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. Amazing insight into our collective experience as survivors. I was one of the Oprah 200 men show & have written about my experience (11 yrs of sexual abuse) for 30 years. You have more insight into surviving than most I’ve talked to in my life. You nailed it Ms Jane Fonda with compassion and truth. My attempt at nailing it is here:

  2. Thank you for this blog. That’s all I’m going to say this time.

  3. And, forgive me, for my continued , probably seemingly desperate, attempts to get attention from you. I am at a ??? weird place in my own healing. I try hard, to “get there”; at 43, sometimes it feels kind of hopeless, or senseless. One second of your time feels like a lifetime of getting “something”. Spirit Mother is ever present in my life; I have a hard time,though, keeping someone a channeler of sorts, and not really someone I can see and feel and be heard by. I will get there…

    • I erased your other letters, Nancy, as you asked. I have thought all along that you had been through something horrible. I cannot fathom what you’ve experienced. PLease know you are not alone. xx

      • I really would like to know… I feel lost, and I know you have no answers for me, for anyone, really; we have our life experience, and you’ve had yours, no question about that. I admire you more than any other person I’ve ever admired. I am curious about that, though. I don’t need your “counseling”, I have one of those (my other “most beautiful person”). But I just would like to know… Are you your little girl self’s mommy???

        • Nancy. yes, if what you mean is am I now able to nurture and love myself, provide the “mothering” and soothing I need when I need it. Yes…a qualifed yes. on a scale of 1 to 100, I’d say I’m at 85. xx

  4. As a child, aged 5, I was routinely sexually abused by the husband of a babysitter. He promised to leave my two year old sister alone if I cooperated and of course threatened to harm us both should I tell. The classic tale. This went on for a year.

    I didn’t tell for 12 years, during which time I developed a charming drug and alcohol habit. It was under wraps and in fact the full extent of my problem didn’t com to light until 2006 – 37 years after the sexual abuse took place.

    The first person I told was my mother. She was shocked and then she thought I was exaggerating. How could I have gone to the babysitters everyday after kindergarten, been sexually assaulted and she not know? She quizzed me, made me repeat details over and over. It wasn’t kind. It wasn’t gentle. It was an interrogation. It was about her and how she could have missed something so big.

    I wasn’t encouraged to share again – but I’m a survivor and to survive I needed to processes what to had come to realize was a huge issue and was now even bigger after the mess with my mother. University counseling services provided me with enough treatment to survive – although my addiction continue to grow.

    The second time I told someone in my family it was my father. His response was extraordinarily violent. His rage toward the perpetrator had no outlet – except me. I crawled away from that with a broken jaw, strangle marks and no desire to see my father again for 2 years. It took me a long time to understand his fear, mental illness, past experience all came together in a perfect storm. He was a man who never got the gift I have been given of great mental health care.

    People who have only seen my life from the outside see the wealth and privilege assume it has been relatively easy. Those who have heard my story of physical, mental and sexual abuse assume that I have some innate strength.

    Neither of those things is true. There is some strength. A will to survive. But also work. Learning to live beyond incidents in my past. Shaped by them, informed by them, sometimes driven by them but never defined by them.

    Your mother’s story is so deeply touching because it resonates for so many. I hope there comes a time when those who are sexually assaulted can stand without shame and tell their story without fear.

  5. This is so completely fascinating to me, particularly with regard to your mother’s condition (which, I think I saw/heard you reference somewhere as bipolar disorder). Regardless of whether the illness existed on its own or if it was triggered by her trauma, the resulting dysfunction, guilt and lack of love (or being loved) far outlasted her life. Perhaps we should visit offline sometime. This “whole thing” makes me wonder how different your life would have been if she had 1) never been victimized, 2) had help realizing that it was not her fault, and 3) allowed the family to understand the nature of her illness and trauma. Had she been able to give you emotional support and affirmation as a child, I doubt you’d have suffered eating disorders or gotten involved in controversial political affairs. Hard to say. It saddens me that you carried the burden of your mother’s death with you for so many years before discovering her truth. Thank you for reaching out to so many victims of abuse. There is much healing to be done, but awareness through acceptance and healing (not shame) is a powerful step in the right direction.

  6. I thought, for about a half a second of seeing this post of your’s, that I hoped that I would ever do something “for my mother”. I promised to spread her ashes where she wants. I will do that. She knew her little nine year girl had been raped, and she had nothing to say, outside of questions in front of police officer men, that I couldn’t and or was afraid to answer. And I wasn’t allowed to cry. She never asked if I was all right. I think I will be glad, one day, to spread her ashes.

  7. Jane, thank you so much for all that you do to help others, and heal the World, one wounded soul at a time. Your passion and commitment to issues you feel are vital to the health and well being of all is beyond inspiring. Thank you.

  8. Amazing story, Jane!! So happy you are now able to understand and process your newly discovered information and to pass it on to others to reach that place as well! I thank you!

  9. ordering the book right now. thank you.

  10. Thank you so much for your efforts at raising awareness about sexual trauma. I am a surviver of MST(military sexual trauma) and every day is an uphill battle against depression and despondency. I reported my rape and was told there wasn’t enough evidence. How did they arrive at that?? They asked my rapist and he said no. I was then threatened that I would lose my career if I continued to pursue the matter. Shortly after I was transferred to a new base and told to “just try and forget”. I wish my case was an isolated incident of callousness but that is simply not the case. I’ve been fighting with the VA ever since I separated from the AF in 2010 to recognize my PTSD and to receive compensation, in three years they have denied it every time. Please lend your voice to help victims of military sexual trauma. 100′s of women are traumatized and simply moved to a new base. The emotional and financial burdens of female veterans are considered the price you pay for speaking up. I walked away from a ten year career because of the stigma, I want to help other women in the military struggling. Thank you.

