Hear Me

No Longer Silent, Breaking the Cycle Volume 1

Non-Fiction - Grief/Hardship
190 Pages
Reviewed on 04/26/2017
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Brenda Hammon’s memoir is a courageous work that deals with one of the subjects that many people avoid — sexual assault — and it showcases the damaging effects it can have on an individual’s growth, self-confidence, and self-esteem. Brenda suffered immensely over the years because a family member assaulted her sexually, an experience that would follow her as she grew up until she met Alfred, the man she married with the hopes of finding protection and trust. But she was wrong because her husband turned out to be another nightmare, causing her untold suffering through his repeated abuses. Hear Me: No Longer Silent, the first volume in the series, expresses how the protagonist found the courage to break free from the cycle of abuse and to stand up for herself.

I enjoyed reading this book and I felt happy at the fact that the protagonist could stand up for herself. This is the story that many abused persons should read because many of them suffer in silence. At times, one just needs to speak out and the wound is tended to. In this memoir, the author explores how devastating the experience can be. Apart from making one lose trust in men, it triggers lack of trust in one’s self and a degrading feeling of shame. Readers will find words of encouragement in these pages and the courage to step up against anyone who violates their dignity. Brenda Hammon writes with simplicity and the paragraphs are laced with emotional insights and thoughts that inspire. Hear Me: No Longer Silent is a story of pain, hope, and redemption, a book that offers powerful insights into the agony lived by many women in the silence of their night.

Deborah Lloyd

Author Brenda Hammon shares her journey of finding her authentic voice in her nonfiction work, Hear Me. Brenda grew up in North Alberta, Canada, on a farm with her parents and three brothers. A hired farm hand, Ted, was the first person to sexually abuse her, at the age of five years old. Several months later, she suffered a horrendous attack by both Ted and a family member. Their threats to kill her parents if she told caused her to keep these abuses a secret. Her only escape was riding and caring for her horse, Cocoa. This horse loved her unconditionally, unlike her parents, who did not understand her seemingly unusual behaviors resulting from the traumatic events of her young life. Unfortunately, the abuse continued in her marriage to Alfred. Her love of horses, and the birth and upbringing of her cherished twin daughters, also led to her ability to survive. Her journey of healing, and finding hope, trust and love, is truly memorable.

This nonfiction work can be difficult to read at times, as it realistically details how abuse can be inflicted. The book also portrays the troubling patterns of secrecy within an abusive family system. Brenda Hammon, in Hear Me, balances these atrocities with her acts of courage and strength. When she shares her road to wholeness, she gives hope to all those who have lived through abuse themselves. Her writing style is one of purpose and clarity, and underneath it is the wish to help others. This is a very important and unforgettable work.

Marta Tandori

Hear Me by author Brenda Hammon is a chilling and poignant account of one woman’s harrowing journey in breaking free from a terrible cycle of abuse. What it lacks in literary polish, it more than makes up for in heartbreaking honesty that will leave readers emotionally torn and angry as hell. Brenda, along with her two brothers and cousin, Nelson, are living a hardscrabble life in northern rural Alberta on a small homestead. Money is scarce and the work plentiful as Brenda’s parents, brothers, her cousin and a farmhand, Ted, all work the land. Brenda is only five and too young to do much of anything except for some basic household chores like clearing the table and drying the dishes. With little in the way of supervision, the situation is ripe for something bad to happen – and one day it does. It’s the day five-year-old Brenda’s innocence is cruelly stripped away when the farmhand, Ted, accosts her while she’s alone in the house. When he’s done with Brenda, he threatens to kill her parents if she tells on him. She believes him and it isn’t long before he has his way with her again. With all her pent-up fear, anger, hurt and betrayal, Brenda is beginning to change. She’s searching for places to hide, to become invisible but no matter where she goes, Ted is able to find her. And one day, he doesn’t come alone. He’s got her cousin, Nelson, with him and they both have their way with her.

Some time after their abuse, Ted leaves the homestead, never to be seen again, and Nelson also leaves. Brenda’s relationship with her mother becomes tense, especially when it comes to drying the dishes and helping with the chores. These seem to trigger feelings in her that she can’t understand and Brenda becomes very unhappy with her life as she becomes older and more resentful of her family and the way they treat her, especially her mother. While at summer school in Edmonton, she’s raped by a roommate’s friend and her feelings of insecurity, worthlessness and her belief that she’s somehow flawed have Brenda turning her back on everyone. Tired of everyone nagging at her, calling her a bitch, she reluctantly marries Alfred who everyone thinks is a catch, but she quickly learns Alfred isn’t the man he claims to be. With him yearning to live out his kinky sexual fantasies with her, Brenda realizes she has made a mistake in marrying him, but after giving birth to twin girls and living in a trailer on his parents’ property, she’s powerless to leave him. Her despicable mother-in-law doesn’t make life any easier for Brenda either, as she berates and verbally abuses her every opportunity she gets, which eventually results in Brenda collapsing and being rushed to the hospital, later being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. When her daughters turn eighteen, Brenda decides to leave her abusive marriage and make a fresh start for herself. The only problem is, Alfred isn’t about to let her go…

