This is not a book review, but my reflections from a recently read book, Elephant Girl. An intense and disturbing memoir of Jane Devin, it highlights how abuse – verbal, physical and sexual – suffered as a child has consequences that last a lifetime.
Let me share some parts of the introduction to Elephant Girl with you. Apparently, in Thailand, the practice of breaking an elephant’s spirit is called phajaan, also known as “The Breaking Ceremony”. Young elephants a, preferably female, are separated from their herd and corralled in a tight enclosure where movement is restricted. She is deprived of food and water for several days and beaten with ropes and hooks and forced to take men on her back. The idea is to force the elephant to fear her keepers. The torture continues, even when she is eventually let out of the enclosure. If she survives she is sold to perform tricks. Every once in a while an elephant escapes, often with disastrous consequences. However, rarely, a true escape is possible.
Devin likens her own childhood to a phajaan. Here in her words:
Sometimes, though, a true escape is possible. In my eyes, I see fields of green and a bright yellow sun. There are no chains to bind my feet and no ropes to tie me down. All the scars that I have close themselves, fading into memories that will grow more distant with every night that I will sleep, free, under a gently lit moon.
I was born a human being but became an elephant girl, and this is just one of my many, many dreams.
I would invite you to read Jane Devin’s post ‘In Praise of the Elephant Girls’ on her blog.
April is Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month. No child should go through what Jane Devin and what millions of other children go through. We need to add our voices to this initiative. Together we can prevent the abuse of children. Let us work together to stop it now!
Today we’re on E of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.