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A powerful and groundbreaking work about reclaiming the body from shame and trauma.
 

‘Brave, unflinching and infuriating, the stories Lucia has collated are ones that desperately need to be heard.’

Osman Faruqi

‘Osborne-Crowley writes with an elegant precision about this most urgent of subjects. Like the human body, this book contains a warning: if we do not attend to its revelations, there may well be pain. Bold, sharp and compassionate, this work announces Osborne-Crowley as a writer with great purpose.’

Rick Morton

‘A beautiful and deeply moving book, and one that is vitally important. Lucia Osborne-Crowley has written an insightful and moving witness statement for women who live with the consequence of assault and abuse, and for the world that has refused to see. Our bodies hold our traumas, and Osborne-Crowley refuses to keep the silence anymore.’

Virginia Trioli

 

It occurred to me that the thing that made me the sickest, the thing that made me suffer most, was the fact that I felt so compelled to hide what had been done to me. Because I believed it was all my fault.

Lucia Osborne-Crowley didn’t tell a soul when she was raped aged fifteen. Then, eighteen months after she was attacked, her body began to turn on her – and what followed were sudden bouts of searing, unbearable pain that saw her in and out of hospital for the next ten years.

At twenty-five, Lucia for the first time told the truth about her rape. This disclosure triggered an endless series of appointments with doctors, trauma specialists and therapists. Meanwhile, Lucia threw herself into researching the shadowy intricacies of abuse, trauma and shame.

In My Body Keeps Your Secrets, Lucia shares the voices of women and trans and non-binary people around the world, as well as her own deeply moving testimony. She writes of vulnerability, acceptance and the reclaiming of our selves, all in defiance of a world where atrocities are committed and survivors are repeatedly told to carry the weight of that shame.

Widely researched and boldly argued, this book reveals the secrets our bodies bury deep within them, the way trauma can rewrite our biology, and how our complicated relationships with sex affect our connection with others. Crafted in a daring and immersive literary form, My Body Keeps Your Secrets is a necessary, elegant and empathetic work that further establishes Lucia’s credentials as a key intersectional feminist thinker for a new generation.

 

Lucia Osborne-Crowley is a journalist, essayist, writer and legal researcher. Her news reporting has appeared in ABC News, the Guardian, Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal and Women’s Agenda. Her long-form writing has appeared in the Lifted Brow and Meanjin.

 

This book was born out of my experience of writing my first book, I Choose Elena. In that book, I explored my deeply personal experience of trauma and the impact of traumatic memories on the body. But I uncovered so much groundbreaking research that I wanted to write something broader, something that could address these under-examined topics with a lens that can apply to a whole range of human experiences. In order to do this, I started interviewing 100 women, trans and non-binary people about how trauma has affected their bodies.

When I disclosed my rape after ten years of silence, I realised that holding that secret inside me had been profoundly damaging to my body and mind. I had developed chronic pain and two chronic illnesses. When I finally started getting treatment for my trauma, I realised that these were connected to this secret I had kept for so long. I learned so much about the impact of trauma on the body while writing I Choose Elena, and for this new book I wanted to expand that knowledge and see how it played out in other peoples’ lives. I wanted to test the theory, using hundreds of hours of interviews, that the body keeps the score.

I think our society continues to present a profoundly flattened version of trauma in our everyday narratives. Our understanding of trauma is incomplete. So often when we talk about trauma, it is in the context of war veterans or one-off events such as car crashes. These experiences are also, statistically, more likely to be male experiences. That means we have excluded from our understanding of trauma a whole host of experiences that usually affect women and those outside the gender binary. Sexual abuse, for example, may be something that goes on for months or years – meaning it falls outside our incorrect notion that trauma is a one-off, dangerous event.

I wanted to write this book because I wanted to explore all the different symptoms of trauma, including the ones we sometimes mistake for personality traits or other medical conditions. By bringing together lots of very different stories, My Body Keeps Your Secrets can perhaps contribute to a more sophisticated and nuanced conversation about how trauma changes the body and mind. We are moving forward together in our understanding of the interconnectedness of our bodies and selves; I hope this book is a small part of this future.

 

 

 

 

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