, people think I’m a crackpot. But I’m over that now. I understand the concept of fear and how it manifests in people now, so I get it.

    Slow, steady, and persistent always wins, yes?

  23. Jane, thank you for sharing your mother’s story. It does give me hope that one day I will be sharing my story and it will help and encourage others. It is also very, very hard to have sustained abuse in secret and for it to go unacknowledged or denied when brought to the light. Very hard – you keep playing your part with your parents because you love them and they weren’t part of the abuse and because of their love and faithfulness, you’re still alive, but it is very, very hard. You can put the smile on and you can even love and laugh, but part of you – that unacknowledged part – is always dying. Were it not for the One who knows all things, who was always with me and never left me – Jesus – I would have died of a broken heart. But I wanted to recover, I wanted to not just survive but overcome, I wanted to be made new and I really wanted to know where were You, God, did You care? He did answer that question, I’ll share it here. Maybe it will help someone. The Lord – Jesus – said, “I was always with you and I never left you. I was with you at the time and I didn’t want you to see what you saw or experience what you experienced, I wanted you sitting on My lap, looking into My eyes, hidden by My robe, covered by My wing, because I was going into the sacrifice for you, I was going to die for you and for the little girl. I am not restricted by time or space. I am the same yesterday, today and forever. We can go back (spiritually) and this time you will know I was with you.” We did go back, I felt myself to be dying spiritually and going to hell, eternally separated from God, and I cried out, “Help me, O God, help me, I’m dying.” He said, “Martha, Martha, Martha, Tabitha arise” and I did arise in newness of life. I would love to say that was the end. It was not. That was 20 years ago and I’m still recovering. But I know I will be made whole and I know I will have life and that, more abundant. God is good. The pain in the heart of God over all that happened to me and all those ever sexually or satanically abused, is only surpassed by the love in His heart. He did go into the sacrifice for me. That’s what He was doing on the cross. He took all the evil in the world, all the death and all the sin that breaks our hearts upon Himself, suffered and died, so that we might be healed and live. I am thankful. This life is short and in many ways, preparation for the next. May you be blessed with every spiritual blessing coming down from above, from the Father of lights with whom there is no shadow of turning. Thank you for your openness and honesty and willingness to share, Jane. with love, Martha

  24. Ms. Fonda, I was molested starting at the age of nine. Your blog really got to me in a way I was not expecting. I thought, well, I have done 7 years of counseling, I don’t think about what happened all the time, I survived and have helped many other girls/women..
    You said that you should always believe a child when they say they have been/are being sexually abused. My mother, whom I told over and over did not believe me. It was kind of a joke to her and her husband. I became a runaway. I always went to school, it was a sanctuary for me. My mothers mom, my grandma, to this day tells me the past is the past, put it behind you. The book, especially the work book The Courage to Heal really helped. I am going to the bookstore today, to get your latest book and the ones you recommend. I am so sorry for your loss. I agree, this is something you can move past. It is always with me, and at the strangest times. Certain music, smells and even cuddling make me feel like I am suffocating. I have a beautiful 14 year old daughter, Athena. I married at 18, I will be 45 next month, and am blessed to have found a mate that is a feminist, a very caring person, who loves all of me. Thank you for your information. Sincerely, Robin

    • Thank you, Robin. I’m glad you have found some happiness.

  25. Dear Ms.Fonda,
    I want to preface my comments by saying that while growing up in the 70’s & 80’s, I heard so many negative comments about from within my conservative family. And while I too am a very conservative person, there was something about you that made me not believe all the bad press you garnered through your political activism.
    As an adult now, more than halfway through my life, I have learned a lot about people, their motivations, their insecurities and the things they do to compensate, their innate character or lack of it…and its through this study of people that I can discern now what it is about you that always made me feel that you were getting a bum rap: you have innate intelligence and compassion. It shows in your film work and it certainly rings out loud and clear in your writings (the little I have read).
    You might have had one of the worst privileged childhoods since Gloria Vanderbilt. And maybe the only privileged childhood I have read about that is worse than your’s would be Tatum O’Neil’s.
    You are so lucky, so fortunate that you were born with this type of intelligence and self-awareness that so many people lack. And its the luck of the draw – you can’t learn the characteristics that you innately have, you must be born with it. It may take time for one to figure this all out for one’s self, but that spark of introspection, set ablaze by your compassion for others is what has kept you on your life’s journey of bravery and revelation. I am so sorry that your mother was fragile and left you at such a young age – but she, I am sure, feels vindicated and forgiven by your quest to understand her and others like her.
    You must make her proud everyday. Please maintain a dialogue with her and keep on your journey.

