When I began to write this manuscript, it was specifically for my children and was meant to help them make some sense out of the tangled threads of their young lives. I didn't get very far. It made me so sick I had to burn it in the fireplace in order to get well.
A year later I started again. I had achieved some success as a ghost co-author of a daily devotional book and a publishing house called to ask me if I was working on a manuscript. I told them I was not. They argued with me, saying that they had heard that I was writing a book.
"It's not for publication," I informed them. They continued to call me about it even though I told them it was not something anyone else would want to read. It was for my children. "What if it helps someone?" they responded.
How could I refuse? I was deeply conscious of all the years I needed help. The rest is history.
I have grown a great deal in the nineteen years since I first wrote this book, originally titled Light Through The Dark Glass under the pen name EsthersChild, which won an Angel Award in 1990. My view of life has broadened considerably and my reference points have changed dramatically. I no longer am defined by thevery intense, religious context in which this story was written although I remain keenly conscious of God in this world.
To some, my story is a testimony of the power of God in a damaged life, which it is. But to stop there would be like thinking childhood is the best life has to offer. EsthersChild has grown into an adult woman who still marvels at the exquisite beauty of nature, but finds equal pleasure just reading a book or talking to a friend about everyday life. In fact, my life has become very ordinary and pleasantly common. Those who know me now would not guess that such a story could be mine.
At the insistence of readers and friends, I am resurrecting my book under the title Darkness Overturned. Those who are still captives of abuse, or who are in recovery, need to know that they do not need to continue to relive their pain or carry their story consciously with them forever. Though intrinsically a part of them, they are free to unbuckle their seatbelts and move about life uninhibited.
From the back cover: Abuse and women have gone hand in hand from the beginning of recorded history. Darkness Overturned is a beautifully written, heart-stopping story about a young woman in modern times struggling to break free of verbal, emotional and physical abuse and the resulting ravages on her inner being. A spiritual odyssey, it is a story about kidnapping, murder, and too many marriages. Made startlingly poignant with raw self-honesty coupled with persistent courage and child-like faith in God, it is a must read for women who have survived abuse and are in the process of healing from it, or anyone who cares about or has someone in their life who is struggling to overcome personal trauma. Darkness Overturned is a hope-filled book that will challenge and inspire the reader.
Comments from readers: “I read it in one afternoon. Wow. What a compelling story and so beautifully written. Patricia has a gift, and her use of metaphors and similes is wonderful.” - Suzi A.
“It is the most incredible book I have ever read. I want to tell everyone, I really want to shout from the top of my lungs about how amazing this book is. It’s the story, the words, the spirit, the hope … everything!” - Melissa M.
"Jane Goodall, in her book Reason for Hope, talks about the indomitable human spirit. If ever there was one, it is Patricia Struntz. For someone to have gone through what Patricia has gone through, and to emerge with such grace and beauty and love, is truly humbling. To read her book is very much a humbling experience, but it leaves me oh, so proud of that indomitable spirit and the never-ending journey that belongs to Patricia." - Céline H.
“As old as I am (74), I have never read of such a living example of overcoming so much adversity by an indomitable will. Darkness Overturnedis an inspiration for all who are fortunate enough to read it.” – Laura M.
WARNING: Reading this book may change your life. It may give you courage to move beyond the circumstances in which you feel you are trapped —and that is never easy.
At the very least, you will learn about One Woman’s Way to transcend the dominant scripting of her early childhood. It is my hope and prayer that, as people read this book, it will have a ripple effect as many women come to realize the power of their own indomitable spirit.
The Crime and Violence Prevention Center within the California Attorney General's Office is no longer in operation. Due to the state's fiscal crisis, the Legislature voted to eliminate the Center from the 2008/09 budget. As a result, the Center has closed its doors. They encourage everyone to continue the important work to help keep our children, families, schools and communities safe from crime and violence. For information on the discontinued Safe from the Start program go to http://www.safefromthestart.org/index.aspx. Though the information on this website might remain intact for awhile, it might not contain updated material, statistics or source documentation.
About Domestic Violence
Every year, 3 to 10 million children witness domestic violence. An estimated one out of every four children in California is directly exposed to violence as a victim or witness. In 2002, over seven-hundred thousand children were referred for investigation for child abuse and neglect.
Children exposed to violence and maltreatment suffer increased depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, anger, alcohol and drug abuse and lower academic achievement. New scientific research is uncovering the physiological impact of violence on the developing human brain and the long-term consequences of this exposure. Studies show that children exposed to violence, either as victims or witnesses, are more likely to become juvenile and adult offenders.
Childhood abuse and neglect increase the odds of arrest as a juvenile by 59 percent, arrest as an adult by 28 percent, and arrest for a violent crime by 30 percent. California has the highest rate of juvenile incarceration in the country.
EXCERPT from Darkness Overturned, Chapter One:
And so a cavity of spirit began to form deep within my heart. Coupled with the horrible fear I had of my father, it was as if the little boat of my budding personhood was set adrift on a large, uncharted sea, a crumpled and threadbare teddy my only companion. And I didn’t want the teddy.
What becomes of little girls and boys whose lives are so conceived and thwarted? How many derelicts could trace, if they were able, their destitution and despondency to those tender, early years of character formation? How many marriages go awry because of leftover, unresolved debits carried into adulthood like hobo packs on a stick from childhood?
At the insistence of readers and friends . . .
I am resurrecting my book under the title Darkness Overturned. Two readers, who wish to remain anonymous, wrote about the help they found in reading my story:
“I finally let myself read EsthersChild’s book … Like many other things, I guess I was afraid it might bring me back to life ... [but now] I don’t feel so alone anymore.”
“This book came along at a good time … just when the shadows were falling once again. I was reminded by EsthersChild that there is hope for entire healing, for complete victory.”
Feeling alone and ashamed, children who are victims of domestic violence are held captive to their pain for years – even a lifetime, It is my hope and prayer that Darkness Overturned will help those who have experienced abuse to discover that they do not need to continue to relive their pain or carry their story, their undeserved shame, consciously with them forever. Though intrinsically a part of them, they are free to unbuckle their seatbelts and move about life uninhibited.
My life is living proof that the seemingly impenetrable darkness and subsequent hopelessness that may surround your life can give way to hope, freedom, joy, spontaneity, achievement and peace.