Brave and Unbroken
The True Story of Survival After Incest and Loss
Image: Brave and Unbroken
Brave and Unbroken is, without a doubt, a heart-rending tale of betrayal and loss. Betrayal by a manipulative, controlling and evil father who abused his children from birth and raped his daughter throughout her childhood and teenage years. Loss of a warm and loving mother to the ravages of stage 4 cancer and the effects of the treatment she undergoes to fight the disease.
Pennie Saum is a fighter and a survivor, but no longer a victim. She took on the self-imposed responsibility of, she thought, saving her mother and younger brother from suffering worse than the violence her father practiced on them, only to find her sacrifice was only inside her head. When it came to light he abused her brother they finally, as a family, took action. Her father, a Vet and a “hero”, was sentenced to 17 years for child abuse and her brother awarded $5million in damages. But while she escaped his physical threat, the emotional and physiological scars of such horrendous abuse aren’t removed so easily.
Her mother’s diagnosis for stage IV throat cancer, after a lifetime of smoking and quite possibly suffering asbestos poisoning, is another level of cruelty to a family who have suffered so much, and her mother’s valiant and incredibly painful battle to survive, to stay with her children and beloved grandchildren is a painful read both for those who have lived through losing a loved one, and those who dread such a diagnosis.
It’s a hard read. The anguish of her mother’s slow deterioration interspersed with the flashbacks to her childhood torment and her current emotional turmoil aren’t comfortable on any level. The stories told by Pennie Saum and transcribed by Cat Caperello, are those of physical abuse and emotional torture; knowing when and where and how it would happen, waiting for it to happen… a theme of both her childhood abuse and her mother’s decline.
But ultimately what we must take from the whole is the strength of this women to stand up and be counted, to lead from the front the millions of voices shouting #MeToo. She is a campaigner and speaker, she gives voice to the darkest of human behaviours, and hopefully throws light into those dark places.
Buy the book on Amazon.