Don't Expect Me To Cry

Refusing to let Childhood Sexual Abuse Steal my Life

Non-Fiction - Memoir
206 Pages
Reviewed on 10/03/2018
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Author Biography

Janet Bentley grew up in a house filled with horrific sexual, physical, emotional and religious abuse. She lived daily with alcoholism, drug addiction, and gang violence. She was given to her father's drug dealers to be raped, while he watched, as payment for the heroin he "bought".

The oldest of eight children, she survived while other family members and siblings went on a path to prison, dysfunction and suicide.

Her book, "Don't Expect Me To Cry" is about a journey filled with tremendous pain. Yet it is also a story filled with the resilience of a little girl wanting to survive and an adult determined to live a happy life while recovering from the effects of the abuse.

Janet writes in hopes that the survival of the horror that was her childhood will give hope to others who are recovering from or are still in sexually abusive situations and the knowledge that healing is possible and we are not alone. Ever. She facilitates a support group for survivors of Child Sexual Abuse.

Janet loves living in the beauty of the Arizona desert and spending time with her husband, children and grandchildren.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

Believing myself to be a reasonably healed survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I didn’t expect to find myself becoming teary-eyed as I read Don’t Expect Me to Cry by Janet Bentley. But her story moved me and touched me more deeply than the many other books I have read by those who have bravely told or even written their own books, myself included. Why? Was what Janet Bentley lived through and survived any worse than what the rest of us suffered? It’s impossible to answer that as ultimately, regardless of when, where, how and by whom the sexual abuse was committed, the true suffering is what takes place not just at the time, but in the decades that follow. But what did bring me to tears was not so much the sexual abuse itself, but the agony and despair Janet endured on her path to recovery as she recognized how her insecurities were impacting her current day to day functioning and inability to move on.

What Bentley has captured so well in Don’t Expect Me to Cry is just how deeply the memories of the abuse are buried. The author’s own ordeal began at the tender age of 4. With the eventual help of therapists, she was able to go deep enough to find and face those memories. But along the way, not only she, but her two husbands and children suffered with her prescription med addictions, her suicide attempts, and her inability to trust or get close to even those she loved. This is the true story of an adult who is desperate to move past the pain, desperate to make peace with her terribly abused inner child. Ultimately, she succeeds. But the bottom line, as we abuse victims know, is that we never, ever fully “just get over it”… as so many who have never been abused tell us to do.

While Don’t Expect Me to Cry is encouraging, it’s also a reminder that healing and coping with those horrible memories is a life-long battle of small victories in a war never fully won. Why do I say that? Because Janet Bentley, just like me and millions of others who have been sexually abused by a father, spend our lives wondering “why”… not just “why me?” but “Why didn’t Daddy love me?” or “Did Daddy ever love me at all?” That is the one question which we cannot answer. Bravo, Janet Bentley, for coming out from under child sexual abuse. Your book will help others do the same.

Gisela Dixon

Don't Expect Me To Cry: Refusing to let Childhood Sexual Abuse Steal my Life by Janet Bentley is an autobiography of Janet’s life. In Don't Expect Me To Cry, Janet details her life in a straightforward, chronological fashion starting from her childhood right up to the present day. In this book, she talks about her dysfunctional family, her parents, the drunkenness and drug use rampant in her family, her siblings, her relationships, marriage and children, and most of all the childhood sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of her father and others, and her slow road to healing and recovery from it. This is Janet’s life story told in her own words. The book also contains links and resources at the end that may help people in a similar situation.

I really liked Don't Expect Me To Cry and the sincere and genuine way in which it is written. The entire book is raw and real, and although I am sure it was difficult to write about for Janet, she is aware that it is precisely for that reason that it is important to share her story along with all of the details of sexual abuse, and the emotional damage that results from it. Her writing style, which is engaging and fast-paced yet detailed, takes the reader through the good, the bad, and the ugly. I also appreciated that although coming from a history of inter-generational trauma and abuse in her family, she appears to have raised well adjusted children and stopped that cycle from propagating. This is a must-read autobiography.

Edith Wairimu

Don't Expect Me To Cry, Janet Bentley’s memoir on child sexual abuse, sheds light on the horrors and the impact of this heinous crime while also imparting hope in victims. As a young girl, Bentley adored her father. She looked up to him for support, love and affirmation. At the age of four, the very person who was supposed to protect her turned against her. His actions started a cycle of abuse in Bentley’s life that broke her to the core and made her question her own worth and dignity. Driven by the need to feel loved and included, Bentley fell into the grip of religious abuse where the molestation continued. As an adult, the effect of the emotional, physical and sexual abuse Bentley suffered, compounded with grief from the loss of loved ones, consistently followed her but she refused to let it win.

Don't Expect Me To Cry by Janet Bentley lays bare the horrendous experiences of child sexual abuse, the aftermath and the painful path to recovery. The emotions contained are raw and the scenes openly told, which helped me get a glance and a chance to try to imagine what Bentley endured. I admire her courage and ability to recount her experiences for the purpose of helping others who have suffered similar horrific events in their lives. The heart-breaking ordeals Bentley faced, and her continuing journey of healing detailed in her memoir, Don't Expect Me To Cry, will certainly serve as a tool of encouragement to victims of child sexual abuse, if only to let them know they are not alone.