Shortly after his mother's death, Carter obtains her psychiatric records to learn more about the extent of her struggles. He always knew she was plagued by mental illness, but because of their limited relationship, he never truly understood its severity. In addition to revealing that she was a paranoid schizophrenic, the records contain shocking secrets from his past of which he has little or no recollection. Carter learns the revolting details of how his mother attempted to strangle him to death when he was just a toddler and her numerous suicide attempts. As he uncovers these horrific details, Carter awakens memories of unspeakable acts that he suffered at her hands.
From a childhood of sexual and physical abuse to a meaningful career attending social events at the White House and interviewing Nelson Mandela, No Momma's Boy recounts Carter's tremendous highs and lows and how he survived to become the successful journalist that he is today.
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From the New York Daily News, April 22, 2007
Dominic Carter, a high-profile journalist who once interviewed Nelson Mandela and now commands attention as the host of Inside City Hall on NewYork1, has spent his life hiding a painful childhood secret.
One night, when Carter was about 7, his mentally ill mother, Laverne, ordered him to climb into her bed. Then, in a voice no louder than a whisper, she told him to take off his clothes.
She sexually assaulted him.
In a memoir titled No Momma's Boy: How I Let Go of My Past and Embraced the Future, Carter candidly recounts the sexual and physical abuse of his childhood and chronicles his journey from Bronx housing projects to the upper echelons of New York journalism.
After his mother died in January 2001, Carter, who had been shielded by family members from the details of her mental illness, decided to do what reporters do -- report. He delved into her past and found the medical records that would unlock the secrets of his mother's life and ultimately help him heal his own.
From the scrawled penmanship of psychiatrists and social workers, Carter learned that his mother had been diagnosed as a chronic paranoid schizophrenic, that her first sexual experiences occurred at an early age with two uncles, and that she got electroshock therapy as a teen.
He discovered from the records that she beat him and nearly strangled him when he was an infant. One record showed she harbored thoughts of pushing Carter out a window. She heard a voice tell her, "Do it."
In his book, which Carter plans to self-publish next month, he recounts many of the troubles of his childhood -- a father he never knew, a grandfather who once took him to a drug den -- but he also tells of the unconditional love and support he received from his grandmother and his aunt, two women who always treated him like a prince.
Carter's aunt, Inez Carter, told the Daily News she was apprehensive about his making the family's secrets public.
"But the more I thought about it, you can't hide the truth," she said.
Steve Paulus, senior vice president at NY1, described Carter's decision to go public as "courageous."
Carter, 42, who is married with two children, said he plans to try to help others cope with the horrible memories of child sexual abuse. He called writing his memoir therapeutic.
"It's been helpful to the degree that it's given me courage to stand up and say, 'Dominic, you did nothing wrong. You don't have to hide anymore. It's okay. You don't have to spend the rest of your life as a prisoner within your own mind having this dark secret,' " he said.
"I feel free," he said. "For the first time in my life, I feel free."
From the New York Post, June 10, 2007
As understatements go, the title of NY1 political reporter Dominic Carter's new memoir is a whopper: No Momma's Boy.
When Carter was a young child, his mentally ill mother tried to strangle him. She also confessed to psychiatric workers that she heard voices telling her to throw him out a window. And perhaps most disturbing of all, she once softly commanded her son to climb into bed with her and strip off his pajamas.
"Mommy's breath was hot when she kissed me," Carter writes of that night when he was 7 years old. "My mother had never kissed me on my cheek, and now she was kissing me on my mouth. Was she finally making up for lost time? I was drowning in her sick world."
The host of Inside City Hall, now 43, has secretly lived with the memories of his horrific childhood for nearly four decades, but he's now coming clean in his new book, subtitled "How I Let Go of My Past and Embraced the Future."
"For children and people that have been sexually abused, you often keep it in the back of your mind and you don't discuss it with anyone," Carter says. "That's what happened to me my entire life. I've always had this tremendous issue that was almost haunting my soul."
Carter says he's been working on the book for about five years, and that the first drafts made no mention of the abuse. The book was initially meant to be a feel-good memoir about how he overcame a poverty-stricken childhood in the projects to become one of the city's top political journalists. As he wrote, however, he began to feel that including all the details of his childhood were necessary.
"I tossed it around in my mind for a couple of months. I was scared. I wasn't sure what would happen," he says. "Then I said to myself, 'You're not being fully truthful here.' So I built the courage up. It took a while, but I finally included the child sexual abuse."
