Category Archives: Sexual Abuse

The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #63

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The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #63 | Dr. Alexandria Szeman 8 January 2023

My little Saschie. She doesn’t want me to take down the Christmas lights.

 


Mindfulness

A Journaling Practice to Help You Let Go of Limiting Habits | Mindful

Instead of judging yourself for what you want or what you’re feeling, explore these writing prompts to help you turn toward your experience with greater understanding and self-compassion. Encountering the people, places, and things that activate us out in the real world can feel like too much…


Migraine

Relief from Chronic Migraine: Medications and Other Treatments

Chronic migraine is defined as a migraine headache that occurs 15 or more days a month, for at least three months. Episodes often last four hours or more. Finding relief from chronic migraine symptoms can be difficult. Explore multiple treatment options here.


Trauma and Sexual Abuse

New longitudinal research highlights how grave the effects of childhood trauma can be for anxiety and depression | Psychology Post

Childhood trauma is well-known to have adverse effects on mental health into adulthood, but the nuances of these outcomes are not well understood. A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders explores how childhood trauma impacts specific aspects of depression and anxiety over time. …

RAINN Online Hotline

Do you need help dealing with sexual assault, rape, or incest? Call @RAINN ‘s Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673) to talk to a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. Don’t feel comfortable talking? Use chat/text instead.


Mental Health

How to Use Journaling to Cope With PTSD | VeryWellMind

Some psychotherapists are now recommending journaling, also called expressive writing, to help people cope with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you have PTSD, here’s how journaling can help, as well as how to do it. Journaling is one method of helping people cope…

Minimalism and Hygge: How to Make Your Home Cosy Without Adding Clutter | BalanceThroughSimplicity

Here are some ideas on minimalism and Hygge and how to embrace both whilst enjoying a simpler lifestyle. I’m sharing some tips on how to make your home cosy without adding clutter so you can enjoy feeling warm and safe at home and still stay clutter-free! Autumn is my favourite season.


Books

The best of 2022: the new books I’ve loved this year | TolstoyTherapy

This website started out as a celebration of my love for classic literature. Tolstoy is even in the name! But that said, over the last decade, Tolstoy Therapy has evolved around…


Cooking and Baking

16 Bread Baking Tips Your Grandma Forgot To Tell You | Joybilee Farm

Use these bread baking tips from Grandma and learn how to bake better bread with the perfect rise, chewy, golden crusts, and pillowy soft crumb. 


My Books

Portrait of the Poet as a Woman

Your second wife calls to say that the children get ill after you bring them home Sunday night it must be something they eat what do I feed them something dreadful? She calls collect when she’s away. If I ask who’s calling she says, This is his wife.

Books by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman

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Filed under #CSA, Books, Cats, chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, hemiplegic migraines, Meditation and MIndfulness, Mental Health, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, Newsletters, PTSD, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence, The Alexandria Papers Newsletter, Trauma

The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #60

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The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #60 | Dr. Alexandria Szeman 4 December 2022


Mindfulness

Guided Meditation: Notice How Sadness, Loneliness, and Anger Show Up in Your Body – Mindful

 

 

Instead of trying to make difficult emotions change or go away, you can simply tune in to how they show up in your body, and see how they’re always changing on their own. When we’re caught in the throes of an emotion like sadness, loneliness, or anger, shifting our awareness into our body allows us…

 


Migraine

Self-Care: The Struggle is Real | Migraine.com

 

 

A man with migraine shares how he put his loved ones and responsibilities ahead of his self care when he had episodic attacks.

 

7 Self-Care Practices Every Migraine Sufferer Should Know

 

 

A hangover headache is bad enough, but a full-on, out-of-nowhere migraine attack? What’s worse? If you are a migraine sufferer, no matter how long it lasted, you know what your brain and body can feel like after an episode. You’re tired AF, cranky, and probably feel like crying.

 


Trauma and Sexual Abuse

How to Actually, Finally, Truly Set Some Boundaries With Your Family This Holiday Season | WonderMind

 

 

If you’re dreading the holidays because they typically come with ~family drama~, I’d like to introduce you to the magical power of setting boundaries with family. You’ve probably scrolled past a TikTok or two about the importance of this powerful thing called a boundary…

 

Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors | Greatist

 

 

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process. Trauma is easier to cope with when you have support, just like a broken bone is easier to set with a cast.

 


Mental Health

Keeping a Journal Isn’t Lame, It’s Self-Care | YourTango

 

 

At one of my very first Scholastic Book Fairs, I begged and pleaded with my mother to get the “Dear America” package. It was one of my favorite book series growing up, and it even came with a hardcover journal so you could add pages when you ran out.

