Don't Expect Me To Cry

Refusing to let Childhood Sexual Abuse Steal my Life

Non-Fiction - Memoir
205 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 Sarah Stuart for Readers' Favorite

Janet Bentley has written Don’t Expect Me To Cry: Refusing to let Childhood Abuse steal my life in three parts. The first is the title section, the second, Don’t Expect Me To Lie, and the third, Don’t Expect Me To Die. It is not an easy book to read, even for one who has never suffered any kind of abuse or has anyone close who has, but it is an honest, brave book. It reveals a world that is unbelievably horrendous; unbelievable because it is hidden behind closed doors, sometimes by threats, but mostly by shame. Few have Janet Bentley’s courage to tell their story, but thousands of people will be helped if they read it; they will know they are not alone and that abusers can be prevented from spoiling whole lives.

Well-written and, sadly, as relevant in the twenty-first century as it has always been, Don’t Expect Me To Cry: Refusing to let Childhood Abuse steal my life is amazing. More than a memoir, this is Janet Bentley reaching out to other victims, a guiding light in the darkness. To anyone who has never suffered abuse it is a privilege, albeit a painful one, to see into a world none of us knew, or perhaps wanted to know, exists. Is there a child you think is unfriendly and accident-prone? Before you turn aside, think of this – “I woke up the next morning wishing I could die.” Janet had been raped in her father’s presence: payment for a drug debt. Thank you, Janet, for inviting me into your life.

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.

Erin Nicole Cochran

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.

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.

Tracy Young

Child abuse is a difficult subject and Janet Bentley has dealt with the after effects of severe abuse for the whole of her life. She has documented her story and dedicated it to her inner child. All Janet wanted was a father who loved her, supported her and was there when she needed him. Don’t Expect Me to Cry is a frank and personal account of her childhood traumas and the way they affected her into adulthood and beyond. Her family life was far from normal, but she emerges with a desire to survive and a passion to share her story. Too often victims of this type of abuse are filled with shame and unable to find help because of the stigma attached to this type of trauma, yet Janet has shown the strength to share her story with this book.

This is a deeply moving book that shares the author's feelings with the reader. The story of Janet Bentley is documented in an intensely personal form in Don’t Expect Me to Cry and contains a message for everyone who reads it. If you had an idyllic childhood and assume that all children had the same, this book will open your eyes to how childhood abuse stays with the victim. If you were also subjected to any form of abuse in your life you will recognize the struggles Janet has faced. Her marriage and her children were affected; in her daily life she faced obstacles many of us will find hard to imagine. She shares the darkness that haunted her and the different forms of help that she turned to for some form of relief. This book will touch you deeply and I found the letters that Janet wrote to herself and her father heart-wrenching and emotional. The book also shares details of different associations to help sufferers seek the help they need, and the invitation to contact Janet will hopefully appeal to people who need her help.

K.C. Finn

Don’t Expect Me To Cry: Refusing to let Childhood Sexual Abuse steal my life is a work of true to life memoir and emotional considerations penned by author Janet Bentley. Written for adults due to the necessarily graphic nature of some of its content, this powerful and emotive work serves to deliver the life story of its author, who suffered severe sexual abuse at the hands of several different people in her childhood, including her own father. Through three key areas of development in her life which include the abuse stage, therapy and a deeply emotional moment of near-suicide, the overall message is one of strength and healing in the face of such terrible adversity.

In the age of the current movements to uncover abuse and overturn the stigma that so many victims face, author Janet Bentley’s narrative is one of several powerful new voices that should be upheld for all to hear. While I think that this is a superb survivor’s story which would benefit other victims and help them to empower and heal themselves, this is also a memoir which should be read by everyone, regardless of their background, in order to raise awareness of the sinister practices of abuse that so often go unnoticed in today’s world. The writing is descriptive, stark and shocking, but also raw and honest in a way that takes you seamlessly from despair into hope as it continues. Overall, I would highly recommend Don’t Expect Me To Cry as a superb work of emotive memoir with an important message for the world today.

Romuald Dzemo

Don’t Expect Me to Cry: Refusing to let Childhood Sexual Abuse Steal my Life by Janet Bentley is a poignantly written memoir that explores one woman’s journey from the harrowing pain of sexual abuse to healing and self-worth. Abused by her father and other predators in childhood, Janet grew up building defensive walls and keeping a secret that almost destroyed her life. She shares her terrible childhood experiences, and moves on to her therapy, the trying moments, the fear and the uncertainty. The narrative shows her healing path and the incredible courage she had to face the child she once was — broken and terribly hurt. The journey from being a victim to self-acceptance to finding true love is an inspiring one.

