Just Listen - A Memoir
Review is by Molly
‘I made you, you have to let me. I can do what I want.’
Jenna Young’s Just Listen – A Memoir is a persuasive account of one survivor of sexual abuse, depression and self injury including eating disorders.
Just Listen is available as a Kindle download and paperback work from Lulu is a work comprising 14 chapters. I will detail Chapter 1 more heavily because it sets the tone, pace and understanding for the chapters following.
At age 21 Jenna Young found herself in a psychiatric hospital following ten depression years during which time Jenna had been bulimic was becoming anorexic and had resorted to self mutilation to help alleviate the pain she had carried for years after learning at an early age to hide her feelings.
The book opens just after Christmas as Jenna is recovering from a car crash which left her wearing a cast and walking on crutches, she had a job she enjoyed, friends and a life which seemed to be on track.
During a shopping trip another car crash taking place in front of her triggered emotions she was unable to stifle and ultimately led Jenna to a hospital ER where the nurse quickly noted the scars on her wrist, began to question and a volunteer stay at South Pines Psychiatric Hospital, psychological evaluation and the question, ‘Have you ever been sexually abused.’
Able to at last face the awfulness of the ordeal, to begin talking about the experience, and receive the help and needed reassurance that all victims must have; Jenna began the long road to recovery. Eight days after she signed herself into the Hospital Jenna was released to first face the Confrontation she had to have with her abuser. She sent him an email. His response did not address the abuse, rather he told Jenna he had had a bad childhood. Jenna’s predictable reaction to having no release to her own pain was more cutting, and a second go round at South Pines Psychiatric Hospital.
Jenna’s recovery was a long hard walk filled with stress, learning to deal with the relentless of the past, able to face the stress, and talking two steps forward and one back as is experienced by most who have undergone repeated, ongoing anguish.
For a time during the six months Jenna experienced beginning with the first hospitalization episode, facing the abuse, dealing with stress, flashbacks and nighmares, more cutting episodes, suicide attempts and desperation plus more times spent in the hospital were the norm in Jenna’s life, at last Jenna hit what she realized was ROCK BOTTOM and the long road to recovery could actually begin.
Interspersed within the sequence of events are narratives from Jenna’s journals written during that period in her life as well as, poems, and letters and emails from her grandmother. Friendships made and lost, relatives who at first believe and then deny that the abuse took place are all a too familiar part of most survivor stories.
The last four chapter titles Starting Over Once Again. Falling Fast to the Ground, Picking Up the Pieces and at last A Whole New World sum up and round out the work.
‘I was abused, but that abuse will no longer define me, it is not who I am.’
Jenna Young has written a compelling narrative filled with the denial of abuse, despair that accompanies such denial and the long road to recovery. Jenna’s story is one that counselor’s, teachers and others can recognize and understand. Familial denial makes recovery even harder, however it is no way negates the impact of the tale.
Today Jenna Young has continued her recovery to the point that she is now at a healthy weight, no longer finds solace in self mutilation, accepts that abuse, the friendships or relationships lost cannot dictate her future and has in fact found happiness in marriage and can plan a future filled with happiness, hope and children with a spouse who is understanding, patient and loving.
Happy to recommend Jenna Young’s Just Listen – A Memoir especially for those who may themselves have been abused as children, for counselors, high school library and home book shelves.
A few typos noted.
I have included the chapter listing because I am recommending this one for counselors and the like to use with patients. This will give them an idea of the scope of the work.
Chapter titles include:
During her road to recovery Jenna Young learned:
50% of woman who were sexually abused later develop some form of an eating disorder; as an anorexic 5’6” 107 pound woman Jenna felt herself fat.
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