 

Exercise for Mental Health: 8 Keys to Get and Stay Moving | NAMI

 

 

Mental illness has deeply impacted my life. I have experienced the flooding of anxiety and the drowning of depression. I have waged, and won, several battles with postpartum depression and been through loss and grief.

 


Books

What Can We Learn From A 1794 Novel About Turning Points In Crime Fiction? | CrimeReads

 

 

Turning points are incredibly important landmarks in crime fiction. They are the peak or series of peaks we climb to, where everything shifts inside the story. These moments are when we realize nothing is what it seems. Once we reach them, whether it is the climax of the book or an earlier point of…

 


Cooking and Baking

A Guide to the Essential Regional American Pizza Styles | FoodAndWine

 

 

Before the 1950s, most Americans didn’t know what pizza was. Arriving to the U.S. in the late 1800s, it was considered a cheap “ethnic” food, eaten mostly by marginalized Italian Americans in hole-in-the-wall restaurants or on the street.

 

Top 20 Tips for Food Bloggers | Cookie+Kate

 

 

I wish I had some magic secrets or shortcuts to share, but the truth is that food blogging is hard work. I receive questions about the subject fairly often, so I sat down to compile my best tips for food bloggers and ended up with an even twenty.

 


My Books

Books by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman

 

 

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created in Publicate

 

 

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Filed under #CSA, Baking, Books, Childhood Sexual Abuse, chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, Cooking, E-books, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Mental Health, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, PTSD, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence, Trauma

The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #59

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The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #59 | Dr. Alexandria Szeman | 20 November 2022

Oh, my, I’m so anxious for Thanksgiving — read: for all the yummy food — that I said there would be no newsletter this weekend. But it’s a week early. It’s “No newsletter next week” because it’s Thanksgiving in the US, and my kitties and I will be celebrating the holiday weekend by eating turkey and all the usual side dishes, including pumpkin pie with lots of whipped cream. So much whipped cream!


Mindfulness

5 Steps to Wind Down and Fall Asleep – Mindful
A bedtime meditation to stop tossing and turning, and get some quality shut-eye. As someone who works every day with patients struggling with insomnia, the most common thing I hear is once the head hits the pillow, the brain doesn’t stop.

 


Migraine

Dangerous Gifts for People with Chronic Illnesses (and Gift Ideas to Swap Them With)
I’m a big fan of samples, which makes Christmas gifts or other exchanges a pleasure. I love trying out new textures, sniffing new scents, and figuring out if the latest product on the block is a fad or of true value. Yet, samples might be dangerous gifts for some.

 


Trauma and Sexual Abuse

Nadine Burke Harris: How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime
Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain.

 


Mental Health

10 Ways Minimalism is More Than a Home Decor Trend – The Simplicity Habit
Inside: There are many ways that minimalism is more than a home decor trend. Read on for ten ways it can improve your home, life, and the planet. A guest post by Cora Gold The word “minimalist” is used to describe everything from watch and clothing designs to art and home decor.

 


Books

10 of the best novels set in nature to escape into the wild – Tolstoy Therapy
A quick note that some of my posts contain Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn a commission. “There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.” Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac Over on Live Wildly, I recently shared my selection of the most…

 


Cooking and Baking

Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving 2022 occurs on Thursday, November 24. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and

 


My Books

Books by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman
Get ebooks at Amazon now:

 

created in Publicate

 

 

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Filed under #CSA, Baking, Books, Chronic Illness, chronic pain, Cooking, Food, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Insomnia, Meditation and MIndfulness, Mental Health, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence, The Alexandria Papers Newsletter, Trauma

The Louisville Slugger

I did my last three years of high school in a district that was cramped for space. Because there was only an elementary school and a high school, and the district had decided to create a “junior high” category but didn’t have the building done yet, the high school building was used for both groups of students. The high school students started at 6:00 a.m. and were done by 1:30 p.m., allowing us half an hour for lunch. Then, at 2:00, the junior high students came to school. They had to stay late in the evening, and the parents didn’t like it very much, but until the new Junior High building was completed, it would have to do. That’s how I was able to work two jobs in high school. We lived near a mall, so I could be at work by 2:00 every day and work any time on weekends.

In one of the stores, I worked in the credit department, calling customers to remind them their payments were due, stuffing envelopes, and eventually, becoming a supervisor and approving borderline credit purchases when the stores called in to our central location. My other job was in a prominent retail store’s catalogue department, which was located next to Sporting Goods.