Laverne Carter died in 2001, triggering in the newsman a bout of depression that had him wondering if he could carry on as a journalist. "Viewers who watched the show every night had no idea of my mental anguish," he writes. "I tried to sugarcoat my breakdown, but . . . I would have no other choice but to tell a handful of my colleagues the embarrassing details."
Carter regained his bearing just as the election season began in earnest, only to join the rest of New York in shock over 9/11. A few years later, he began researching his mother's life - and got what he calls the "shock of his life." He retrieved medical documents from mental facilities across the country, and it was only then that Carter began to understand the full scope of his mother's illness.
"It was almost like someone punched me extremely hard in my chest," he says. "I knew growing up that there were some issues involving mental illness, but I was a little kid, I didn't know exactly what those issues were. My mother would never discuss her illness her entire life. Then I read firsthand that she tried to strangle me when I was 2, she heard voices telling her to throw me out the window.
"All my life, I greatly resented my mother, because I didn't know what had happened in her life until after she was deceased. All I knew was that my mother was never there for me. Never," Carter says. "When I found out what she went through, man! She received electrical shock, straitjackets, and she had an awful time of life. I had to forgive her. It was the right thing to do. It wasn't her fault."
After completing his manuscript, Carter shopped it to editors but ultimately decided to self-publish, selling the book at his Web site, nomommasboy.com, as well as Barnes & Noble and amazon.com.
"I pushed it to one or two publishers, and frankly, I didn't like what they were saying. They were saying things like, 'We want you to change the title. Let's make it more sensational.' Those were things I was very uncomfortable with," he says.
"Self-publishing allowed me to control the message: the good, the bad and the ugly. I didn't want to improve or embellish the story. I just want the truth to go out." --Reed Tucker
From New York Magazine, April 23, 2007
Shortly after his mother�s death six years ago, journeyman political reporter and host of NY1�s Inside City Hall Dominic Carter did what journalists do: He requested the documents. Her 620-page medical report detailed to him the extent of her lifelong struggle with paranoid schizophrenia, which he hadn�t known about. Putting it all together, he decided to write a book, No Momma�s Boy, which he�s self-publishing in early May. He spoke to Mary Burke.
What was it like to read your mother�s records?
It was almost like I got hit with a double-barrel shotgun. I really had no idea. I was embarrassed when I saw in plain black and white that my mother tried to choke me to death and that she thought about throwing me out a window. That she sexually abused me. I had hid all of this stuff in the back of my mind, and I was only fooling myself.
You confronted her once, without knowing her history of mental illness. Were you upset she didn�t apologize?
I think she didn�t apologize because she was so embarrassed. I think she knew deep in her heart that it happened. What do you say to your child who�s now a grown man, a success, the first one in your family to go to college? What do you say? Maybe I shouldn�t have confronted her, but I had finally had it with my wife and mother-in-law trying to push a relationship. They didn�t understand. I think my wife almost didn�t believe me. It�s so disgusting, you know, I think my wife, she didn�t believe me.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Dominic Carter is very brave to share such a personal, sensitive account. I applaud him in that regard. Mothers are very intricate parts of our lives. They teach us mostly everything that we need to learn about life. They are the epitome of love and nurturing. Strong, stable mothers give us strength in return. However, Mr. Carter expresses quite vividly the lack of positive influence his mother provided him. As I read about his childhood pain and struggle for her love I was brought to tears. It is tragic when children don't receive what they need. However, what touched me the most was Mr. Carter's ability to look beyond his mother's mental illness and shortcomings and find a way to view her differently, at least for his peace of mind. When we are hurt by the person who should love us the most it is quite a challenge to work through that. In fact, it's a tall order to fill. I commend Mr. Carter for his large heart.
I've finally read this book and can only say that every Afican-American boy and girl should have this book in their personal library. This book is real and to the heart. I've always wished this individual the best luck in his carrer. It's just that in today's world'2008' you still have these events happpening and no one to help those going through it.
NY1's top reporter/political analyst gives a painful recollection of his childhood with a schizophrenic mother and how he was able to overcome it to become successful, careerwise and personally. I thought his wiriting was sincere, not showy, and gave insights into the people and institutions that influence him in a positive way. An interesting read.
In this memoir, Dominic Carter shares his life in a most courageous, brutally honest manner. He makes no apology for being proud of his accomplishments, yet manages to graciously share the credit with the few positive forces in his life. He tells a tragic story of a mostly nightmarish childhood. This memoir is both depressing and hopeful at the same time. Reading of the horrors Mr. Carter endured, one has to wonder how he was able to find so much good in the world, and make a name for himself where most of his colleagues had far more advantage in their early lives. This is a book about sadness,fear, love, hope, and not taking our gifts for granted.