In this inspiring memoir, Aspen chronicles her journey, a five-month trek that was ambitious, dangerous, and transformative. A nineteen-year-old girl alone and lost, she conquered desolate mountain passes and met rattlesnakes, bears, and fellow desert pilgrims. Exhausted after each thirty-mile day, at times on the verge of starvation, Aspen was forced to confront her numbness, coming to terms with the sexual assault and her parents' disappointing reaction. On the trail and on her own, she found that survival is predicated on persistent self-reliance. She found her strength. After a thousand miles of solitude, she found a man who helped her learn to love and trust again—and heal.
Told with elegance and suspense, Girl in the Woods is a beautifully rendered story of eroding emotional and physical boundaries to reveal the truths that lie beyond the edges of the map.
Aspen Matis is a writer living in Greenwich Village, where she's finishing her degree at The New School and working on a novel.
At first Lisa's step-father would just make her stroke and massage his feet, hitting her if she stopped, but he soon wanted more. Much more. By the time she was 12 he was regularly abusing her. One day, when Lisa turned 16, she came home to discover that her mother had swapped bedrooms with her. 'You're my girlfriend now', her step-father told her. Lisa turned to her mother for help, but was met with a shrug. She wouldn't hear a word against her husband. 'Don't blame me,' she said. Her step-father's abuse was horrific but what completely tore her apart was knowing her mother knew and encouraged it.
Trapped and increasingly desperate, Lisa tried to find a way out. But her isolation was complete. A few months later her mother told her she'd arranged for Lisa and her step-father to move into a flat together down the road. It was too much for Lisa to bear. 'Please don't make me, please,' she sobbed. But her mother just ignored her. Lisa was marched around to the flat with her possessions and her nightmare was complete.
Alone with her step-father, Lisa's life became even more unbearable. Then one day, finally, she got the chance she'd been looking for to escape. Lisa bravely struck out on her own, petrified her mother would find her and hand her back into the waiting arms of her step-father. But Lisa's mother had no idea how determined she was to break away...
From as early as three years old, Juliana, Celeste and Kristina were treated as sexual beings by their 'guardians' in the infamous religious cult known as the Children of God. They were made to watch and mimic orgies, received love letters and sexual advances from men old enough to be their grandfather, and were forced into abusive relationships. They were denied access to formal schooling, had to wander the streets begging for money, and were mercilessly beaten for 'crimes' as unpredictable as reading an encyclopaedia.
Finally, unable to live with the guilt of what had happened to her children, their mother escaped with Kristina, cutting herself off from her remaining children in a bid to save at least one child. Desperate to save her sisters, Kristina eventually returned to the place of her torture to free Celeste. Years later, Juliana found the courage to escape, knowing that the child she was carrying would be subjected to the same fate if she did not.
Now the three sisters have finally come together to reveal in full and horrific detail their existence within the Children of God cult. Their stories reveal a community spread throughout the world and its legacy of anorexia, depression, drug abuse, suicide and even murder. Lives are ripped apart and painstakingly mended with a shared strength that finally enabled the sisters to free themselves from the shadows of their past.
Cathy, an experienced foster carer, is pressured into taking Jodie as a new placement. Jodie's challenging behaviour has seen off five carers in four months but Cathy decides to take her on to protect her from being placed in an institution.
Jodie arrives, and her first act is to soil herself, and then wipe it on her face, grinning wickedly. Jodie meets Cathy's teenage children, and greets them with a sharp kick to the shins. That night, Cathy finds Jodie covered in blood, having cut her own wrist, and smeared the blood over her face.
As Jodie begins to trust Cathy her behaviour improves. Over time, with childish honesty, she reveals details of her abuse at the hands of her parents and others. It becomes clear that Jodie's parents were involved in a sickening paedophile ring, with neighbours and Social Services not seeing what should have been obvious signs.
It’s clear that Josie needs psychiatric therapy, but instead Social Services take Jodie away from her, and place her in a residential unit. Although the paedophile ring is investigated and brought to justice, Jodie’s future is still up in the air. Cathy promises that she will stand by her no matter what – her love for the abandoned Jodie is unbreakable.
This is the shocking true story of how a young girl from Rochdale came to be Girl A – the key witness in the trial of Britain’s most notorious child sex ring.
Girl A was just 14 when she was groomed by a group of nine Asian men. After being lured into their circle with free gifts, she was plied with alcohol and systematically abused. She was just one of up to fifty girls to be 'passed around' by the gang. The girls were all under-16 and forced to have sex with as many as twenty men in one night.
When details emerged a nation was outraged and asked how these sickening events came to pass. And now, the girl at the very centre of the storm reveals the heartbreaking truth.