1. What is Where Silence Ends about and why did you write it?
Where Silence Ends is a nonfiction memoir written by Mexican-American, mother-daughter duo and touches on generational sexual trauma and healing. I, Angela Ruiz, am the daughter, and my mother is Mary Ruiz. The story is written in 1st person and 3rd person, putting the reader in the middle of the action while at times pulling them out to gain a helicopter view. The story begins 4 generations ago in 1920 in Michoacán, Mexico with my great grandmother, Elena — who passed at 106 years old. Which means I got to spend 26 lovely years listening to her laughter, stories, and songs. The main protagonist of the story however, is my mother. My great grandmother gave birth to four children, and her first born was my mom’s father, who is the antagonist of our lives and thus the story. He lived his life as a pedophile, with my maternal grandmother, Carmen, as his enabler. The reader connects with over a dozen voices that stepped into their power and were interviewed for this book in order to piece the entire story together. Each one of them have felt the power in the beauty of speaking out and have helped ripple out the breaking of cycles.
I decided to write the story for several reasons. The main one being justice for my mom. Then, justice for our family. Justice for myself. Justice for individuals around the world that have been sexually abused and need support and encouragement in speaking out. It is bitter sweet to bring this family story of ours to light, with the bitter taste being unexpected emotions to process, eventually turning sweet. I am currently 34 years old. The first time my mom mentioned that she’d like to write this story with me one day was when I was just 16. Alas, here we are, and we both feel in our guts it is time.
2. Much of the book deals with sexual generational trauma. What was it like to write about your family’s history of sexual trauma? Were you nervous or anxious about sharing such detail about your family and how they may respond? Also, was it painful for you to write about such traumatic experiences?
It was… empowering. I had to sit and think about that first question. Honestly, I’m still processing. But one thing I know is that it needed to happen. The discussion around sexual abuse needed to be ripped open within my familial community. There was so much tip toeing around this for years. There were doors even that were simply shut and had not yet been opened. It was time.
I was nervous, anxious, excited, ready, not ready. My mom was the one that was 100% ready, and she led the way. She opened a path in the waters, and I followed the break. We were unsure of how our family — outside of our immediate family — would respond to the idea of us writing this book, and to our delight, the majority were fully on board knowing my mom wanted to share.
Though there were times when it was painful to write the content in the book, there was so much weightlessness to the writing process and so much light. I hope that comes through in the book, and I’ve heard from folks that it does, which makes my heart light up. One thing I made sure of was to be in therapy while I wrote the book. I have no doubt that helped keep me centered.
3. The book is also about healing from trauma. What advice would you give to someone who has or is experiencing sexual trauma and how can they heal from it?
The first thing to recognize, which has been a journey for me to realize, is that healing is a lifelong journey. You never stop healing. This is a beautiful part of growth, and not to be seen as a weight or burden. This idea that we heal and then it’s done is not realistic, and I want to make sure that people have healing as a continuous journey.
4. What sort of reaction have you received from family and friends about the book?
My mom and I have both felt enveloped with support and encouragement from our family and friends. It’s clear that this is a conversation that many people want opened up more than it already is. It feels beautiful to now see that support and encouragement coming from individuals we didn’t know before that are hearing about and reading the book for the first time.
5. What would you say to someone who experienced sexual abuse and feels shame, guilt, or believes it was their fault for not stopping the abuse?
I would say, “It is not your fault. You did nothing wrong. Give that shame and guilt back to your perpetrator for as long as you feel you need to in order to make it your reality.” I would also say, “It’s perfectly normal to feel that shame and guilt. Talk about it, no matter how hard it feels, and your load will become lighter. Be gracious with yourself.”
6. Some people who have experienced trauma are in too much emotional pain to speak out about it or speak about it at all. How would you respond to them?
I think everyone goes through their own process. I encourage people, and myself, to find an activity — physical and or mental — that will help them through to the light. One immediate source is therapy. Find a type of therapy and activity that works for you and do it often. My mom said that one of the things that helped her through a lot of her sexual trauma was focusing on the good things in life, no matter how small. Whether that be a song that you like, the heat of the sun, the wind across your face, or walking in nature. Though it may seem impossible to talk about, force yourself to do it at some point, with someone you trust. If you can find a community, even better. This way, you’re not storing it in your body and you’re releasing your trauma. Again, there are many ways to release this, so find something that works for you.
7. What advice would you have for counselor or psychotherapists who have clients who have experienced sexual trauma.
Read people’s stories that are already written on this topic so that as a therapist you can see into the rawness of someone’s life going through this kind of situation. I think therapists can learn a lot from that, in addition to the knowledge they already hold.
8. Anything else
I hope this book helps people find even more courage than already exists within them to use their voice for themselves or someone else in their life. Thank you for this opportunity! Lots of love and good vibes to all.
For more information about the book, please visit https://www.letterevolution.com/book