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Book Review: We Have Come Far

We Have Come Far: Shared Wisdom from Survivors of Extreme Trauma
Ani Rose Whaleswan, Editor
Sojourn Press, 2014
View or buy on Amazon (UK)
View or buy on Amazon (USA)
Review by Jean Riseman


This summer brings us three important books — a cornucopia of information and support, more than we have had in the whole past year.

As far as I know, this is the only anthology of writing about healing by survivors and only the second anthology of survivor writings, period. The first one came out in 1995. Can you imagine! There had been nothing for almost twenty years and then somebody saw the need, responded to it, and invited others to respond to it. Hooray!

Ani Rose sees the book as a collective endeavor and honors each person’s point of view and voice. She doesn’t footnote, explain, or change wording, she just lets each person’s wisdom shine in words that come straight from the heart. Although the stories and poems and styles are very different, all twenty-one chapters have truth, hope, and courage in common. Each is inspiring.

You may recognize some of the names: among them are Wanda Karriker, Lynn Schirmer, Alikina, Janet Thomas, Ani Rose Whaleswan and Jean Riseman. Others will be new to you. You will find that they have every bit as much to say as the more well-known authors. Many of the entries are full of ideas I never thought of. Many are intensely spiritual and brought me to the verge of tears. All of them touched me deeply and will stay with me for a long, long time.

I’ll end by quoting from Ani Rose’s introduction.

We have come far, and we will continue on – as we always have. May the real life experiences here inspire you with the knowledge that you are not alone as a survivor or a professional or a friend, and encourage you to continue on, to share your own stories when and where you can, to educate, to whistleblow and advocate safely, and to always remember that we are always stronger – and we are stronger together. A braver, kinder world is possible, and we are helping to create it, globally.

It is when we connect that we are strongest. Abuse is always about isolation, about power-over, about difference. But life itself, and living it fully (perhaps the best definition of “healing”) is about connection, power-with and what we all have in common.”

May you never again believe that you are alone.