Continuing in my series of interviews of people I find worthwhile to feature.
People who survived “life” as it was thrown at them.
I became aware of Caryn Walker on Twitter very early on in 2018 when I started my rants about Pret. Caryn was a very early supporter, actually one of the very first! She’s quiet, but solid in the background. I appreciate it, Caryn. Thank you.
Her autobiography about child sexual abuse, and the violence she and her siblings suffered is a difficult read, but it is an important read.
I left a review on Amazon last year, but it is gone as I have deleted my Amazon account and everything will be deleted when closing an account (I closed it because they are the biggest workplace bullies…sorry had to mention!). But I kept a screenshot as Caryn was very touched about it, so I thought I’d keep it.
Ok, I am German, I write long sentences, please bear with it. But it comes from my heart. My review on Caryn’s book:
A Must-Read for Victims, Survivors, Supporters, Care Workers, Law Makers and Legal Institutions
»Our scars make us who we are; let’s wear them proudly and throw this shame aside because it was never ours to bear« — Caryn Walker (P. 187)
I came across this book a few days ago, bought it and did not expect to be taken to where it took me. This book will take you into a war-zone, a hell so out of proportion for anyone to suffer through, let alone innocent little children at the hands of their own parents! The crimes Caryn Walker, with the help of Linda Watson-Brown describes are so horrendous, I lost faith in humanity while reading these accounts. But I gained it again when I finished reading. The strength, determination and love for justice, life and true family beams out throughout the book.
You will feel all kinds of emotions, sometimes at once, utter shock, the sense of urgency, love for these precious kids, disbelief at the social workers system, total disgust for criminals who should never have been allowed to be “guardians” over children, relief at justice, frustration, hope, fear, courage.
Caryn Walker has given herself and her beloved sister Jenny the voice that was suffocated in confusion, pain and horror as they were forced to hide, as well as never believing they could be heard for so long. Caryn, Jenny and their siblings experienced all kinds of abuse imaginable, or rather unimaginable. Caryn’s determination to give Jenny and herself a voice, and to go all the way through to reach justice is beyond inspirational and humbling!
This book is a must read for everyone to see the reality of cruelty done to children, and the urgency to open our eyes in our neighbourhoods, families, class rooms, everywhere, and to give ear to anyone speaking up about childhood sexual and all kinds of abuse, as well as to investigate where the victim can’t speak as yet, it should also question the legal system, and provoke new discussion and laws to move away from lenient sentences and bring true punishment and a better deterrent against the sadistic criminals, who commit these crimes.
This book has to serve as a painful reminder to a disastrous social workers system that failed these children for so long. And it will be a megaphone for so many children and adults who suffer and suffered through childhood abuse. It will give them the courage and voice they never dreamed they’d have and a renewed trust in the Legal System!
Her name is Jenny.
Late Night Girl: Please introduce yourself and what you do, be it in occupation or private, even if you are out of a job, it is not about a status but your passion for whatever your hobby, campaign or raising awareness is about:
Caryn Walker: I have worked as a photographer for the past 17 years. But qualified as a life coach last year and as a CBT counsellor in 2016.
LNG: How would you describe yourself in one word?
LNG: What quote, that inspires you, has either changed your life or even helped you transform it into action?
CW: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” – Nelson Mandela
LNG: Biggest regret?
LNG: Biggest success or something you’re proud of, next to your children of course if you have children, can be anything from occupational or private, something you still would smile about on your last day?
CW: Giving my sister a voice.
LNG: Apart from the usual things like ethics, honesty, hard work etc. what piece of advise you would give to anyone who is thinking of going into the activity you are/were involved in? What headaches or pitfalls would you tell them can be avoided?
CW: Always have a back up plan, and go see the world – explore. Nothing is set in stone.
LNG: What was the most challenging experience you’ve ever had, be it personal or professional, that you overcame and went through in one piece so-to-speak, or if you got broken, recovered again?
CW: Taking my father to court, emotionally and physically it was the hardest thing, I thought it might break me.
LNG: What, if at all, would you do differently in this challenge now in hindsight?
CW: Let go of toxic people earlier, I learned who did and didn’t have my back but I still held on too long hoping things would be different – they weren’t.
LNG: If you were invited to do a TED Talk, what would be the subject you would want to talk about and why?