    • Tracie, I am deeply sorry for what was done to you. It is terrorism, pure and simple–although there is nothing simple about it. i ache for you. Where do you live? I will try to find out if there is decent treatment where you are. Try to read the book “After Silence” that I mention in the blog. It’s so important to know what you feel is not yours alone. xxx

    • The lack of response to sexual assault in the military both saddens and sickens me. I recently saw a movie that addresses this widespread problem and thought you might want to see it.

      The Invisible War is a powerful documentary about the struggles that victims of rape in the military face.

      Military law concerning sexual assault, rape and abuse are not the same as civilian laws and the response or lack of response by authorities is shocking. You are not alone. Peace
      Jennifer Wheatley-Wolf

      • I saw and greatly admired “Invisible War,” Jennifer. Here’s an amazing pice of synchronicity: Some of the women who appear in that important film attended a week-long therapy session at a ranch above Santa Barbara that I used to own. Laurel Springs. A very healing place. Tom Hayden and I ran a children’s camp there for 15 years. xx

  11. Thank you for this!

  12. Thank you for this beautiful blog. I fortunately have never been confronted with sexual abuse, but as a child I was for years physically and mentally abused at primary school. And although that is all behind me, I still get freaked out when I have to pass a group of people. If something small like that can already have impact, I do not even want to think about what it must be like to live with something like incest.
    I am sure that this blog, one again, will be of great help and support to a lot of people. Knowing that people really care.
    Dear Jane Fonda, you are a very special person, thank you,

  13. When you look deeper into your family history you sure do understand the cause and effects of life a lot better. I am sorry that your mother didn’t have the help that she needed. And I am sure it was extremely difficult for you to deal with. I honestly can’t imagine. I bet there is so much that you want to share with her. I also bet she would be extremely proud of you.

    I never put much thought into sexual abuse until I started teaching elementary school. I was shocked at how many students had been sexually abused by parents, friends of the family, babysitters, cousins, etc. And these were just the students that we know about. Who knows how many other kids there are that hold this secret. It breaks my heart and boggles my mind. How could someone do such an act? I just don’t understand. And often how could someone sit back and know that it is happening to someone they know.

    Thank you for putting so much of your heart and soul into the work you do in Georgia. It is soooo important.
    By the way, recently I was watching Georgia’s Rule. The movie, of course, hits home on this topic. I am guessing that is why you chose to be in it? And does the title have anything to do with your work in Georgia?

  14. Jane, thank you so much for the work you do and for bringing this issue further into the light. As a domestic violence and sexual assault victim advocate as well as a survivor with complex PTSD, I know it’s incredibly important that we educate the public – and therefore also those victims who are still afraid to speak out or get help – about the issues survivors face. Your tireless efforts are appreciated.

  15. Dear Ms. Fonda,

    Thank you so much for writing this piece. I feel as though I was meant to read it. I suffered from PTSD that manifested in seizures- severe seizures which would put me in the hospital (twice in the ICU) for days. Doctor after doctor couldn’t find the cause of these seizures. Each round was followed up with memory loss. I cannot even begin to tell you the impact of these seizures on my life (I was an actress- imagine getting seizures right before opening night…)

    Finally, one doctor helped me to see that the seizures were linked to childhood sexual abuse. He also helped me to find treatment. At the time, UPenn was running studies on seizures and PTSD; they needed to know if seizures occurred outside of the military population, and indeed, they did.

    It was a long, long journey, filled with many hours of cognitive behaviour therapy, but the work and the efforts of my amazing medical team saved my life. I’ve wanted to tell my story for a long time now, but something has held me back. I think you may have just given me the courage to speak out now. Thank you for that.

    On a final note, I met you through Eve Ensler some time ago. I worked on the world premier of “We Got Issues,” which premiered at the Apollo. Thank you for producing that important work. Being a part of that production was an amazing experience, which led to many wonderful opportunities for me.

    Again, thank you for sharing your mother’s story.

    With appreciation,


  16. Thank you Jane for writing about this very serious and life altering subject. I will be 51 tomorrow. I was sexually molested by my natural father from the age of 6 to 15, when I finally had enough strength and courage to yell “No!” loud enough to have him run out of my bedroom at night. I kept the secret until I was 25, when anxiety attacks so severe caused me to seek professional help. This is where I told the doctor (and the first person) my secret. I published a book this year of my story, Crossing Over Boundaries (Amazon) and it will take the reader through the eyes of the child for just 8 pages (because she deserves to tell us what happened-not me), and also share all the things that happened in my life as a result, because I didn’t know how to be normal, to feel what others feel, or to deal with life without fear. Please continue reaching out to as many as you can and I will to. Too many stories, too many trajedies that change the lives of these individuals forever. Here is my link to my true story novel:

  17. Thank you for the wonderfully insightful and encouraging piece about your mother. Working as both a survivor and a professional in mental heath, it is so appreciated when celebrities encourage average people about the help available, no matter how hopeless we may feel at any one moment.
    I often wonder if there were a way to express the pervasiveness of this kind of abuse; and, without categorizing or minimizing each person’s own individual trauma to some statistic.
    Sadly, I can confide that it happens more often than I ever hear anyone admit; and, the shame still metered out onto, “victims” is formidable, as your commenters attest.
    Keep up the good work Ms. Fonda
    We all appreciate the risk!

