A Blind Bay author has not only survived abuse and trauma, she’s hoping her new book will help others learn to heal and forgive.
Known simply as Keri because she still requires protection, Unfinished: A Personal Journey of Healing, Self-Discovery and Resilience, took five years to write.
Keri, who wrote the book using the pseudonym Isana, suffered many years of emotional and physical abuse.
It began when she was a child and was sexually abused by family members and family friends. The horror of that resulted in a lack of self-worth and two abusive marriages.
To boost her self-esteem, Keri took up competitive running and put off facing her complex issues until she was in her mid-30s.
Perhaps the most disappointing abuse came from people in authority when she joined a municipal police force in northern Ontario.
“When I was at police college, they made you think you’d have all the support and camaraderie in the world; you were given the impression this is the way it would be,” she says. “It was, in fact, the absolute opposite. There were different rules for men and women, no consistency, and that was the real shocker.”
Keri, who joined the force in 1995, says the multifold abuse was heaped on her by “probably the biggest bullies in the playground” that one could imagine. She sought counselling in the 1990s while she continued to work on the force at the mercy of her abusers.
One dramatic incident, which is described in the book, left her battling PTSD and resulted in four years of hell trying to reach some kind of a resolution.
“I was released on a permanent disability in 2008,” she says. “The ironic part is I am still getting full pay because retirement doesn’t come until age 65 – that’s what workers comp came up with. Technically I’m still on the books.”
Twelve weeks of in-depth counselling and introspection followed and led to her book, which she says is the main thing that brought her to a place of being able to forgive.
Unfinshed: a Personal Journey of Healing, Self-discovery and Resilience, follows the life of Frances, who was born into a fear-based Christian family where physical discipline is the norm.
Frances struggles to feel safe, suffering multiple forms of abuse at the hands of those closest to her throughout her childhood and adolescence.
After college and failed marriages, Frances confronts her traumas through counselling and, as part of her renewal, changes her name to Isana, which means tenacious and strong-willed.
While her own story is exceedingly painful, Keri is adamant it is only a small part of the book, not the main focus.
“I wanted this book to be a help to other people who have suffered domestic, sexual, all kinds of abuse, and triumph and come out whole,” she says. “That’s what I want the message to be. I want the book to give hope.”
Like Isana, Keri has triumphed over remarkable odds, has found peace and is happily married to a retired police officer who was on the force for 30 years. She calls him her biggest supporter.
Some of the bullies who tormented her are now reaping the “just rewards” of their actions.
The mayor, who was previously a police officer, has been charged with extortion, the current police chief is charged with breach of trust and one of the police officers has been charged with discreditable conduct under the police act.
“I truly believe that what you put out to other people and the universe is what comes back to you,” says Keri, noting she does not wish to gloat. “What happened was in the past, I’ve moved on a lot and I hope they do too.”
While she has indeed found peace and a rewarding life in B.C., PTSD issues remain.
Dreams sometimes haunt her and certain sounds such as gunshots are big triggers, particularly if she is not expecting it.
Unable to promote her book in Ontario because of safety concerns, Keri is now happy to share her story of triumph as a potential road map for others.
Unfinished: A Personal Journey of Healing, Self-discovery and Resilience is available at Hidden Gems Bookstore in Salmon Arm and at It’s All Good Bulk & Health Food Plus in Blind Bay.
The book can also be purchased from the publisher, FriesenPress Bookstore, and Amazon. An eBook version is available for Amazon Kindle, iBooks, Nook and GooglePlay.