In My Father’s Arms: A Son’s Story of Sexual Abuse

Front Cover
University of Wisconsin Press, Aug 26, 1999 - Biography & Autobiography - 133 pages
first paperback edition:

To the outside world, Walter de Milly's father was a prominent businessman, a dignified Presbyterian, and a faithful husband; to Walter, he was an overwhelming, handsome monster. This paperback edition of In My Father's Arms: A Son's Story of Sexual Abuse adds a reflective preface by the author and a foreword by Richard B. Gartner, author of Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life after Boyhood Sexual Abuse.

"A sensitive and compelling account of father-son incest. In spite of the suffering portrayed, the account also gives testimony to the strength of family bonds, and to the courage and resilience of the human spirit."—Fred S. Berlin, MD, Director of the National Institute for the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Trauma

"This is the most detailed and utterly plausible account I've ever read of what it feels like to be an abused child, and it is told with cinematic presence and verisimilitude. The anger, the love, the evasiveness and jealousy and confusion, the need to dissociate oneself from one's own actions and reactions—all are presented in a harrowing narrative, which is as tragic as a Greek drama and as engrossing as a Victorian novel. The unexpected element in this book—which falls on it like manna—is its nourishing, exquisite lyricism."—Edmund White, author of A Boy's Own Story

cloth:

"Walter de Milly has written a sensitive and compelling account of father-son incest. In spite of the suffering portrayed, the account also gives testimony to the strength of family bonds, and to the courage and resilience of the human spirit."—Fred S. Berlin, M.D., Director of the National Institute for the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Trauma

"This is the most detailed and utterly plausible account I've ever read of what it feels like to be an abused child, and it is told with cinematic presence and verisimilitude. The anger, the love, the evasiveness and jealousy and confusion, the need to dissociate oneself from one's own actions and reactions—all are presented in a harrowing narrative, which is as tragic as a Greek drama and as engrossing as a Victorian novel. The unexpected element in this book—which falls on it like manna—is its nourishing, exquisite lyricism."—Edmund White

The TV-perfect family of Walter de Milly III was like many others in the American South of the 1950s—seemingly close-knit, solidly respectable, and active in the community.

Tragically, Walter's deeply troubled father would launch his family on a perilous journey into darkness. To the outside world, this man is a prominent businessman, a dignified Presbyterian, and a faithful husband; to Walter, he is an overwhelming, handsome monster. Whenever the two are together, young Walter becomes a sexual plaything for his father; father and son outings are turned into soul-obliterating nightmares.

Walter eventually becomes a successful businessman only to be stricken by another catastrophe: his father, at the age of seventy, is caught molesting a young boy. Walter is asked to confront his father. Walter convenes his family, and in a private conference with a psychiatrist, the father agrees to be surgically castrated.

De Milly's portraits of his relationships with his father and mother, and the confrontation that leads to his father's bizarre and irreversible voluntary "cure," are certain to be remembered long after the reader has set aside this powerful contribution to the literature of incest survival.

Walter de Milly is a writer living in Key West, Florida.

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IN MY FATHER'S ARMS: A True Story of Incest

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One man's horrific memoir of sexual abuse at the hands of his all-American father. The book opens in Tallahassee, Fla., just after the Cuban missile crisis. Nine-year-old Walter de Milly is awakened ... Read full review

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About the author (1999)

Walter A. de Milly III lives in Key West, Florida. He has been a victim advocate at a domestic abuse shelter, served on the board of the national organization MaleSurvivor, and worked with the UNESCO Committee on the Rights of the Child.

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