  18. Jane, Thank you so much for raising this important topic.

    I have been sexually abused from age 2.5 to 13. When I couldn’t handle the pain and suffering any longer, I started my long journey of therapy and healing. It took me 14 years to find myself and I am now writing a book about my life and how I have dealt with those dark nights of the soul.

    I am 56 right now and I want to help men who have been through similar experiences. What I found is that men who have been abused by other men, find it hard to open up to a man. This is a very important issue and to raise awareness around this topic is a big task and you are to be thanked for all your efforts.

    With much love and heart felt blessings.

  19. Such a moving story. She is beautiful. And there is something so pure and shining about her personality. You can just see her picture and connect with her. I’m impressed by the admirably brave smile.

    Thank you Jane, for sharing, and for addressing the deepest wounds, that even in today’s world, many, prefer to pretend they don’t exist. Maybe, because there is still a strong tendency to blame the victim.

    However I’m sure you have heard it countless times, you are truly, an inspiration. And I feel very fortunate, to have your guidance and influence in my life.

  20. Dear Jane
    So sad to read of your mother’s abuse and suffering. If there is a rainbow at stormy end of her life story it is the legacy she left by birthing such a brave and compassionate daughter.

    I remember meeting you at a Vday event and gifting you one of my Vulvalicious Vagina Pillows in honor of your mother. I said something along the line of giving thanks to the glorious vagina that gave birth to you. I meant it then and I mean it now and every time I read of your work and commitment to those so less fortunate.

    I have little time and patience for most so called celebrities. But I am moved by you…you give me some hope and inspiration as a woman role model. So encouraging to experience a person of your fame and fortune remaining so grounded, fiercely authentic and caring.

    The Goddess in me honors the Goddess in you!

  21. What a poignant blog post. I’m remembering why I loved “My Life So Far.” It’s your transparent, authentic and open style of writing—and living. It’s so freeing to read your words, probably because the truth always tastes of freedom. 🙂

    I’m a sexual abuse survivor, and I suspect I come from a long line of them. Although there are only snippets of stories from the family to support my suspicions, the symptoms are all there: depression, addiction, suicide, anxiety and other personality disorders. And the most glaring tell of all: the daily abuse of me and my brothers by a stepfather for over 3 years when we were school-aged children.

    The therapy that helped me–several multi-year sessions with therapists and groups over the past 30 years–has also enabled me to turn around and help other survivors, which is, I think is a crucial healing step. I’ve worked with Sex and Love Addiction fellowships, and am now a life coach.

    Sometimes, when I realize how many people are affected by sexual trauma, I minimize my own experience. (“This happens to so many men and women, just get over it already!”) But I really like what you say here about this. You can’t “put it behind you,” but you can “get on with it.” And getting on with it often involves looking it right in the face. It’s never behind you, but you can turn your experience into an opportunity to heal yourself, others, and the world.

    Thank you for getting on with it, in such an authentic way. We are all benefitting from your work.

  22. And, I am sending my “book”. I am not a writer; you will never recommend anyone to read it. Pretend you are at the place you created, for people like me, and read it. Please…

  23. Xoxoxoxo… Forever and ever.

  24. Thank-you Jane

  25. Thank you very much for writing this blog post and bringing awareness to these issues. Many years ago my friend got me to watch Georgia Rule because she knew about my own story of trauma that I had gone through and thought I could relate to the movie. That movie stunned me with how similar is was/is to my own story, and after seeing it I was totally struck with the realization that I am not alone. I am not the only one experiencing theses things and I am not crazy. And your character in that movie provided me with some comfort in my life by showing me that there are people who will believe me and people who will deeply care about what I went through. After spending some years working very hard on bettering myself and working through the healing process, now I am working to help others through this journey. I obtained a B.A. in Psychology, I volunteer on a sexual assault centre crisis hotline and I am speaking out and sharing my story in hopes it will help someone else know that they are not alone. This journey has lead me to Mariska Hargitay’s the Joyful Heart Foundation. Mariska Hargitay is the star on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and the show opened up her eyes to these crimes, so she created a foundation to help. The Joyful Heart’s mission is to ‘heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues’. You can check them out here
    They have recently teamed up with another campaign called ‘No More’ who’s mission is to end domestic violence and sexual assault. Mariska recently launched a PSA campaign with No More to combat victim blaming and I think it would be something you would be interested in. You can check that out here
    Thanks again for writing this post, thank you for touching my life a few years ago, and thank you for all you do to help others.

    • Stephanie, thank you for all this informaton. I didn’t know about Mariska’s foundation. Wonderful. xx Jane

  26. Thanks so much for sharing your story. It is my wish that every victim of sexual assault, abuse and rape speak out against these crimes.

    As a survivor of rape, I have learned the value of reporting the crime. It took 21 years to catch the man who raped me as I could not identify him; I never saw his face. I did not ask my friends and family for help. Instead I muddled through the healing learning everything the hard way.

    I drank myself to sleep for nearly 2 years following my attack. I isolated myself from the very people who could have helped me the most. Something one of my friends said one day made me realize every day I got up frozen in this fear was another day I lost to my attacker. I had to change.

    Although difficult, I did. I quit drinking and I began to focus on my strengths as an artist to get me though. I was able to turn myself around. The strength of my creative power was equal to the terror I felt that night. I used my talent to work through my fears becoming a better artist in the process.

    I never forget that night, that would be impossible. I am, now, a better person because of that night.

    I applaud all survivors who realize their story is an inspiration to others who have suffered.

