“Krissy rubbed her eyes and yawned and realized that she felt hopeful. What lay ahead? She had no idea. But whatever happened, she knew that she’d manage, because nothing could ever be as bad as living with Dorian. And now she knew that she didn’t have to.”
That’s where we find Krissy, in this much anticipated sequel to Leaving Dorian; having survived one full day outside of Dorian’s grasp, wondering what comes next. The journey that follows spans twenty years. A second marriage becomes the mechanism through which Krissy attempts to navigate her trauma and repair her forever broken heart. Being forced to manage an abusive ex-husband who quickly learns to weaponize law enforcement, the family court system and even his own children, only compounds the undiagnosed CPTSD that weighs so heavily on her narrow shoulders for more than a decade. And while the duty of motherhood shapes nearly every aspect of her life, the need to reach out to women who have also suffered at the hands of men who claim to love them eventually becomes a catalyst of change.
Finding Krissy: A Memoir of Survival is all at once eloquent, fierce and heart-breaking. More than just ‘the rest of the story’, Finding Krissy is Linda Dynel’s impassioned plea: “For anyone who’s ever given their power away – reclaim yourself”.
September 3/October 5 – University at Buffalo School of Law, with Professor Judith Olin
October 7 – Niagara University, with Dr. Dana Radatz – Domestic Violence class
October 19 – Finding Our Voices Book Club, with Patrisha McClean
November 9 – University at Buffalo School of Social Work, with Dr. Rob Keefe – Human Behavior class
November 23 – UB School of Social Work, Drs. Noelle & Chris St. Vil – Human Behavior
December 8 – Featured in Niagara Falls, NY Zonta “16 Days of Activism” Campaign
December 13 – Wilson High School, After School Dating Violence Prevention Program
December 21 – Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy, Niagara County Community College
Thrilled to announce that https://findingourvoices.net has chosen Leaving Dorian as their October Book Club selection! The virtual club meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 19 at 6pm over Zoom. All are welcome – Sign up at http://www.bookclubz.com
I *love* doing discussion groups and cannot wait to take part in this virtual chat. All are welcome! You can purchase copies of Leaving Dorian (paperback and ebook) at http://www.amazon.com/author/lindadynel
My public appearances have been extremely limited over the past eighteen months due to COVID, so if you’ve read Leaving Dorian and have always wanted to *Meet the Author* or ask a question, this is a great opportunity to connect “in person”!
When I sat down at the computer this morning and noticed that a two star review had come through on Amazon for Leaving Dorian, I immediately assumed that a first edition copy had once again slipped through the cracks. I have disclaimers on all of my media letting readers know that if they’re given the option of purchasing a first or second edition copy, second edition is always going to be a better read. I was the newbie of all newbies when I published Leaving Dorian back in 2014 and didn’t realize the importance of hiring a professional editor. Since there’s no way to put that genie back in the bottle, I simply cross my fingers and hope that potential readers take the disclaimer to heart and purchase a second edition. But when I scrolled down to read the review, I was surprised to find that there was no mention of poor editing.
“The book is ok. A little frustrating in its organization and lacking some of the spark of other similar stories. Not totally believable.”
Now I know that the ‘organization’ the reader is referring to is my back and forth style of writing. I go from the day that I left my ex-husband in one chapter to describing my childhood and then back again. I understand how this can be confusing to some people, especially if they don’t get through the book in a couple of sittings. So, no harm no foul. The fact that the reader thought that it lacked ‘spark’, well, that’s his/her opinion and they’re entitled to that. But what made me literally laugh out loud was the last sentence: “Not totally believable.”
I sat there at the keyboard, chuckling to myself. Not sure how to remedy that; it’s my actual, real and true life, so…..yeah. The reality is that I went easy on the graphic details of my childhood and my first marriage on purpose, because I vividly recall having to read an extremely graphic memoir about child abuse when I was in college. It was so horrible, so graphic, that it made my skin crawl; reading it made me cry and feel physically ill. Though it was a relatively short read, more than once I had to put it down because I felt as though the details were just too awful to know. Though I wasn’t sure just exactly what I was going to share when I sat down to write Leaving Dorian, I knew for sure that if nothing else, it had to be readable. If it wasn’t something that people could sit with then it couldn’t do its job, which was to help victims and survivors of abuse.
