Silenced by Vicky Jaggers

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Silenced by Vicky Jaggers

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Category: Autobiography
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Vicky Jaggers was raped by her brother when she was twelve and only found to be pregnant some six months later. Her story is a salutory lesson about the importance of education and listening to what children have to tell us.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0340976777

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Vicky Jaggers had a dreadful childhood. One sister was in a home following an accident which made her violent and her elder brother, David, was obviously her mother's favourite. He was very intelligent, but disliking any sort of work his abilities were directed towards getting what he wanted without making any effort. The family moved house regularly as Vicky's father looked for work and schooling soon became an option which wasn't always chosen. Sexually mature at the age of nine and looking much older than her years she took to spending much of her time in the pubs her parents ran and it was whilst her parents were serving in the bar that David raped her – on three successive nights – when she was only twelve. Her pregnancy wasn't evident for six months.

This isn't a story to enjoy and it was far too much of a misery memoir for my tastes but it does have some unusual merits. Vicky can barely read or write and her story has been told to us through the assistance of Helen Roberts. It's a mistake to dismiss the book as coming from someone who has written more books than she's read as there are few chances to gain such an insight into the life of someone who was deprived in childhood and to see the effect that this has on her adult life and even on the lives of her children.

On the face of it there was little reason to suspect that the family would go quite so dramatically off the rails. Vicky's father was obviously devoted to her and seemed to have a work ethic even if he wasn't able to hold a job for very long. Her mother was not totally uncaring, but her affections were obviously held by David and she was blind to his faults - even after he killed his girlfriend. By her own standards she did her best by the children, cooking meals for them and their friends and working hard. The parents were not violent towards the children; they were fed and clothed, even entertained and taken on holiday.

But they didn't listen to Vicky and look to her welfare. They certainly took little or no action to ensure that she had an education to even the most basic standards. They produced a child with little will of her own whose only aim in life seemed to be to produce more children.

There's a valuable insight into how a young girl feels in this situation – including the taunts from people who should know better – and an indication of how easy it is for them to go off the rails – to fall into drug and alcohol use and to feel that sex is all that they have to offer. Vicky is fortunate to have met a man who can give her and her children the support that they need, but it could so easily have turned out otherwise. I frequently found myself getting annoyed with Vicky, unable to understand why, throughout her life she seemed unable to take positive action to deal with her problems, or extend much in the way of care to others, but then she is the product of her upbringing.

The book is factual and if you're looking for titillation then you're in the wrong place. It's best read as a dire warning of what can happen if we don't give thought to our children's education and emotional welfare.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

For more similar problems occurring within families you might like to read How Could He Do It? by Emma Charles.

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