    Jennifer Wheatley-Wolf
    Author of-One Voice Raised: A Triumph Over Rape (Amazon)

  27. Jane,

    How amazing that you found this out about your mother and how beautiful that you have allowed it to move you in a direction to help others. It is so like you and explains so much. Thank you for always being a light in the dark. I remember once, long ago when Troy was little and my mother was visiting us. He was sitting on my mother’s lap and you looked and them and said, ” I am sad that my mother will never be able to do that.” It was heartbreaking and I never forgot it. Much love

    • Thanks for telling me this, dear Carol. It brings tears to my eyes. xx love, Jane

  28. For ‘slaughtered innocents’ everywhere’:

    I am a rapidly-wrinkling 77 year old who did not begin the journey to wholeness until I was 53 years old. That year, a major catalyst from reading Pat Conroy’s Prince of Tides torpedoed me into serious hypno/psycho therapy and a five-year purging journey.

    After that five, came five more years of ‘wandering in the wilderness’–literally, it seemed to my family–and I finally felt worthy of my own efforts to ‘get serious’ about a really, really thorough healing journey. No more ‘past lives’ or ‘screen memories’ to hold all the guilt/shame/pain/self-loathing, yadda, yadda, yadda (though they certainly served me well in the interim). And definitely no more creedence to well-meaning therapists’ opinions that I was ‘as healed as you’re ever gonna be, so why not bite the bullet and get on with your life’–or words to that effect. When I felt I was more healed than the current therapist/adviser, I picked up my marbles (appropos,no?)opened myself up to infinite possibilities and waited for my innate ‘survivor’s instinct’ to recognize the next spiral down to the recovery of my authentic Self–the person I would have been…..if.

    So now for the Jane Fonda part. Pay attention to this lady; she knows what’s she’s talking about. A healthy, well-toned and tuned-in-to-the-Mind/Body/Spirit ‘earthsuit’ is your best defense for all the assaults one endures on the journey to wholeness. Over the last 25 years of my purging/healing journey, Jane’s guidance and candid inspiration have been with me since the early 80’s and the original workout video (which I still have). I followed her ‘trail of crumbs’ through the slings and arrows of tenacious Vet spewing, Tom and Ted, My Life So Far, career renewal with Monster-in-Law, a new romantic life with Richard and on and on and on. A deepening, more mature admiration began when learning of the Georgia Campaign not too long after its inception, her contribution to the founding of the Women’s Media Center and the most recent AFI Lifetime Achievement Award. Kudos for all.

    Sharing two experiential wisdoms: When it seems you’re going nowhere, forget how far you have yet to go, turn around and pat yourself on the back for how far you’ve come–even if you’ve just begun your journey. Give in when you have to, but never give up. ‘You’re worth it!’

    • Thank you, Corrine. Good Lord, you should be a writer!! Maybe you are. You express yourself beautifully and movingly in words. Thank you. xx

      • You’re welcome and thanks right back to you….I write, but I’m not a writer…previously, too focused on healing and, presently, not enough discipline. There are so many remarkable chronicles nowadays something will ‘resonate’ if one chooses to seek.

        My current credo is plagiarized from a scene in the movie, Grease, when the talented Eve Arden giftedly deadpans in her over-the-intercom, rah-rah speech to the students about the upcoming football game–‘If you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter!’ So be it for us all….

  29. Ms.Fonda, I live in the beautiful town Ocean Springs, MS and I am surrounded by a loving and supportive family and friends. This was something that happened to me but I’ve learned that I don’t have to let it keep happening. The Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Non-Violence was my saving grace.
    I’m more concerned about raising awareness of my sisters in arms who are still being victimized – first by thier rapist and then by the system of silence. It’s a lonely place to be and there doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency to change or to treat victims until they have been shown the door. I won’t turn this into a debate about military ethics- I emailed a more detailed description of the problem to your support email address. I just wanted MST to be included in the discussion because not many people even acknowledge its presence. Thank you.

  30. My heart goes out to you, Jane, for the loss of your mother. Having survived sexual abuse from family friends and a stepfather, and bearing the burden for decades alone, I can wholeheartedly feel for the duress, conflicted self-image, and self-loathing that can arise from the alone-ness your mother felt, which she could no longer carry by herself. Thank God for the ground that has been gained in recent decades. It is interesting to learn that the center you refer to is in my home town, Santa Monica–wish that it had been there for me as a child!
    Thank you so much for sharing this–it is a touch of healing just to know that this subject is getting the turn-around so desperately needed, and will (and has)serve(d) to validate the right to personal boundaries for women, and the assurance that we can and will be heard when courage comes to out with it. In no longer embracing it as our main, defining life event, we begin the journey to wholeness.

  31. I was very touched by this heartbreaking post, which left me wordless. Thank you for all your generous explanations and pieces of advice, at the end of the post. I have also read all the responses and your replies to them and I must say that I love your deep and very warm connection with your fans.

    On the other hand, I want to tell you that I have been looking for your book “My Life So Far”, and it seems that it hasn’t been translated into Romanian. Have you any contract with a Romanian publishing house for the translation and the publishing of this book?

    Instead, I bought your other book “Prime Time” – published here last year. I find it very interesting, as I’ve just entered “the third act”, this wonderful age. And I mean it. In fact, your book’s title in Romanian is “In floarea vârstei”, meaning “à la feur de l’âge” Sorry I haven’t found the English equivalent for this phrase. Maybe you will and tell me.