That’s where I first saw the display of baseball bats. As soon as I saw them, I knew I had to have one. I let the Sporting Goods manager help me narrow down the selection. I don’t recall whether aluminum bats were available then, but I was convinced that a wooden one would suit my purposes better.

I got permission from my one of my teachers (and the principal) to take Spanish class, which was my last class period of the day, during my lunch period. (They knew I had two jobs so that I could save money to go to college, which my parents and the rest of my family violently opposed, and I think they were trying to help me out.) That released me from school half an hour early, since, technically, my lunch period was at the end of the day. I couldn’t leave the school grounds, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t spend my lunch period outside, at the edge of the parking lot, with my baseball bat. So that’s what I did.

I practiced every day with that bat, slamming it as hard as I could against the trunk of the stoutest oak tree on the school’s property. At first, my arms, shoulders, and neck hurt so bad from batting practice, I thought it would kill me. But when I remembered my plan, I got back to work.

I attracted a lot of attention from some of my fellow students, most of them guys, virtually all of them “dead-heads,” as we called the students who used illicit drugs back then, because they were the ones who skipped their classes but, for some strange reason, didn’t leave school grounds, though they all had access to cars. At first, they just watched me. Then Leo, whom I knew from my Political Science class, sent his girlfriend, Nessa, over to inquire what, exactly, I was attempting to do “by beating that tree to death with a baseball bat.” After she returned with the answer, Leo and several of the boys came over.

They all had girlfriends. They all knew I was a “brain,” a “teacher’s pet,” a “brown-nose,” a “suck-up,” and everything else that the College Prep students got called by everyone in the school because we made good grades. They all knew I didn’t wear make-up, dress in all-black clothes, dye my hair purple or blue with Kool-Aid, or skip classes to roam the hallways or smoke marijuana in the bathrooms. They knew I’d never had a boyfriend and that I didn’t drink, do drugs, or party. In short, I was the complete opposite of all of them.

None of that stopped them from teaching me to correctly use the bat, however.

I slept every night with the bat under the edge of my bed. I’d cleared a wide space in my room so the bat wouldn’t connect with anything except what I wanted to hit. I kept the curtains open, though I found it difficult to sleep with the streetlight shining in, because I needed to be able to see my target. I even practiced reaching under the bed, grabbing the bat, jumping out of bed, and swinging it in that virtually empty room.

When my stepfather Fred finally came for the last time, I heard him sneaking down the stairs to my bedroom, which was now on the lower level of the house, so I was already standing in the dark with the bat. It was the middle of the night, in the middle of winter, in the midst of my most extreme discontent.

He came into my room, dropped his pants, felt around the empty bed, stood up, turned his back to me, and cursed under his breath.

That’s when Mr. Louisville Slugger and I struck.

His bellows brought my mother Maida, who didn’t come near me. Instead, she ran out of the bedroom to call the number Fred gave her. About an hour later, one of his employees came from work. The employee said nothing when he was taken to Fred, writhing, without control of his limbs, on the floor of his stepdaughter’s bedroom. The employee said nothing when he saw me, teeth clenched and eyes narrowed, standing in the corner with a raised baseball bat. He said nothing when he put his hands under Fred’s arms and dragged him, screaming through dishtowels stuffed into his mouth, out of my bedroom, across the laundry room, through the dark garage, down the driveway, and to the bed of the employee’s pick-up truck.

As instructed, the employee drove to work and dutifully deposited my stepfather on an icy bridge over a ravine in the parking lot. Taking Fred’s keys, the employee retrieved Fred’s walkie-talkie from his office. The employee returned to the building in which he himself worked. He dialed our home phone number. Maida answered. She screamed. She ran out of the house, jumped into Fred’s car, and sped off to his workplace, a government installation that required high security clearance.

Here’s how their story went:

The employee, who worked third-shift, had phoned Fred, who was the Manager of Physical Plants and who was always on call in case something went wrong with any of the facilities, to inform Fred that something had happened to one of the generators and that no one could get it started. Later, after Fred had arrived at work, he radioed said employee, informing him that Fred had fallen on the bridge which led from the parking lot to the main building, and hurt himself bad. The employee called Security, who, after finding Fred, immediately contacted the hospital. An ambulance raced Fred  — and the stalwart employee, who refused to leave my injured stepfather — from the ice-covered bridge at work to the emergency room. My mother, who was not legally permitted to even be in the parking lot, accompanied them.