CW: I would talk about my journey and how talking heals. I would try to reach that person in the room that was still holding onto guilt and shame.
LNG: What is your definition of success?
CW: Success to me is peace in your heart and being loved.
LNG: What was a time or situation where you felt like giving up, but found a way to keep going?
CW: Court again. I honestly felt I would not make it through to the trial, I lost parts of my hair, I got really poorly, but I did get through and got the justice I deserved.
LNG: When is the time to indeed give up or let go?
CW: When your heart doesn’t feel it any more.
LNG: In one word, how do you define leadership:
CW: To empathize as well as be in charge.
LNG: Favourite or most meaningful book to you and why? If it is hard to choose one, then the last or most recent book that really meant something to you or something clicked:
CW: “from heroin to CHRIST” a true story by Elizabeth Moldovan. A real survivor with the spirit of a lion.
LNG: If you could change a pet peeve of yours, what would it be?
CW: I would love to see an end to the use of plastic in the supermarket.
LNG: What is the positive thing people keep saying about you?
CW: People tell me that I am strong, and that I am genuine.
LNG: Outside your occupation, and again next to your family, what is your great passion when off work?
CW: I love to be outside, walking or cycling, or reading on the beach with my dog.
LNG: What is the core “mission” of your occupation or campaign?
CW: To reach victims/survivors and help them to find their voice.
LNG: Favourite meal:
CW: My favourite meal is beans on toast, with cheese.
LNG: Favourite drink:
CW: Favourite drink – cream soda… alcohol – amaretto. 🙂
LNG: Favourite film, TV/Netflix series, or theater play:
CW: My favourite film is “The Color Purple” with Whoopi Goldberg.
LNG: Favourite artist:
CW: I love Frank Sinatra and all of his music.
LNG: Favourite song or piece of music:
CW: But my favourite song is – “Que Sera Sera” by Doris Day. I have this tattooed on my back and arm.
LNG: Favourite quote:
CW: Keep smiling.
LNG: Which person, alive or already passed, that you have never met would you love to have a conversation with, or even collaborate on a cause, art, work situation? NO selfies allowed! A one-off meeting between you and them!
CW: I would love to meet Rosa Parks and give her the biggest hug and tell her how she changed things. ❤
LNG: An open segment: Anything you like to mention about anything that’s important to you, no matter if you covered it already or anything that you have not mentioned, can be pointing out another website or a cause people need to know about from you or others, anything. It can even be a list of things and sites, there’s no limit, anything you want to share.
CW: THE FIRST QUESTION: Writing my life helped with my healing journey. I didn’t know it at the time but talking/reporting my abuse was the very first step on my road to healing.
The positive has come from friends and from many strangers, they have showed me that I am not responsible for what happened to me and that I needed to shake off the shame I was carrying.
I gave my sister the voice she never had and people hear her now, and they tell me that they almost know her. This warms my heart.
The biggest negative was my family, they hate me more now than before (some of them) but hey-ho. Another negative – I thought, was baring my soul on paper. But that is because I was still holding onto someone else’s guilt.
I now know that it’s ok to share your story. In fact it is really important and helps a lot of people.
Next time I will self publish, I don’t like the idea of not having a lot of control over my own story. I believe that the reason it takes people often many years to disclose or talk about child abuse is because you have to be secure in your personal life and within yourself to allow yourself to be vulnerable for a while.
This can take 5 or 50 years. But when you are ready, talk, talk, talk, it’s ok. People will hear you and believe you and you will be supported, wherever that support comes from, it may not be family.
I would tell anyone wanting to write their story to not be pushed into sharing the parts that they aren’t comfortable with and to take the time to write down what you really want to be in there.
It is your story, your journey. Big hugs to anyone that may need one.
I always end with a favourite quote of the person I interview. My favourite quote from Caryn’s book of course is the one I quoted first in my Amazon review, but I break rules and add a second quote:
“Her name was Jenny”.
Caryn’s book »Tell Me You’re Sorry Daddy« has been a Sunday Times and Amazon bestseller. It is translated into French and Dutch, and will be translated into Swedish and German. It can be found not only on Amazon. Ebay and other sellers, as well as ordering at WH Smith or your local bookstore.
I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>> podcast interview based in California, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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