The narrative is strong as, with skill, the author unveils the world of the abused child, allowing readers to hear a whimpering, scared voice. Many people who suffer sexual abuse keep quiet and some never get the chance to tell their story. In Don’t Expect Me to Cry: Refusing to let Childhood Sexual Abuse Steal my Life, the author tells a story that is repeatedly recreated in some corner of the world. Janet’s memoir gives a powerful voice to the voiceless. Written in a style that is conversational and told in an irresistible voice, the author's story allows readers to see her wounds and to listen to her cries of pain. But it is a journey of hope, a story that reminds anyone who has been abused that they are not cheap and worthless, and that they can reclaim their inner freedom. I loved the beauty of the prose, the insights into the world of childhood, and the compelling narrative voice.

Grant Leishman

Anyone who has not experienced child sexual abuse could not possibly understand the immense pain and self-loathing that such a person experiences in later life. This is perfectly illustrated to us in Janet Bentley’s heartrending and powerful memoir, Don’t Expect Me To Cry: Refusing to let Childhood Sexual Abuse Steal My Life. Bentley takes us expertly through the trauma that first occurred when she was just four years old. The one man who was supposed to be her protector and guide in life became instead an evil monster when he forced her into sexual acts of which she had no understanding and would scar her for the rest of her life. Janet faced multiple abusers, apart from her own father, over the years but always, despite the pain, the depression, the addictions to alcohol and prescription medicine, the teenage abortions and not to mention a physically bereft marriage, she somehow managed to rise above it all and take control of her life – a control she had so cruelly been denied as a child. Although her childhood sexual abuse was an integral part of everything she suffered through later in life, she was equally determined that it would not be the defining feature of her existence. She always sought the professional help she needed and even when that wasn’t to her advantage, she never gave up.

Few books have touched me, as a father and a grandfather, as Don’t Expect Me To Cry did. As a man, it is sometimes easy to gloss over the horrific effects of child abuse on the young person. “It was ages ago – just let it go and move on,” is often our response to such things. What the author shows us, so powerfully and so heart-breakingly is that it is just not that simple. What happens to a child at that tender age, when they are so ruthlessly exploited and used by adults whom they implicitly trust and believe in, is that they develop incredibly forceful defense mechanisms in their brains that set the tone for their lives. As Bentley so beautifully explained, it takes years of therapy and understanding just to bring these memories back to the surface and to address them. What particularly struck me about the author’s story was her willingness and acceptance that what happened to her as a child had shaped everything she was today and could never be totally dismissed or dealt with – it would always be there but her bravery in facing this trauma head-on, and her overwhelming determination not to let it define every moment of her adult life, shone through the narrative. I was deeply moved by this story and can only encourage everyone to read it and to realize that not only is this type of abuse more prevalent than we would care to admit, but it is also not something that can just be swept under the rug and ignored. Dirty, filthy, disgusting behavior can only be eradicated when the light of love and forgiveness is shone upon it and it is shown to be the depraved act that it really is. A superb book by an incredibly brave woman – I salute you, Janet Bentley.

Joel R. Dennstedt

What makes the truth so powerful, so compelling, so convincing … is its utter simplicity. One does not need to embellish the truth. It stands alone. Janet Bentley’s lacerating memoir, Don’t Expect Me To Cry, is powerful, compelling, and devastatingly convincing, told with the simplicity of a child’s broken scream. She could never embellish the facts behind her near destruction, even if she tried. They are too raw to bear exaggeration. And she takes you back into her personal hell of a childhood, daring you not to cry. If you do, she’ll leave you there. Such a past is not meant for weakness. She does not revisit such horrific scenes for drama. Or for sympathy. And it’s much too late to even hope for some compassion. What Janet Bentley does so very simply is make you bear witness to her truth. She may hope for good effects, but she’s really there just to shine the light.

Don’t Expect Me To Cry will shake your soul. But Janet Bentley needs you strong. She needs to show you how strength survives. It survives by bearing truth. And truth, once experienced, cannot be changed. It can only be owned. And maybe, hopefully, understood. Then, if you are strong, strong as a child, you may survive to find yourself transformed. At least you may find a life worth living. This is the message gifted by Ms. Bentley to anyone tortured by childhood abuse. The worst kind. Violent and sexual. And when you read to whom this simply devastating, exquisitely written book is dedicated … well, then be prepared to cry.