  26. Ms. Fonda,
    I forgot to add and fan to my profile description. I want to thank you for the post about your mother. Your description of the life long term effects or symptoms is insightful, and I think, helpful given your celebrity status.
    Warmest Regards,
    Fred Celio

  27. Ms, Fonda,
    Dr. Herman is a genuine hero. Sounds like you are well read on the subject as well. I am currently using survivors of incest anonymous conference call meetings as well as Juanita Ryan’s model for healing.
    The SIA phone line is good because it provides twice dally opportunities for “meetings” aka group therapy. Unfortunately it is 12 step oriented, but the ineffectiveness of the 12 steps as a therapeutic as measured empirically can be overcome by using the “meetings” as group therapy and applying a different modality for healing. I would say I am in the beginning of the middle part of my healing journey. Between the ages of 4 and 9 I was sexually abused by all the adults in my life — my parents and my maternal grandparents. I am open about this and most of my story can be read on my blogs.
    I am sorry for the loss of your mother at such a young age.
    Warmest Regards,
    Fred Celio

  28. Hi Jane – I have a very sad story of a healthcare professional who is hired by many of the news organizations to be an “expert”. He runs a well publicized treatment center in Los Angeles. A young woman who entered his treatment center says he had sex with her while she was in treatment. I spoke to the father of the young girl but he does not want to expose her daughter to anymore “pain” by having her press charges. I tried to report the doctor but it has to be reported by the actual patient. I have personal knowledge of other unethical activities by this doctor. Many people who seek the services of a healthcare professional are abused. How do we stop “experts” and “trusted” healthcare professionals from damaging the lives of their patients? Any help or support would be greatly appreciated.

    • Alex, I shared this —what you wrote–with the founder of the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center and this is what she wrote me back. I hope it helps. Perhaps you will contact the Center–ask for Gail Abernal:

      “there is another option which is reporting to the Medical Board, sometimes we find they have had other complaints about the medical professional already…I can’t tell from reading this what is the relationship of the person writing it to the girl who was victimized…but they can call us and talk to us about their options.

      Another issue – I know you know this – often, when the family of the victim doesn’t want the victim to report, it can re-victimize her, it can feel shaming…it’s often more about the family’s issues than what is best for the victim.”

  29. Like your mother, I am a survivor…guess what the experts call “epic”… What I want to say is “Bravo!” and keep talking about your mom and don’t shut up about it either. You are giving voice to people like me who cannot. I am a mother of five children, whom I cannot share my story because it would traumatize them to know how I suffered and raised them giving of myself from that which I did not have. Remaining suicidal for years is not something I am proud of but, when I read what you have here on this blog… well a big smile upwells from my soul saying, “Thank You”.

  30. Marcia, I completely understand. I’m glad you wrote. I will not post your letter. xx Jane

    • Jane, You are the best, a class act. Thanks for understanding. much love to you.

  31. Hi Jane – Thanks for sharing this painful history of your mom with us. It takes courage. People don’t want to talk about sexual abuse of any kind b/c of the shame. I feel ignorant that I didn’t know what sexual abuse was until I got to college though I’d had many classes on HIV/sexual health in school. I mean I knew what “abuse” was in the dictionary but didn’t really know what it meant in reality…if this makes sense.

    I finally got a copy of “Being a Teen” and reading it now. Thanks for the honesty!

  32. Ms. Fonda, I like many others, always believed the negative stories about your “treason” regarding the Vietnam War. Since reading your explanation on your blog I am overcome with shame for accepting what I had heard as opposed to what actually happened. I apologize for this. I was so touched by your blog on sexual abuse. I was also abused as a child and it has clouded my life for over 50 years. At the age of 62 I am finally finding some peace with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) a psychotherapy treatment that facilitates the accessing and processing of traumatic memories. It takes the memories from the limbic system where they are stored and through bilateral stimulation such as looking from right to left or listening to binaural beats or tapping on your legs or arms, creates neural paths to the cerebral cortex where the memories can be processed logically. I suffer from complex PTSD having been sexually abused as a child, raped and beaten as an adult, surviving a head-on collision with a drunk driver and serving in Afghanistan for 26 months as a civilian aid worker. But to me the most devastating trauma was the sexual abuse by someone I loved. I developed depression and an eating disorder. Suicidal thoughts were a part of my daily life for so many years. The long lasting effects of sexual abuse have shadowed most of my life. I was skeptical at first of EMDR. It sounded too good to be true and too simplistic. After finding that the VA has found great success with treating combat PTSD with EMDR I decided to try. I was blessed to find a therapist who used EMDR to treat combat PTSD, which I suffer from my years of living and working in a war zone. We started with addressing my issues with my father who was a cold man incapable of showing love and affection. Because of this I turned to an uncle who used my need for a father figure to abuse me and rob me of my childhood innocence. In less than an hour I was able to confront this and move from hurt to anger to understanding and finally, forgiveness. It was like a weight lifted from me! Now we are working on the abuse. It is the most painful thing I have ever done and it will take a much longer time to come to terms with the abuse. And I know for sure I will never be able to forgive my uncle and I shouldn’t. What he did was unforgiveable, but what I hope to accomplish is to forgive myself for there is so much shame and guilt that the abused suffers. “Why didn’t I say no? Why didn’t I tell someone?” An abused child is emotionally stunted at that level and when as an adult we ask those questions it is the damaged child that answers. I have great hope that EMDR will take the traumas I have survived into rational thought and I can deal with them as an adult. It is scary because for over 50 years this has been my life. I can’t help but wonder what will replace these negative thoughts and images of myself, but I am hoping it will be something wonderful! This process is the most painful thing I have ever tackled and I don’t know where this journey will end, but I know one thing – it will not end with me saying “I quit.” Thank you for supporting men and women who have survived sexual abuse. I, too, wish your mom could have told someone and been believed, but as a survivor, I understand why she did not. God bless you and your family.