One week later, the stalwart, taciturn third-shift employee, now promoted to day-shift supervisor, came to the house to inform my mother that the company had installed a hospital bed, along with all the equipment necessary to care for Fred, hired several shifts of nurses, and was transferring Fred to the “hospital room” at work. It seems the company was not about to lose its hundred-trillion-hour accident-free safety record simply because my stepfather had slipped on an icy bridge. By keeping Fred hospitalized on its premises, Fred would technically be at work every day. Thus, despite the eight months that Fred would be unable to actually work due to his numerous and complex injuries, the company would not have to re-set its neon Safety Hours sign at the entrance to zero.

Fred’s injuries were reported as having occurred after his falling on ice on the very same metal bridge that Fred himself had apparently reported as “extremely dangerous during inclement weather” several weeks previously, when Fred’s newly promoted stalwart employee had slipped but, fortunately, not been seriously injured. Paperwork detailing Fred’s report concerning this very dangerous bridge as well as the stalwart employee’s minor accident was discovered in Fred’s office files by his equally trustworthy and ambitious personal assistant three weeks after my stepfather’s unfortunate mishap.

My mother bitterly and angrily related all this to me during the period Fred was not allowed to come home because of his grievous injuries, during the many long months she was not permitted to visit him since she did not have the security clearance to see him in the hospital room constructed for him at work.

A hospital room which absolutely no one was supposed to discover, not even his family members, as it was not only illegal, but unethical as well.

Medical Summary of Fred’s Injuries:
Fractured hips, pelvis, upper and lower left leg, upper and lower left arm, left shoulder, left collarbone, both hands, wrists, thumbs, multiple fingers

Words cannot begin to express my severe disappointment.
I’d been aiming for my stepfather’s spine.

Related Posts
read another excerpt (chapters 1-6) from my memoir
and related chapters that are not in the final, published version

At the First Meeting of The Liars' Club

At the First Meeting of The Liars’ Club

Trigger Warning Though not graphic, this post discusses childhood sexual abuse. I stood, mortified into silence, in front of my second-grade class. My teacher, a ...
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O Coward Conscience

O Coward Conscience

Trigger Warning: This post, though not graphic, discusses childhood sexual abuse. O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me... My conscience hath a thousand several ...
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My Childhood on Planet of the Apes

My Childhood on Planet of the Apes

"Damn you," cried the practically naked Charlton Heston as he fell to his knees on the beach in front of the half-buried Statue of Liberty ...
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The Louisville Slugger

The Louisville Slugger

I did my last three years of high school in a district that was cramped for space. Because there was only an elementary school and ...
Continue reading

 

  • This chapter, slightly modified, is an excerpt from my true crime memoir, M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door © 2014, 2017, 2019 by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman. All rights reserved. No content may be copied, excerpted, or distributed without the express written consent of the author and publisher, with copyright credit to the author. Please don’t support the piracy of Intellectual Property.

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Filed under #CSA, Childhood Sexual Abuse, Memoir, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence

My Childhood on Planet of the Apes

“Damn you,” cried the practically naked Charlton Heston as he fell to his knees on the beach in front of the half-buried Statue of Liberty. “God damn you all to hell.”

1968: the hottest film in our world was the sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes, where three astronauts crash-land on a seemingly deserted planet, only to discover that in this topsy-turvy world, the apes can talk, read, write, ride horses, and shoot guns, while the mute humans are beasts, herded and captured, enslaved and oppressed. The film had just hit drive-in theatres, where kids got in free. We went to see the movie with our parents, with our friends and their parents, with the kids we ignored in school and their parents. We went with absolutely anyone to see Planet of the Apes. Again and again and again.

All the neighborhood children were so enamored of the film that we’d memorized the dialogue and played Planet of the Apes every day at an abandoned construction site on the other side of the railroad tracks. Since the site was vast and filled with gigantic concrete culverts and miscellaneous construction materials, it really was like we’d landed on another planet. It was the perfect setting for our Planet of the Apes games.

The first thing we did each day was draw straws to see who’d get to be the apes and who’d be the humans. We had very strict rules on our Planet of the Apes. Only the apes were allowed to talk. The humans were allowed to grunt, point, and use sign language. Sometimes the humans would huddle together in a corner of the site and whisper, but if the apes caught them doing that, they got mad and hit the humans really hard. The apes got to be up on top of the concrete culverts, and the humans’ goal was to get all the apes off the culverts so the humans could be on top. It was a Planet of the Apes King of the Hill.

The apes were allowed to use pieces of board as weapons, but only if the wood didn’t have any nails in it. Sometimes the apes would pretend the boards were guns and make shooting noises, but none of the humans ever fell down when they did that, so the shooting was just gratuitous sound effects. Given their naturally less evolved status on this planet, the humans were only allowed to use rocks as weapons. More like pebbles, actually. The apes had only agreed to pebble-sized rocks after one of the apes hit a human hard enough to break open the skin on his knee and he threatened to tell his parents what had really happened and which ape had done it. The humans had to be extremely careful about how hard they threw the rocks at the apes, however, and on which part of the apes’ bodies the rocks landed. The apes got really violent if the rocks hurt too much.