Reading Hear Me, it’s difficult not to feel anger and frustration and wonder how things became as bad as they did and most of all, why no one noticed how much Brenda had changed, especially her parents. Unfortunately, therein lies the rub. As anyone who’s ever farmed in a rural setting will tell you, your daily life is shaped and driven by the needs of your livestock and the weather and the seemingly hundreds of chores you must do. Add to that a no-frills existence with no running water, and you’ve got parents who are working constantly and may not notice the differences in their daughter’s behavior. However, what is particularly upsetting throughout the book is the author’s mother’s spiteful comments and reactions to her daughter’s efforts to confide in her. All are met with scorn and contempt. As children, we seek the approval of our parents and bask in their caring and pride. Even the poorest parents, in a financial sense, can give their children untold riches through thoughtful choices of words or simply through a hug or caring gesture. It is abundantly clear in Hear Me that this was a household where, sadly, kind words weren’t dispensed with any degree of frequency.

However, it’s also abundantly clear that Hammon is a survivor and that her strength of character speaks clearly through her prose. And Hear Me is just that: it’s hearing a child’s voice too frightened to cry out for help; it’s hearing a woman speak out and finally, it’s listening to what she has to say. Having lived through everything she has, Brenda Hammon has fought back and survived. In fighting back and hesitantly opening up about her years of abuse, she has slowly mended fences with her family and has found true love with a man who didn’t back down or run away when things got crazy. While not your typical happily ever after, Hear Me certainly has one. Read Hammon’s story and see for yourself.

Sarah Stuart

Hear Me: No Longer Silent (Breaking the Cycle) (Volume 1) is Brenda Hammon’s third book about her personal experience of sexual abuse. The first caused her to forget how to spell words of more than one syllable; she was in the head of a terrified five-year-old. The second took her step further. Hear Me is a bold attempt to help other victims. Brenda, raped by a farmhand, and then her brother, disbelieved by her mother, is isolated, learning to trust only herself, her own determination to survive, and the horses she loves. Brenda marries for protection from her own family. Can she escape her memories, the shame and lack of self-worth, the secrets she’s afraid to tell, and a possessive, unfaithful, husband with a penchant for pornographic magazines?

Brenda Hammon’s story of her life, Hear Me: No Longer Silent (Breaking the Cycle) (Volume 1), is a very brave book to publish, and it comes over as an extraordinarily honest account of the effects of abuse on a young child. The most shocking thing about Brenda’s life is the sheer normality of a great deal. Horses were her escape, both mentally and physically, but she was bought horses by her father, who did nothing to protect her from her mother’s mental bullying. Hear Me is targeted at women who have been abused, to reassure them that it is not their fault and the help they need is there if they find the courage to take it. Other readers will no longer turn a blind eye to suspicion; this is a brilliantly-written and powerful guide to children suffering abuse behind "respectable" front doors.

Arya Fomonyuy

Hear Me: No Longer Silent by Brenda Hammon is a powerful story in the Breaking the Cycle series, a non-fiction read that recounts one woman’s struggle with the cycle of abuse and how she found the inner freedom to get her voice heard. Brenda’s story starts in the very early years of her childhood when she is sexually assaulted by a hired farm hand and a member of her own family. She grows up with memories of the abuses of her childhood, feeling emotionally and psychologically hurt by the abuses. When she meets Alfred, she believes he'll be the man who’ll protect her, but she couldn’t be more wrong. It turns out Alfred has his own dark secrets, his inner wounds that change him into a dangerous man. Her marriage with him is transformed into the same story of abuse and violence. This book documents her resolve to claim her freedom by speaking out.

This is the story of millions of victims and it will come across as a powerful encouragement to victims of sexual assault. I couldn’t help thinking about the drama that took place during the campaign for the 2016 Presidential elections in the US, with women accusing the presidential candidate of sexual impropriety. One immediately understands that victims, especially those experiencing this violation at a very tender age, can shut themselves up, recoil in silence, and suffer over the years. Brenda Hammon’s writing is confident, and the reader immediately notices the honesty and candor with which she speaks. It takes a lot of courage to speak the truth, but when that truth involves one’s brokenness, it deserves to be received as a gift. Hear Me: No Longer Silent is a gift that must be read and shared, a story that encourages abused men and women to take up arms and fight for their freedom and dignity. Well-written, with powerful insights, and a message that can’t be ignored, especially by people of this age.