Lorraine Cobcroft

Powerful. Horrifying. Moving. Inspiring. Janet Bentley's memoir Don't Expect Me to Cry is a brutally honest account of healing from horrific childhood sex abuse. Don't read Janet Bentley's story for entertainment. Don't expect to find word magic. There are no poetic passages that make music when reading aloud. Don't Expect Me to Cry is a raw, no-holds-barred account of growing up in a seriously dysfunctional family, and struggling with the long-term effects of never learning to love oneself.

Childhood sex abuse is a hot topic at present. The true facts about the extent of it and the scope of harm it has caused to so many have only relatively recently come to light. Many have been shocked to learn where, and by whom, criminal acts have been committed. Most of us are shocked, I think, to learn how common this crime is. We - the observers - have lost our faith and our ability to trust. The victims lost that and a great deal more a long time ago: the ability to respect and value themselves. Janet Bentley details how that loss impacts every aspect of their lives: their ability to build healthy relationships, to parent effectively, to work, to make important life choices. She exposes the shame and the enormous challenge of recognizing the need to let the inner child out - remembering events the mind blocked and exposing the wounds.

Janet Bentley holds nothing back in describing both the horrific and systemic abuse she suffered, and the long and arduous journey toward healing. Don't Expect Me to Cry is difficult to read. It must have been a million times more difficult to write. But for anyone seeking a clearer understanding of the impact of child sex abuse and/or the path to healing, it is essential reading. For victims and their loved ones, it offers hope. It offers much-needed wisdom. It offers confidence that recovery is possible. And it offers some valuable information that may aid understanding and help victims learn coping techniques. It shines a needed light where darkness has prevailed for far too long.

Deborah Lloyd

The memoir, Don’t Expect Me To Cry: Refusing to let Childhood Sexual Abuse Steal My Life, written by Janet Bentley, is a poignant and heartrending book. This courageous woman was sexually abused by her father and other men, beginning at the age of four years old. She lived in a home filled with all forms of abuse, alcoholism, and drug use. Her struggle to realize her worthiness and heal the pain, shame, and guilt of her horrific childhood is realistically imparted. It has been a tumultuous journey, with many challenges; at times, she too used alcohol and prescribed medications to numb the pain. But, with many years of therapy, a loving husband and support network, and a growing understanding of how the abuse affected her in multiple ways, she found love and joy in her life.

There are a few features in this book distinguishing it from other similar ones. Her attention to detail – although sometimes difficult to read – lends authenticity to the heinous acts. The necessary, but oft-overlooked, discernment process she used in finding new psychiatrists and other treatment providers will guide other traumatized victims. Her sharing of the truly difficult ups and downs of the healing process is an honest and true representation. Additionally, she writes in a smooth, flowing style. Author and survivor Janet Bentley shares her unforgettable story in the memoir, Don’t Expect Me To Cry. It is a must-read for all abuse victims, their loved ones, and anyone who wants to better understand the life-long effects of abuse. A truly compelling story – many people will certainly be helped by this book.

Tiffany Ferrell

Don’t Expect Me To Cry is the heartwrenching account of the sexual abuse Janet Bentley suffered as a child. In the first part, we visit her early childhood and first memories starting at the age of four when her father moved from emotional, physical and verbal abuse to sexual abuse. Growing up in a household with eight siblings, Janet was the oldest. From having a severely mentally ill and alcoholic father, we find that her mother was equally sick with her own psychological issues and alcoholism. Written through the eyes of a small child, we see how sexual abuse breaks her young mind and soul. Not understanding what was happening to her, the author grew up with an emptiness and longing to be loved and accepted. Her life doesn’t get better as one male figure after another abuses her trust in them and breaks off pieces of her heart. Marrying young and having two children, she tries to be happy but the past continues to haunt her. In parts two and three, we are introduced to an adult Janet who had just lost her mother and is entering therapy to help with the trauma she experienced. This death, along with her marriage crumbling from lack of intimacy she was unable to give, forced her to get the help she needed. Slowly Bentley pieces her life back together and regains her body, mind, and soul.

First off, I need to commend Janet Bentley for having the courage to write such a raw and emotional account of her abuse. While there are so many who are living in this darkness, I believe her book will help others who have gone through what she did. They will feel comforted knowing they are not alone and that they will find the help they need. For those of us who haven’t personally had it happen to them, Don’t Expect Me To Cry has the ability to transport the reader into the nightmare Bentley had to endure and helps one better understand how to aid others. To put yourself in her shoes is a real eye-opener. I also loved how realistic this book is. It’s an everyday struggle that the author deals with and, despite therapy, support, and medication, it’s still something one must confront.