Becoming Berit

by Berit Frydenlund McMillan

"I know that although child abuse is now a punishable offense, it hasn’t stopped."

Born in 1946 in England, Berit McMillan did not know for many years that she had relatives, including her real father, in Norway. Her mother, easily manipulated by men as her own mother had been, took care of McMillan and her twin brother as best she could, relying on the help of men, including the child’s first stepfather, who sexually abused her when she was seven. When that “daddy” was gone, her mother shared a house with someone who continually raped and beat her mother, attacked her and her brother, and finally brutally raped her. Finding herself unloved and unprotected, McMillan went to the police. Thereafter her life mostly consisted of foster homes, while her mother had more neglected babies, and the abuser remained punished. Getting into college with the encouragement of a mentor, the author garnered a profession and later met a man she could love and with whom she has had a long, happy marriage.

McMillan reveals her often harrowing experiences with men in her early life in an honest, straightforward way. But the truth hurts to read about, and undoubtedly it hurt to recall and recount these distressing, offensive incidents. As she points out, too, these events occurred in the 50s and 60s when most people did not speak of such things at all. She was lucky to have a friend who supported her and older people, including the police, who listened and affirmed her right to speak out. She kept a belief in God and does not know why she did not end up as an abuser herself, especially as she examines the damage done within her now scattered and dysfunctional birth family. The author’s book is one woman’s frank chronicle of childhood abuse and her eventual attainment of love and security in adulthood.

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