Again, though, readers are entitled to their opinion and if this reader didn’t believe everything that I’d written, well then, so be it; I can’t fix that. I clicked off Amazon and went on with my morning, but I couldn’t help coming back to that last line, “Not totally believable.” Why did it bother me so much?
I guess what’s bothering me has little to do with that singular review. What’s bothering me is that I know very well that victims and survivors of abuse are met every single day with that very same skepticism. Are their friends, loved ones, co-workers and neighbors coming right out and saying, “I don’t believe you”? No. But responding to a women’s candid, heart-wrenching admission that they’ve experienced something tragic with questions like, “Why didn’t you say something sooner?”, “Why didn’t you call the police?” or “Are you sure it’s abuse? I mean, couples fight; don’t make more out of this than it needs to be” is exactly the same sentiment. It’s “I don’t believe you” wrapped up in feigned moderation, excessive caution and good judgement. (…We don’t want to accuse someone unfairly, now; let’s make entirely sure we have all the facts before we start ruining reputations and upending lives…) Isn’t it interesting, though, how often it’s the abuser that’s given the benefit of the doubt instead of the victim?
Students and DV service providers have asked me on more than one occasion what I think the most important thing is that you can say to a victim or survivor of abuse. That if I only had one sentence, what would I choose? My answer is, and will always be, “I believe you”.
To continue to diminish victims and survivors with the old, worn out stories of supposed liars, “Oh, I know so-and-so whose wife lied about him hitting her and he got thrown in jail and it was total BS…” or “There was this girl when I was in college that lied about being raped and the guy she accused got kicked out of school and his life was ruined forever…” is unfair at best and harmful at worst. People lie, it’s true. And people will lie about all sorts of things, for reasons that aren’t always entirely clear. But the chances that a woman is lying when she finally steps forward to tell her story and reach out for help is incredibly slim. More often than not, victims and survivors are actually holding back; keeping the really hurtful, humiliating details to themselves. Telling just enough to get the help and services that they need in order to re-start their lives and keep their families afloat.
Maybe that reader didn’t believe my story, and that’s fine with me. But to every victim and survivor out there who reads this blog post, no worries. There are multitudes of people out there who will believe you. Reach out for help. Tell. Get to safety. Re-start your lives; you deserve nothing less.
And just for the record, “I believe you”.
It was a looooooong semester!!
On Saturday, April 7, I spoke at the “Dress for What’s Next” event at the University at Buffalo School of Law. This free, all day event for survivors of domestic violence was put on by an all-volunteer team of UB Law School students. Daycare and lunch were provided for women and their children and there was even a therapy dog on site 🖤 Meditation and self-defense classes were offered, support and referral information was provided and there was even an opportunity for the ladies to do a little “gently used” clothes shopping👗👠👜 Impressive from beginning to end and I was absolutely honored to be asked to be a part of it!
Miss Representation: You Can’t Be What You Can’t See A Documentary Film by Jennifer Siebel Newsom
Tough Guise: Violence, Media & The Crisis in Masculinity with Jackson Katz
Tough Guise 2: Violence, Manhood & American Culture featuring Jackson Katz
The Mask You Live In: Is American Masculinity Harming Our Boys, Men & Society at Large? A Film by Jennifer Siebel Newsom
Feminists: What Were They Thinking? A Documentary Film by Johanna Demetrakas
The Bystander Moment: Transforming Rape Culture at its Roots featuring Jackson Katz
Surviving…Thriving: A Journey of Healing through Art featured nearly one hundred pieces of artwork in a variety of mediums, all created by survivors of domestic violence. It was once again held at The Castellani Art Museum (which sits in the center of Niagara University campus) in conjunction with the Red Flag Campaign, a national public awareness initiative designed to encourage college students to intervene when they see a warning sign (“red flag”) of partner violence. Niagara University, The Child Advocacy Center of Niagara, Family & Children’s Service of Niagara, The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office Victim Assistance Unit, and the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier were all proud sponsors of the event, with all proceeds being donated to Passage House Domestic Services, a program of Family & Children’s Service of Niagara.
I was happy to offer closing remarks at the Welcome Reception, as October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Photos Courtesy of Andrew Emmons, student at Niagara University