    • Olga, I don’t believe my memoirs were tanslated into Romanian. 17 other languages though. I’m sorry. best, xx Jane

  32. Jane, I wrote a post for you but you have not confirmed it. Is it because I had a link added for my book? I’m just a single mom, making about $40K a year, trying to survive and when I saw your most about your mom, it not only warmed my heart but I connected. Many of us that have been victimized have a need to help others. Mine is through my book. My father took my virginity when I was 12 years old. When I say that my natural father molested me between the ages of 6 and 15, I mean, he took much more from me than most can possibly understand. He took my innocence. Even in going through all that I have gone through in my life, from the childhood trauma, to anxiety attacks so horrifying I thought I was honestly losing my mind, to the divorce from my husband, single parenting, alcoholism, drug addiction (crystal meth), eviction, giving my kids to my brother as I sunk down further into the bottomless pit of despair, to coming to a point where I just didn’t want to exist anymore. For the first time in my life, I wanted to die, and prayed to God that he would just erase me. I had such a mess that it was too big for me to fix. Somehow I was very lucky and went into the Salvation Army recovery program (free with no ask for money or insurance-shocking actually as most ask for these things), and began to rebuild my life. I have had my own apartment since September 2005, got my son back at that time and he finished his senior year in high school and graduated (he had ADD and missed a ton of school while I was falling). I got my baby girl back in 2008 (she is now a Sophmore in High School and is on the dance drill team). I work for a non-profit in downtown L.A. as an Executive Assistant, I had gone back to college (on-line) and got my Bachelors in Psychology last year, graduating with a 3.91 GPA (Summa cum laude). I have received a number of awards, done free speaking engagements, volunteer and wrote my own book and had it professionally edited. I published it myself because I believe that is what God wanted me to do, to believe in ME enough to do it without the help of anyone, which I did. I am just a single mom, working, taking care of my kids, with a dream of helping others. THAT is why I sent you my link for your supporters and friends. No other reason but to keep trying to reach out and help as many as I can, and with you and your platform, thought maybe you would support me too. If you ever want to talk to me, please let me know. I know I didn’t go through all that abuse for nothing. I know that I didn’t go from a delusional crystal meth addict to where I am at today for nothing. There has to be something bigger Jane. There has to be. Please help me, help others. I think you are amazing.

    • Debra, I am so very happy that you have worked your way back from the edge. The book I refer to in my blog, “After Silence” is a beautiful description of one woman’s joutney to recovery that was also very long and tortuous. I did not mean to not approve your previous letter. I will try to find it and post it here. Sorry. XXX Jane

      • Awww, Jane, thank you for personally responding to me. My heart is full today. I just celebrated my 51st birthday yesterday and had the love of my children around me. Just 9 years ago, this was not the case at all for me. Life is so much better now! I will pick up the book you are suggesting. The book I wrote and was asking you to look into is called “Crossing Over Boundaries” and so far, I have 21 amazing reviews on it. It definitely tugs at just about every emotion I have been told by my supporters. 🙂 Again, I am here and I want to help. Thank you for all that you do Jane. Our country, our women, and our abused need so much love, compassion and help. We can do it if we all come together for this purpose. xoxo.

    • Debra, I cannot find your post that you refer to–that is not posted here. Can you resend? Thanks. xx

  33. Here was the original post:
    October 29, 2013 at 8:23 pm
    Thank you Jane for writing about this very serious and life altering subject. I will be 51 tomorrow. I was sexually molested by my natural father from the age of 6 to 15, when I finally had enough strength and courage to yell “No!” loud enough to have him run out of my bedroom at night. I kept the secret until I was 25, when anxiety attacks so severe caused me to seek professional help. This is where I told the doctor (and the first person) my secret. I published a book this year of my story, Crossing Over Boundaries (Amazon) and it will take the reader through the eyes of the child for just 8 pages (because she deserves to tell us what happened-not me), and also share all the things that happened in my life as a result, because I didn’t know how to be normal, to feel what others feel, or to deal with life without fear. Please continue reaching out to as many as you can and I will to. Too many stories, too many trajedies that change the lives of these individuals forever. Here is my link to my true story novel:

  34. Is this really you Jane? I mean, you? If so, wow…I am so impressed and have fallen in love with you!!! 🙂

  35. Not trying to bombard your blog. Can you email me your address so I can send you an autographed copy of my book? I honestly think you will like it Jane. Hugs and love.

    • Debra, 1715 Peachtree St NW #466, AtLanta, GA 30309

      • Thank you so much for all that you have done, all that you do, and all that you will do! I am honored and feel very blessed. The book is on it’s way.

      • Jane, it should have arrived to your office. Please let me know if you didn’t receive it. Thanks again so much for being you!

      • Jane, I sent it to the address you have here “1715” but when I ran a search, your company is at 1718. The package I sent you was a Fedex and it had not just my book in there, but a special letter to you and a few other things. Can you please confirm you received? It was signed for by “J Farmer.”

        • Debra, I will look into it. Sorry.

          • Just an update. I called and spoke to the Receptionist at your office on Friday and she let me know that it was received. Not sure if they give it to you or if you have a huge room for all your fan mail and if you will ever see it. 🙂

            Anyway, I hope you have a chance to glance through my book, if you have it given to you.

          • Debra, I have it. Will get to it soon. Thanks. xx Jane

          • Jane, I sent you my book “Crossing Over Boundaries” along with a few little special gifts and real photographs of me. Remember me? I received a very sterile reply just a little while ago on my yahoo personal account and although it says that it is from you (and was very clear about how I could not respond back on the email), it left me feeling a bit saddened and deflated. I know you can’t write a lot about a book you said that you read but it just seemed too simple. Honest. Which daughter are you referring to? Are you speaking about my oldest or my youngest? Again, I have been waiting and hoping for a little more I suppose.