    • Dear Kathy, thank you for sharing some of your story. I’m very glad you have discovered EMDR. If you hadn’t said so, I would have suggested it…or an evolution of EMDR called Brainspotting which I am going to do soon for my own reasons…nothing as traumatic as yours, not at all. I’m so sorry about what you have had to endure. I do know that people have fully integrated and recovered from that depth of trauma. We are amazingly resilient IF we received the appropriate therapy. I send love and prayers to you. xx Jane

  33. Hi jane

    I came across your blog post while searching “my mother was sexually abused as a child” on google. I read this post and cried uncontrollably because my mother is suffering currently and has become distant for the past few weeks. She was abused by her stepfather as a child. She became pregnant at 15 (not by him) and since she was a minor his insurance paid for my birth. I have his last name. Like your mother, my mother display the same characteristics depressed, not knowing how to love and not wanting to live. My grandmother remained married to my grandfather and doesn’t quit acknowledge the events of abuse. I helpless and don’t know how to help my mommy. I’m sad and want her to be happy and seek help. I love my grandma too but its like she stayed with the man that abused her daughter. Mother sent me a text this morning linking a website about adults suffering from abuse. She said that’s what she is going thru and not to tell my grandma. I guess she really tried of pretending everything is ok. Jane can you please help me save my mother? Suggest steps on how to seek help? I don’t want to lose my mother to suicide. I can only imagine her pain but I know she can be saved. Shes approaching 48 this month. I’m scared and sad. I don’t live locally with her. Do you think I should move back to help her? I’m all over the place. We don’t talk much because of the fact she is emotional scorn. Any feedback would be great.

    • mother, some questions: where does she live? city and state. I’ll try to see if there is a place or specialist in sexual trauma nearby. Does she have health insurance. With the right therapy and perhaps medication, she can heal.

  34. Dear Ms Fonda,

    I have been in awe of the way you have extended your interest into understanding and educating others in the abuse of young women, I think you are a true inspiration. I have recently read your books and now realise I need help. I am still being abused physically and sexually abused by my stepfather, but it really is my fault because I have let it go on for so long, I should have been bright enough to put a stop to it but I don’t have the strength; so that is my question, how do I tell him to stop so I have the time to get away? And how do I find the strength?

    Thank you for your time,


    • Rosie, what would happen if you reported him to the authorities? Can you amass proof so that when he denies, you can get him? Is there a rape treatment center near you? Or a women’s shelter? That might be a good place to go and discuss this. Most important, don’t blame yourself. You are NOT TO BLAME. No matter what. xx

      • My goodness I hope this girl is ok… Rosie – where are you located? I work for an abuse charity and have just read your post and I am of course concerned about your situation. Jane is right, it is not your fault and it is important that this situation is resolved in some way as your safety is very important.

        • Please help me it’s getting worse. I live in England please help.

          • Rosie call this number 0808 2000 247 it’s a 24 hour helpline in the UK for a charity called Refuge. They can help you get out of this situation. I urge you to call them as soon as you can because, as you have already explained, the abuse will only get worse over time. I will pray for you and hope you can let us know how you are. Please make the step to get away from this man, and as I said before, Jane is right – you are not to blame.

  35. Ms Fonda, thank you for sharing your insights regarding your mother and family history. I cannot imagine the pain that she, or you, felt. I am a local genealogist and believe that one must fully understand the past, in order to gain perspective on the future. I am from Ogdensburg, N.Y. and understand that your mother is buried here. Please let me know if you’d ever like assistance with discovering more about your family history, as I’d be honored to help.

  36. Good Day Jane.

    I am the owner of an older home in Cardinal, Ontario – which is right across the St Lawrence River from Ogdensburg, NY where your mother is buried.

    Cardinal is 20 miles east of Brockville, where your mother was born.

    The home was originally built by John Gray in 1878. He was a starch worker whom went on to start the St Lawrence Starch company in Canada.

    According to more than one source in Cardinal – these were respectable elderly people in Cardinal – your mother lived in my home many years ago.

    I have known about this for a few years now but just found your site and now have a way to tell you.

    I have a list of all the owners of my property and your mother’s name does not show up on it, but I wonder if she ever worked for a dentist or undertaker or doctor. All three professions have owned my home in the early 1900s when your mom would have been a teen and early adult years.

    I would like to offer you information on former owners to see if any of those names show up in your mother’s notes. I am curious to understand the connection but am not seeking anything in return. If it helped you with closure I would be happy to help.

    I have blemishes in my family tree so I know how hard it is to piece facts together.

    • Dear James, Thank you for reaching out to me re my mother. I believe she and her family lived on a farm and sold eggs and apples. The wealthy relatives in another part of NY state, the Huddleston Rogers, moved my mother’s family to their (company) town and helped support them in exchange for them looking after their physically and mentally challenged daughter. So, I think mother left Odgensberg in her pre-teens. Again, thanks. Best, Jane

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