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Domestic Abuse Theme in Novel and Non-Fiction
Submitted by: Debra Shiveley Welch
By Debra Welch
I am currently writing Spirit Woman, a sequel to Cedar Woman, my solo novel about a daughter of the Lakota Sioux who opens the first Native American restaurant in Central Ohio, which won Books & Authors Best Native American Fiction 2011.
People have asked how autobiographical is this novel. In Cedar Woman, the farm where her father works is my family’s farm. Dean and Nellie Countryman (an alternate family name) are my aunt and uncle. The general store in May Hill is one that I went to with my grandmother. The owner always gave me an Orange Crush.
Lena Cedar Woman moves to Columbus, to the apartment I lived in at 20, and her subsequent residences are all homes in which I have lived. Her son was born with cleft lip and palate, as was mine.
Jo-Ann lived, and Chapter Thirteen is taken from my own experiences, and happened exactly as written, with the exception that I was 28 at the time, and not Lena’s 17. Jo-Ann was my matron of honor. There are many more.
I are not a Native American except 100% Lakota by adoption and live in Central Ohio. I was approached about writing a novel from a Native American’s point of view but was afraid to commit myself, feeling unworthy of this project – because I am not Native American born.. I love my Lakota family, with all of my heart. The book had to be authentic and absolutely not cross the line by writing about things which are sacred.
Spirit Woman differs from Cedar Woman Spirit Woman will be about Lena’s best friend Nicki, or Ista Numpa, and will address domestic abuse.
People has asked where I developed my story telling ability. It is in my DNA, and comes from my Celtic heritage. I am the daughter of the Beowulfs, Chaucers, Dickenses, Byrons and Kellys of literature. Storytelling is in my blood.
My book, Son of My Soul – The Adoption of Christopher, four time award winner - was released in November, National Adoption Month, and was a bestseller on Amazon within the two weeks of its release and is soon to be available in audio.
There are lots of books by and about adopted children. Why was mine such a winner? I think that anytime an author speaks from the heart, people respond. I get letters from readers who say that they have decided to adopt because of my book, because they see that you can love an adopted child as your own because that child is your own.
Son of My Soul as a self-help book about breaking the cycle of child abuse. In the book I talk about my life as an abused child, enduring neglect, abandonment, sexual and verbal abuse. I explored how each of my issues dictated how I would raise my son. By treating my experiences as a child as “boot Camp,” I would treat my son the opposite of how I was treated.
For example: there was never any food. I worked as young as 11 to earn money to buy the barest necessities for my siblings. When Chris came home, I began to learn how to cook.
I never felt loved or supported in any way. My son knows that he is treasured and that I am behind him one hundred percent.
The circle of abuse can be broken! Treat your child the way you longed to be treated and you can’t fail.
I am working on a sequel to Son of my Soul called My Cousin, My Son – A Story of Motherhood and Kinship. Son of My Soul is about my son’s adoption and the road I traveled until the day he was placed in my arms. My memoir then explores the choices I made for him so that he would grow up happy, self-assured and secure. By using my childhood as an example, and doing the opposite, I raised a fine, young man whom I am very proud of.
In addition, I also talk about when I was 14, and during a violent fight between my mother and step father, I vowed to God to save a child. Chris was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate and was going into Children’s Services when the attorney remembered us and called.
In My Cousin My Son – A Story of Motherhood and Kinship, I bring the reader up to date on what has happened since my memoir was published in 2008. I talk of how, in 2011, I had our DNA analyzed by 23andMe, to find out what else I had wrong with me, and for Chris to get some kind of a medical history.
www.23andMe also cross matches you with relatives, and it was through this feature that I learned that Christopher is my fourth cousin. It made sense. He thinks like me, like the things I like, has the same mannerisms as my family and has the same musical ability as my mother’s people. Mannerisms are, in part, by example, but so much is innate. For instance, I didn’t particularly know my father until I was 28, yet my mother would comment that I held my hands like him, thought like him, etc.
Debra Shiveley Welch is author of 14 books and the recipient of numerous awards. http://www.debrashiveleywelch.com
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Debra Shiveley Welch is author of 14 books and the recipient of numerous awards.