            If you liked it at all and you really did read it, can you give me a review on Amazon? That would be huge to me? Anything. A handwritten letter from you that I could frame? Anything. This generic email I received broke my bubble.
            Thanks Jane.

            [email protected]

          • Debra, what ‘generic email’? I read your book front to back and wrote you how much I like it and how impressed I am with you. Is this what you refer to as generic? Did you receive my email?

          • I am sorry Jane. I didn’t mean to sound ungrateful. I did receive an email. I guess with my book floating around in a sea of books, I, in my own head, was hoping you would like it so much, you could do something with it, or even give it to a friend. That was my hope, not yours and I am the one that sent what I did to you. You never asked. I am thankful you read it and liked it. I thank you for the reply with your kind words as well. I wasn’t sure which daughter you were referring to as you said that you were glad she was able to understand and love me as I expressed in my book. I have 2 daughters and my oldest took on most of the house and responsibilities while the younger one went to my brother’s house for nearly 5 years during my addiction and through my recovery. I wasn’t sure which daughter you were speaking about. The good news is that all 3 of my children are in my life, love me and have forgiven me. I just have to still work on forgiving myself. Every so often the guilt of what I did comes around and I may have to always work on that betrayal. My kids should have always come first. In love and respect for you.

          • I referred to the daughter who was so supportive before and after you were in the home and got well. So glad all your children are with you, close. xx jane

  36. Hello Jane,
    When I log in I see my post from 3 days ago with a comment “awaiting moderation”. On the public page it is not confirmed. I wonder why. In my post and being a man, I raised the issue of how sexually abused men by other men find it hard to open up to another man. I want to help men in such a situation and I am finding this to be a challenge. Your thoughts on this are greatly appreciated. Your post has touched me deeply so thank you so much. You are doing an amazing job.

    • Hearme, I have long been aware that boys and men are also traumatized as women are by sexual violation. I applaud Oprah and Tyler Perry for their efforts to bring this into public view–to break the silence. I recently heard that more men in the military service are victims of sexual violence than women. It breaks my heart. But I am unclear what I should re re your letter of 3 days ago that you say is “not confirmed.” What do you mean “not confirmed” I cannot find this and will you resent it if I haven’t posted it? x

      • Thank you so much Jane. Here is a copy of my previous post. I love your commitment.

        Your comment is awaiting moderation.
        October 29, 2013 at 10:20 pm
        Jane, Thank you so much for raising this important topic.
        I have been sexually abused from age 2.5 to 13. When I couldn’t handle the pain and suffering any longer, I started my long journey of therapy and healing. It took me 14 years to find myself and I am now writing a book about my life and how I have dealt with those dark nights of the soul.
        I am 56 right now and I want to help men who have been through similar experiences. What I found is that men who have been abused by other men, find it hard to open up to a man. This is a very important issue and to raise awareness around this topic is a big task and you are to be thanked for all your efforts.
        With much love and heart felt blessings.

        • Hearme, I wasn’t sexually abused by the same sex but I totally get what you are saying. If you glance at my post to Jane above, my natural father victimized me for years in my childhood. I too, have a hard time trusting men, but for some reason, I tend to be attracted to the kind of men who only care about themselves, and when I looked closer at that, I realized that no matter the man I selected, he would have the same type of “trait” as my dad. “Only caring about themself.” Get it? It didn’t come to me in this understanding until a few years ago. There is just so much and too much to write on a blog. I too wrote a book and published this year. I think it is wonderful that you are writing your story. I think because the percentage is so high in abuses that go on, and all these individuals grow up with that same “hole” in their heart, that reading other individuals experiences and ways that they have managed to forgive, resolve, and get their life back may help them to connect and find ways to help heal. That is my hope. I’m sure it is yours to.

          • Thank you Debra.
            I totally agree with you and I also encourage everyone who has been sexually abused to come forward and deal with this burden and traumatic experience as soon as they possibly can. The outcome might just surprise after all.
            Not only I no longer am angry and resentful, but what’s important is the way I see my experience in a spiritual way and how everything fits into place.
            There is a reason in my opinion for everything and only after many many years of soul searching, this is now much clearer to me.
            God bless you all and everyone who is supporting this cause starting with Jane who is doing a wonderful job.

  37. Hi Jane, I applaud you for all the help you give others. I was abused during my early to late childhood. I have been saddled with Borderline Personality because of it. It became debilitating at age 40. Now at age 52 I am doing much better. I have to thank for helping me and continuing to support me. I volunteer for the NAMI Connection groups here in Portland, OR. Because of my history I reoffended against my daugher on two occasions. That happened almost 20 years ago and I have been able to heal the wounds that I caused my daughter. I do not use my abuse as a crutch, but as a symptom of what get carried on when a person is abused all their life and then becomes the parent. I hope that the cycle doesn’t repeat with my kids. I have grandkid’s now.And I wonder what their life is going to be like.

    I was abused starting shortly after birth. The year was 1961 when this all started. I was physically abused, sexually abused and verbally and psychologically abused. At 15 I was kicked out of my home by my then raging alcoholic mother. I was assaulted with bowls and beer cans and told to leave and never come back. Of course there is much more to this story, but I don’t want to take up too much space on your blog.

    • Chrissy, my heart breaks for what you went through but God you found NAMI and are healing. Brava! xx

  38. Dear Jane,

    Thank you for your reply. I’ve done my own investigations and I can confirm that your memoirs were not translated into Romanian. I must confess that I am very glad they were not, because I’ll be extremely happy and honored to do this next year. I’ve already ordered your book online. I’ll undertake a market survey this month, by contacting some publishing houses in order to present them the project. I retired a few months ago, so I have plenty of time…

    At this moment, I am translating the play “33 Variations” by Moisé Kaufman. After having read all your posts about this play, I was very curious to read it and immediately ordered it online. Last week I received the book and read the play. It seemed so interesting to me that I spoke about it to some of my old friends and ex-colleagues, actors and directors. I used to work for a while as a literary manager in a very important theater in Bucharest, the Bulandra Theater (see more here: ). They were very enthusiastic and asked me to translate it. Consequently, thanks to your blog, Moisé Kaufman’s play might be performed in Romania. I’ll keep you informed on both projects, on which I’ll work hard! Promis, juré! 🙂

    Thank you again, dear Jane, for this extraordinary blog where you share all your interesting experiences. Many thanks for the time you dedicate to it, as well as to all your fans – including me.



  39. You write such meaningful posts here and with this one you are informing again on something many don’t realize. One of my books had a hero who had been abused and I did a lot of research on the consequences for males. So many don’t get it that this is not over when the event is past them. It has life long consequences for the victims. Great job again to bring this truth out and help others understand their loved ones who can’t just ‘get over it’ without help.

  40. Your reply encourages me. Thank you, Jane.

  41. Dear Jane,
    Thank you so much for sharing this moving story about your mom’s suffering and putting it into perspective. What you said about the need to always believe a child who tells about sex abuse, prompted me to write a response. For the past two years I have been trying to help a little girl (soon 7 years old) whom I have never met. But I have read the medical papers stating she was sexually abused by her dad, and I have listened to a video recording her at age 2 saying she doesn’t want her dad to touch her “gina”. Based on this and other evidence, such as proof of meth being found in her urine, and voice recordings of her telling being beaten by her dad, I have helped the girls’s mom contact people and organizations that might be able to end the abuse and hold the perpetrator(s) accountable. However the girl lives 24/7 with her abuser.
    Surely this issue – helping a stranger – is not something you or other private citizens have any responsibility to address. And there are so many children in desperate need of help. But what do we do when law enforcement, children’s services and judges are failing to protect victims of sex abuse? We ask people who have a heart, like you, and we hope that the public attention that someone with a vast outreach could give might move things along. The situation of this little girl is particularly difficult, as her dad’s crimes are being absolved by corrupt judges and police in the state where he lives. There appears to be a pedophile ring controlling the judiciary in this state (Maine). Why else would irrefutable evidence of sex abuse be rejected by judges and prosecutors?
    I cannot give my name in this post (but it is in the profile) because the people who keep the girl in sex abuse stalk and slander everyone who tries to help her. Her mom has lost her last two jobs because of this incessant internet stalking. The web is full of slander against her, none of it is anywhere near the truth. Police who try to investigate are threatened and the media is silenced on this case. The seven lawyers who over the past four years have readily taken on the girl’s case (again, the evidence is irrefutable and all were certain it would be easy to remove the girl from such an abusive, dangerous father) have all been threatened to the point that they all dropped the case just before a major hearing. It is a case for the FBI, however it must be so corrupt not charging the dad, his helpers in the Maine government and all involved that I cannot even express it. The mom has tried every legal way to protect her daughter, but is getting nowhere. She is being threatened with jail herself, and has no hope of any fair hearing or trial in the state of Maine. Nor can she go to Maine without being jailed, even though she is a law-abiding US citizen with not as much as a speeding ticket to her name. Jane, if you know anyone in US law enforcement who is honest and not afraid to take on a pedophile ring that is destroying not just this little girl, but many more, please see what you can do. It is time to act. I can be contacted via the mail address in my profile. Anything you can do would be very much appreciated. Warmest

    • Childsrights, I will look into what can be done. Thank you for caring. I’ll get back to you. xx

  42. Dear Jane:

    Without divulging too many details, I can only say that life required a good deal out of me before i even reached 40. By that time, I already had lost my dad at age 14 (he was 45 and died of lung cancer), found my brother dead of a drug overdose (he was 38), and in between suffered through things like being bullied and, oh yes, one other thing – sexual abuse. Yes, it really all happened to me. I’m sure there is some deep rooted reason I was able to be resilient and not throw in the towel, but when I look back at it, I feel just about anybody else would have done themselves in – and yet I continued to keep going. And during all that time, the one thing I DID resist was the idea of going to a therapist. Heck, I was strong, etc. etc.

    But by age 41, well, I learned that despite all I endured and survived, my nerves weren’t made of steel after all, so I FINALLY gave in and went to a psychologist. And you know something? When it’s time for be to go down the tunnel of light, I think it will rank as one of the smartest decisions I ever made. Yes, I’ve tumbled here and there still – I mean, gee, that is life after all – but I’ve learned not to beat myself up, not to internalize someone else’s taunting, and in many cases, even learned to let go of the anger at my tormenters and have a certain amount of pity for them, and even forgive those who said unbelievably insensitive and nasty things.

    So to anybody reading this, I say loudly and strongly, I truly understand your hesidency to ask for help, but trust me, you WILL feel better and stronger afterwards. For some it will be a big tunnel, but there IS light at the end. And by sticking with the help, you can only become stronger. Trust me, I really wish I had done all this sooner, but better late than never – and for the first time, despite a few setbacks (one of them being that I was layed off my 20 year job last December), I know it’s not the end of the world, I am not alone in this situation, and somehow I will survive.

    Knowing all I know now, I still can’t even imagine what torment your mother must have felt, and it just saddens me to no end that she felt she had no other option but to end it all. Of course we can’t change what has happened, but by telling people of her ordeal, her death will not be in vein. I know she must be looking down on you and breaming with pride saying, “You go, Jane. I’m with you all the way!!”

