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 Erin Nicole Cochran for Readers' Favorite

Janet Bentley’s book, Don’t Expect Me To Cry, is a brave and true account of a life that was filled with sexual abuse at the hands of her own father and others. It is a window into the worst kinds of horror that human beings can inflict upon those around them. But it is also a story of hope and of the will to stand up and be exactly what she is, a survivor. And a strong survivor. Her narration of her life feels so close to you that it’s like you’re there bearing witness to all her highest of ups and the lowest of her lows. You really feel the people in these pages, and there’s good reason for it because they are all very real and once lived, or are still alive. The pacing in the book and the way that the chapters were set up chronologically flowed perfectly. There weren’t many physical descriptions of people and I thought I would miss that, but I didn’t because it just wasn’t important. Everything in this book is meaningful and has its purpose and place.

Don’t Expect Me To Cry by author Janet Bentley was a book that I had to read. Many people out there may not know the effects that incest can have on even future generations, but I personally know what it has done to people who are blood to me. This is the most heart-wrenchingly honest book I’ve ever had the privilege to read. There was a line that I feel we can all point to in our lives and say this is exactly how it felt, on page 124: “I’m just now beginning to sort it all and figure out what I have to do to move on.” Our ups and downs may be polar opposites in the lives that we lead, but it is important to be cognizant of the fact that we’re all a little broken from our past and we’re all doing the best that we can with what we have. This book will open your eyes to a world that perhaps you may not be familiar with at all, but it’s imperative that we try to understand the worlds that do their best to break us, so that we can be a hand to those if and when needed. You need this book; not only will it help you heal your own wounds, but it will help you in healing the wounds of others.

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.

Viga Boland

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.

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.

Karen Walpole

Don’t Expect Me to Cry: Refusing to let Childhood Sexual Abuse Steal my Life by Janet Bentley is the author’s memoir about enduring and surviving a childhood filled with neglect, dysfunction, and emotional, physical and sexual abuse. The book describes her childhood but is more about the many years, a lifetime in fact, of overcoming the after-effects of those very difficult early years. Each year of her adult life brought new challenges as she slowly and painfully remembered each abuse, shared it with a therapist and tried to deal with how the experience had molded her. Finding good therapists and a husband and family who would support her helped her to struggle through each stage of retraining her brain. With the help of support groups, she had to learn to change how she saw herself and how she reacted to others.

While the abuse Janet Bentley suffered was very difficult to read about, beginning to understand what abused children endure and how it changes them was life changing. I recommend Don’t Expect Me to Cry to anyone who has had or knows someone who has endured a difficult childhood, whether because of neglect or abuse. Recognizing that childhood experiences mold each of our personalities for good or for bad gave me great insight into struggles in my own life. The courage shown by Janet Bentley is inspiring. Each time she thought she had made it to a happier, saner place, new challenges emerged, depression set in and a new cycle of hurting , learning, and growing began again.

Louanne Piccolo

Janet Bentley's story of childhood sexual abuse, Don't Expect Me to Cry: Refusing to let Childhood Sexual Abuse Steal my Life, is a brave effort at bringing the stigma of abuse out into the open in an attempt to disarm its power forever. The book is divided into three parts documenting the multiple abuses Janet experienced as a child, her lifelong battle against post trauma demons, and how hitting rock bottom left her with no place to go but back up again. Like a beacon of light for lost sailors, Janet's story offers survivors of abuse hope for recovery and shows that it is possible to heal and live a happy and stable life surrounded by the people who love you.

While I was reading Janet Bentley's book, I found myself repeatedly thinking of how courageous and strong she must be to reach out to other survivors of childhood sexual abuse through making her own life story public knowledge. The feelings of shame and disgust that victims experience can be debilitating and all-encompassing, and often lock victims into a pact of secrecy with their abusers. The ongoing impact of undiagnosed suffering causes irrevocable damage, but Don't Expect Me to Cry gives victims the permission to stand up and speak out without fear. I was inspired by Janet's incredible will to live and her stamina to keep going no matter what life threw at her. Her ability to rise up in the face of adversity is the mark of a true hero. If you know of someone who has been through the life-altering effects of sexual abuse, definitely recommend this book as a guide to what comes after. This book moved me.