Digene Farrar was in New York City to re-launch her modeling career when the first jet crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11. As a registered nurse, her instincts and training led her to the scene to help, and she was there when the second jet hit. The horror she witnessed that day reactivated her own secret trauma of childhood sexual abuse.
Finally Facing her childhood abuse lead Digene to seek counseling and help. She now works as a public speaker, advocate for the prevention of sexual abuse, and supporter of survivors. Not My Secret to Keep is her memoir of self-discovery, healing, and transformation.
Digene recently answered questions for Rose City Reader.
How did you come to write Not My Secret to Keep?
“If there is a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it”.
I spent years looking for a book like this. I longed to read someone’s story that was similar to mine. I needed to understand what I was going through. I was looking for validation for my feelings and experiences. During my search for a book, I came across Toni Morrison’s quote. It inspired me to set out to write the book that I believed would truly be helpful for survivors.
Your memoir is an intensely personal account of being abused as a child and facing that trauma again. Was it difficult to tell such an intimate story?
It was difficult to tell such an intimate story but knowing the validation it could provide for others made it easier. I’ve always struggled to make sense of my experiences and in telling my story, it’s help me put this struggle to rest, knowing that I’m helping others.
Who is your intended audience and what do you hope your readers will gain from your book?
I offer this memoir to survivors -- to validate and encourage them. I offer it to their loved ones -- to help them be sensitive and supportive of the survivor. And I offer it to therapist -- to foster learning and understanding of the intricacies of the healing process.
What did you learn from writing your book – either about the subject of the book or the writing process – that most surprised you?
What I learned most from the process of writing my book is that I could let the story go and take no ownership in what happened to me, solely placing the responsibility on the abusers. The ultimate transition/gift for a survivor!
Can you recommend any other books about healing after child sexual abuse?
In the second part of my book I provide a list of recommended books that I found helpful during my healing process.
You were one of the cast in the play Telling. Explain a little about that project and what it was like to be involved in it.
Being cast in the play Telling was a life changing experience on so many levels. The amazing bond that was established among the seven of us, the survivors. The playwright Margie Boule, did an amazing job of weaving our seven different stories into one story that helps survivors break their silence, know they are not alone, encourages them to seek counseling and begin to heal. Another highlight was working under the direction of the director Jamie M. Rea, who brought a wealth of experience to helping us survivors appear comfortable telling our stories on stage. The peak experience was the opportunity to perform as part of the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR. This play is an excellent resource to survivors.
What can friends and family of abuse victims do to support them?
The most valuable advice I can share in working with survivors is take the lead from (LISTEN) to the survivor.
What are you working on now? What’s next?
I’m currently working on partnering with organizations that support survivors, to distribute books to organizations to donate to survivors, staff training for organizations, advocacy work on behalf of the survivors. As well as taking advantage of any motivational speaking opportunities.
Up next, I’m working to produce the play Telling in Seattle in 2016.
THANKS, DIGENE! AND GOOD LUCK TO YOU
NOT MY SECRET TO KEEP IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON IN KINDLE OR PAPERBACK, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE TO ORDER IT!