    Don’t know what else to add to that.

    Chuck Moran

    • Chuck, what you say is SO IMPORTANT. I wish everyone could hear this. Thank you. xx

  43. And, if I had a time machine, I wouldn’t change a single thing. We are our life experience; that is what we have. I want to be okay in it, and somehow you are part of it.

  44. Unfortunately this is, at its essence, a political problem. The strong should protect and assist the weak. Sorry if i need your indulgence here…. these solutions cost money. The left wing believes it is money well spent. our misguided right wingers disagree.
    Like you Jane, my mom was sexually abused as a girl.
    Perhaps that somehow accounts for my respect/affinity for you

    • THank you, Edward. Not all solutions cost money. The Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica, part of UCLA, is all free. But yes, too often it costs more than victims can afford

    • I disagree, Edward. I think this has a lot to do with parenting. Politics are of little consequence to how parents react and “act”, in regard to their children. My parents said nothing to me, ever. Not ever. That is not political, that is a shame. Politics, in 1979, had nothing to do with my experience. I am a leftist, for sure; however, it wouldn’t have mattered what the government had to offer; there was nothing offered to me, by anyone. It has been my experience, after all of my experience, that there are avenues. There are non-profits, there are just plain people, there are places like this; a lot of places. This is not a political problem. I have no solution, for sure. But, I disagree with you, that it is political. It is a about some fucking stigma of sexual abuse that no one wants to talk about. There are lots of “places” to get help; there doesn’t seem to be enough people as fond of physical health, as there are people fond of mental health. That’ the problem.

      • Many people are very uncomfortable talking about or addressing issues of mental health and especially trauma-caused mental health problems, both for combats vets and for people who’ve experiences sexual trauma–sometimes the two overlap. Liberals tend to be more empathic to mental health issues, more believing in the value of therapy. It was the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s that discovered the overwhelming numbers of women and girls (and later men and boys)who had been victims of incest and rape. The brilliant Psychiatrist Judith Herman wrote in Trauma and Recovery, “…the study of psychological trauma is an inherently political enterprise because it calls attention to the experience of oppressed people….only an ongoing connection with a global political movement for human rights could ultimately sustain our ability to speak about unspeakable things.” I agree with her.

        • And thank you for being part of it. And thank you for giving us a place like this. It is hard to find some way to “be”.

          Safe in someone’s office is a much different thing than this.

          I think I’ve said more here, to you, than to anyone besides her.

          I’ll really try to shut up now.

          On a lighter note, I watched some clips from the Newsroom today.. You are brilliant.

  45. I am sorry for what your mother went through and also for how it must have affected you. I became aware of the prevalence of sexual abuse after my 6 year old son told me what his father was doing on visits with him. I tried to protect him in family court but they covered up the evidence and were forcing him to keep going with him despite severe trauma symptoms. I went into hiding for three years and then when the DA and judge promised they would protect him, I came back. It was a trick and despite him bravely telling professionals about it again, they took him and his brothers away from me. He ran away and went into hiding himself for 2 years staying in an underground of safe homes. Meanwhile, I started an organization to end what I call “Court Licensed Abuse” because it turns out what happened in my son’s case is the norm. There is a huge cover up of sexual abuse in family courts. ( and I’m trying to raise public awareness of this issue. Here is my son’s story on Fox News L.A. He actually had to get married to escape his father and family court:

  46. I put the wrong link in my comment above. This is the Fox segment with the video about my son’s story:

    And this is the link to the website with the research confirming this is a huge problem:

    There is a movie in the making about our story. The truth needs to come out so children in the family will finally be protected.

  47. Wow. There are so many stories being shared on this blog entry. So many people, wounded, but showing strength, courage, and a will to not allow it to happen to others. There are also those still struggling to find their way. My heart goes out to them. (Some I think about often and hope that they find their way.) I have written down the book titles and documentaries shared here. To those who have told their stories and those who are not quite ready, I hope that you find the support you need, the healing that comes with it, and the peace to live your life to the fullest.

  48. With all due respect to the seriousness of theses posts, and fortunately for me…something I am not familiar with. However, I know about sadness because my mother, with her movie star looks…graduated from BU Law School in 1940 and had 4 girls in less than 6 years and eventually died from cirrhosis of the liver at 66. My handsome dad with sailor blue eyes…wound up dead in a trailer camp less than 11 months later from alcoholism. I was 33 and the mother of 2 at the time.

    But…we can all keep our humor…you guys need to see this picture of Jane Fonda:
    (Google it)

    “The star stole the spotlight as she snuck into a picture of Melanie Griffith and Carly Simon sharing a tender moment with each other at a gala in Beverly Hills, on Wednesday night.
    The veteran actress looked to be in a comedic mood as she flashed bunny ears over Carly and stuck her tongue out, successfully ruining the sweet memento.”

    Ha! Great to keep our fun side, despite what life sends our way!

  49. Lo.. I wrote “theses” posts! Good to laugh at ourselves as well!

  50. It’s interesting to me that you use a scale of 1 to 100. 407 days ago, my life was being lived at 59. Today, it is at 65. Slow, sustainable progress is what works best for me.

    Whenever you write about healing from trauma through understanding, it moves my spirit.

    Jane, I got that job I wanted at the bookstore!! Looking forward to you coming to Beverly Hills — MICHIGAN — when your novel come out (for a book signing engagement). It sure beats where I was & God, being surrounded by literally millions of books…well, it feeds my soul. Still doing well on “my journey”.

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