Neither apes nor humans were allowed to hit someone on the head or face: our parents would know we’d been playing Planet of the Apes at the construction site, and they’d all forbidden it. The apes could hit the human with their stick-guns on the back or butt. The humans could throw the rocks at the apes’ legs, arms, and backs.

The most important rule in our world was that nobody had to be a human two days in a row. It was only fair.

One day, one of the apes found a long section of rope and decided that each of the humans needed to have a choke-collar and leash, similar to the leather collars with leashes the humans wore in the film when the apes were transporting their captives from one place to another. The rope choke-collar and leash worked fine for a while, though the apes got yelled at a few times for pulling too hard or wrapping the rope too tightly.

Then Bobby Webster, who was human at the time and who fancied himself a young Charlton Heston, decided that humans had evolved sufficiently to develop speech and to have an intelligible language. In fact, according to Bobby, humans had become so evolved, they understood English, which was known to be the apes’ language.

“Take your dirty, stinking paws off of me, you damned dirty ape,” said Bobby as he ripped off his choke-collar and leash, shoved his ape-guard down, and raced up on the few apes already on the culverts.

The rest of us humans got so excited that we immediately learned to speak English and pretty soon had all the apes defeated. We shouted a thundering victory song as we stomp-danced on top of the culverts.

The apes were furious.

They insisted that humans weren’t allowed to talk on this planet. Ever.

Bobby Webster pointed out that Charlton Heston had talked partway through the real movie, so we, too, should be able to talk. Sometimes. Of course, the rest of us humans agreed.

The apes didn’t.

That day, the fighting on the Planet of the Apes was real.

When we got home, cut and bruised, bleeding and crying, our mother was livid.

“You’ve been playing Planet of the Apes again, haven’t you?” she said as she knocked us each on the side the head. “How many times have I told you to stop playing that? Somebody’s going to get hurt.”

None of us was allowed to eat any supper that night — or for several nights after — and she refused to let us clean our cuts with anything but our own saliva, saying that’s all we’d have on our Ape-planet. Two days later, when my little sister Amy cried and begged not to be forced to go to our father’s house for her scheduled weekend visit, complaining that she didn’t like sleeping in his bed with him, our mother said Amy had to go: it was her punishment for playing Apes. After my little brother Jimmy Lee tried to hide from his own father — Amy’s and my new stepfather — in the basement one afternoon, Jimmy Lee came up to dinner with bruises on his face and neck, worse than anything he got on the Ape-planet. When my stepfather crept into our bedroom that night and hurt me more than usual, I wanted to say, “Take your stinking paws off me,” but I couldn’t. Afterward, he said it was all my fault, for playing Planet of the Apes when we weren’t supposed to.

Of course, none of that stopped us from playing Planet of the Apes.

After all, on that planet, sometimes we got to be the apes.

Related Posts
read an excerpt (chapters 1-6) from my memoir
and related chapters that are not in final, published version

At the First Meeting of The Liars' Club

At the First Meeting of The Liars’ Club

Trigger Warning Though not graphic, this post discusses childhood sexual abuse. I stood, mortified into silence, in front of my second-grade class. My teacher, a ...
Continue reading
O Coward Conscience

O Coward Conscience

Trigger Warning: This post, though not graphic, discusses childhood sexual abuse. O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me... My conscience hath a thousand several ...
Continue reading
Glue-Boy

Glue-Boy

His real name was Daniel David Davison III, but nobody called him that except Sister St. James and the principal every time he got sent ...
Continue reading
My Childhood on Planet of the Apes

My Childhood on Planet of the Apes

"Damn you," cried the practically naked Charlton Heston as he fell to his knees on the beach in front of the half-buried Statue of Liberty ...
Continue reading
The Louisville Slugger

The Louisville Slugger

I did my last three years of high school in a district that was cramped for space. Because there was only an elementary school and ...
Continue reading

© 2019 by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman. All rights reserved. No content may be copied, excerpted, or distributed without express written consent of the author and publisher, with copyright credit to the author. Please don’t support the piracy of Intellectual Property. Note: Though this chapter was in the early drafts of my true crime memoir, M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door, it is not in the final version of the book.

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Filed under Childhood Sexual Abuse, Classic Films, Films, Films/Movies, Memoir, Movies/Films, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence