Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Bares Voice Of A Healed Soul

Interview With Jenny Lynn Anderson , Author of Room 939

Jenny Lynn Anderson, married and in her 20’s, was on a business trip in Atlanta back in 1990. She was sexually assaulted in a hotel room. For years she battled with PTSD and anger, fear, guilt and all of the emotions that ensnare one who had her world turned upside down.  It has taken her two decades to reveal her moving story of how she has found a way to heal from her personal tragedy. She wants to help other women who have suffered in silence. She is also helping to educate women on how they can avoid being a crime victim. The sexual victims advocate shares her moving story below:

1.      Jenny Lynn, you wrote a book about coming back from being a survivor of a sexual assault and robbery that took place in 1990 while you were in Atlanta for a business trip. Was the writing of Room 939 a cathartic experience?  Interestingly, it took me 59 days to complete the first draft.  It was if someone opened the spigot and the story started flowing out of me.  It has been cathartic in that I released every memory I had of this incident.  I didn’t hold back. It would not stop.  I wrote everywhere…at my computer, on my laptop, on napkins, little scraps of paper, at church while sitting in the pew, even in the palm of my hand if an important detail stood out and I didn’t want to forget it.  In the very beginning, it came out in large chunks.  I have never written a book so I have to admit I did not know what I was doing.  However, I had my editor, Ric Mandes, encouraging me.  He instructed me to complete the table of contents, which only took about 30 minutes. I seemed to know the chapter titles instinctively as if I had contemplated writing this book for years.  But that was not the case at all.  I had never considered writing about this. I actually wrote the last chapter of the book first, moved to the beginning of the book next. I had completed two-thirds of the book in no time. I sent the chapters via email to Ric and his positive comments reassured me.

2.      What were the pitfalls and challenges to writing about something that so deeply touches your soul?  I knew writing the middle part of the book would be most daunting.  It included the darkest years of my life and I wasn’t sure if I could dig deep enough to pull out the emotions I had stuffed so deep inside my soul.  I told my husband Mark I was going to Tybee to our beach house alone and write this difficult part of the book.  I went there on Jan. 9th, 2011.  It was freezing cold and the northeastern winds howled.  The grey, dark days matched the backdrop of those chapters.  I took a few clothes, my Bible, devotional book and every Bible study guide I had ever completed.  I literally wrote day and night, did not eat much, drink much. I had about six grapefruits a friend had picked from her tree on Tybee and would eat those when I was really hungry during the day.  I would finally go out at about 7 pm each evening and get a bite to eat.  I talked to no one on the Island.  I was focused and spoke to Mark once a day and other than that I stayed in complete solitude.  I wrote in my den of the beach house. I spent hours lying on the floor in front of the fireplace with the laptop.  My body would begin aching so I would move to the sofa.  I dragged that tiny laptop all over the house.  I cried and wept and listened to music.  I have never felt such pain in my whole life.   I stayed six days and returned looking like I had been in a concentration camp.  But I had finished writing the middle part of the book.  A few days later I landed in the emergency room at midnight with a kidney stone due to my lack of fluids while at the beach.

3.      What do you wish to accomplish with this book?  Through my releasing every detail of my sexual assault and its aftermath, I can show others how my life spiraled out of control for a very long time.  We remain imprisoned by the silence surrounding rape and sexual assault.  For almost 20 years I was held in bondage by the invader who sexually assaulted me.  I decided the only way I could get rid of the shackles keeping me imprisoned was to unleash this story buried deep within my soul.  Through writing this book, I have found my voice again.  I refuse to move into the next 20 years suffering the way I have since 1990.  No woman should live in this kind of bondage.  By writing this book, I am removing the chains finally and saying, “I am not going to let the man who attacked keep me bound to him the rest of my life.”  Writing this book was the only way I knew to accomplish that. When Ric and I gave the final manuscript to my mother and husband to read over the July 4th weekend, 2011, it was the most liberating feeling.  I felt like a cleansing in the highest degree had occurred and I was finally beginning a new chapter of healing.  It’s been a painful and very personal story to share, but there’s great healing when you express the truth.

4.      How might telling your story help others?  Some may think this book is geared to females who have survived rape and sexual assault, but actually it’s for anyone who has ever questioned why there is pain and suffering in life.  The book will help the person who has wondered, “Why me, God?”  It’s for the father who gets the phone call in the middle of the night hearing the news his son has been in a tragic accident.  It’s for the woman who gets the message from her doctor about a malignant tumor.  It’s for anyone who has gone through an experience where an unexpected turn of events sets their world into a tailspin.  I feel I have climbed out of the abyss as a stronger person…one who now can share this story desiring to help others who hurt as well. I want ROOM 939 to be a lifelong catalyst for me to be a resource and speaker for seminars, workshops and speaking engagements on topics such as molestation, fear, faith, doubt, recovery, healing, overcoming challenges. However, for the woman who has been through a sexual assault, my book will be an affirmation to them that they are not alone.  My greatest hope is that my book will be a catalyst for them to get well and find restoration.   

