Eleanor Cowan is a Canadian teacher, writer and life skills educator.
A History of a Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writerby Eleanor Cowan
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“How could a mother not know?” This is a question often asked about families where incest has occurred, and Eleanor Cowan’s gripping memoir, A History of a Pedophile’s Wife, steps up with answers that are courageous and heartbreaking. Cowan grew up in Quebec in the 1950s, in a large Roman Catholic family with a lethal mix of violence, addiction, and toxic pedagogy. Cowan details the dance of a survivor moving into adulthood: one step forward towards freedom, two steps back into conditioning, until a tipping point of consciousness is reached. As her memoir makes clear, that tipping point is not just a critical mass of abuse or even a touchstone of personal growth. It requires an enlarged and feminist context, permission to know the unknowable, and language to name the unspeakable.
Cowan’s book is a primer in compassion, especially for those of us who were abused as children and left to struggle with legacies of distrust and rage towards our mothers. It’s a vivid indictment of a mother-blaming culture that protects the very institutions that perpetuate child abuse.
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A History of a Pedophile's Wife is a riveting read. In fact, I devoured it in 2 sittings. Not only does Eleanor Cowan answer that age old question, " Where was the mother when all this was happening?", she does so with exquisite eloquence. Just facing up to the horror of her realization was courageous enough in itself. Then she found the inner strength to embark on the long, and fairly uncharted, road to recovery for herself, and for her family. Now she has gone the extra mile, and bravely and candidly shared her story. This is an extremely powerful example for those in the same situation. It also sheds an invaluable light for all of us on this still very taboo subject, and on the individuals caught up in it. To me this is nothing short of heroic. Brava Eleanor Cowan! And thank you.