5.      What words of encouragement would you share with others who are victims of a crime, but out of fear or guilt or depression, have been unwilling or unable to speak out?  I remind women it was not their fault.  I remind them they were going about their lives in a positive way until this happened. I then try to open up so much that they cannot help to feel empowered.  I tell them details of my life that are hard to fathom.  I try to be so candid and honest so that they cannot help but to see that I, too, have suffered everything they may be experiencing.  I talk about blaming God, and hating God for letting it happen.  I talk about how the man did not kill me, but he did something just as bad -- he hijacked my soul.  I lay my entire life out in front of them in hopes it might be powerful enough that they can say, “Well, if Jenny Lynn can find the courage to tell the ugly atrocities of her life, I can do it too.”  In my opinion, it is in this release that a woman (or man) can truly start the healing journey.

6.      What helped you to recover from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? My finally going to a licensed psychologist did it.  Dr. Ellen Emerson worked with me for 14 weeks intensively and used cognitive therapy – which is very effective in treating post traumatic stress, but many survivors are never introduced to it.  If it worked on my extreme case of PTSD, it can work on others.  I want to spread that message!

7.      How can society prevent similar tragedies from happening? Three words:  Educate.  Inform. Enlighten.  We must continue the dialogue about this societal issue no one wants to face.  I would like to partner with a national organization and create a public relations campaign called, “Let’s Face It!”  1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted. I wish to be the “face,” the visual representation of rape and sexual assault. There is still a stigma in our society that women who get raped “deserved it” somehow by how they “looked” at the time of the attack.  Many people have asked what I was wearing, or if there anything I did to provoke this.  With this, I envision putting my face on a huge grid.  As this online campaign unfolds, we would allow others to add their faces to empower them to speak up, speak out and release the truth. The sheer size of this visual campaign would be unbelievable and powerful. I get a sense the “link” of all of us survivors does not yet exist here in USA.  We need a way to empower each other as a group of survivors and be PROUD we lived through these ordeals and did not lose our lives.  It takes guts for the first person to stand up and be judged (ME).  But the followers after me in this campaign will find courage in seeing other women’s faces.  I often think how well breast cancer survivors have come together in pink to empower each other.  I dream of this for all of us sexual assault survivors.    

8.      Why do you think men use sex as a weapon against women? Sexual violence has to do with men who have NO respect for women.  It’s about control and power.

9.      Are you surprised to learn of all the sacrifices and extra steps your husband had taken in order to accommodate your recovery over the years?  As I look back at it, yes.  Mark and I were only 27 when this happened and four years into our marriage.  We were still quite young and he had to adjust his lifestyle dramatically to come to my aid when I experienced PTSD.  Therefore, he was selfless in many ways because he constantly had to be my protector.  Nights were particularly hard and it was not uncommon for him to be in his pajama pants out in the middle of the yard at 3:00 a.m. with a shotgun.  He did everything to convince me the man was not going to come back and hurt me again.  I believe most men would have divorced me because it was all so difficult. But Mark was very committed and he loved me despite the difficult circumstances.

10.  How did you come to forgive your attacker? What would you say to him if the police ever found him? Forgiveness came at year nine in the journey.  It was not something I had ever planned to do.  I really thought I would go to my grave hating and despising this man.  For nine long years, I did battle with the man in my mind.  I hated him.  I detested him.  I felt like he had killed my spirit and I wanted revenge. But, in 1999, I was involved in a Beth Moore Bible Study which profoundly helped me and set me on a new course.  Beth Moore wrote, “A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for her.  She also said, “You are not defined by anything that happened to you or anything you have done.  You are defined by who you are in Christ.”  If the police could find him today (which I still want to happen), I would like to meet the man face to face and talk to him.  I am no longer afraid of him.  I would like to know what happened in his childhood that caused him to want to do this to another human being.  I would like for him to read my book and know how his actions impacted my life and how I lost trust in the world because of what he did to me.  I had always had trust in the world and believed the world was “good.”  I lost that belief in Room 939. 

11.  What role did religion and faith play in your healing process? It was paramount. In the early years of recovery, I was a new Christian and it took me a very long time to figure out what God was all about.  But as I grew as a student of the bible, I started to have a real relationship with God and it was God only who could quiet my fears, even if for a few minutes, in those early years.  I found protection in God.  I found quietness and calm in God (which I really needed) because with post traumatic stress, your mind cannot be “still” because you are in a constant, vigilant state of being on guard.  I received courage from God and a conviction to share my story which aided in my restoration.  I truly believe healing would never occurred for me with my faith. 

12.  How has society changed in its attitudes toward sex crimes over the past two decades?  We have so far to go!   Just recently a young woman whom I met at a Survivor’s Conference shared with me the story of her assault.  She was raped by a fellow college student and the college administrators have done very little to help her.  In fact, they have all but turned their back on her and did not dismiss the young man from this particular college in Georgia. But, this young lady is FIGHTING for what she knows is right.  She has gone to the Board of Regents and I have tried to support her because I understand how hard it is to do what she is attempting as a 19-year-old collegiate.  It takes courage to stand up.  Our society tolerates sex crimes and it sickens me.  My greatest desire is to be used as an instrument for change.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. Jenny Anderson is a client of Media Connect. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.