I Choose Elena by Lucia Osborne-Crowley

‘Growing up, I was a gymnast.’

When Lucia Osborne-Crowley was fifteen years old, she was violently raped in Sydney.  She didn’t speak of this rape for ten years.  Before the rape, Ms Osborne-Crowley was a young woman on track to be an Olympic gymnast.  After the rape, she was chronically ill.  In this courageous, confronting but uplifting book and in fewer than 150 pages, Ms Osborne-Crowley writes of her journey. 

‘Shame really is the closest thing to death.’

I read this book wondering how many of us do not report rape because of our shame.  I wonder how many of us can relate to this:

‘I was so ashamed of my past that I punished myself by recreating it.’

It takes great courage to confront such experiences and to talk about them.  It often seems easier, in the short-term at least, to bury the experiences.  But such buried experiences fester.  Ms Osborne Crowley has had to deal with chronic illness (in the forms of endometriosis and Crohn’s Disease).  Both are life-changing inflammatory diseases: I’ve had my own experience with endometriosis.  This book touches on a possible relationship between untreated trauma and chronic illness: I’d like to learn more about this.

Ms Osborne-Crowley read Elena Ferrante’s novels, and made a symbolic choice which is represented in the title:

‘I can choose to be influenced by a violent man in an abandoned bathroom or I can choose to be influenced by the strength and honesty of Elena.’

This is less a memoir than a personal account of a long health-related journey.  Ms Osborne-Crowley’s focus is on learning and healing.  And sharing.

‘Because of my silence the damage done to me is irreversible.’

Highly recommended.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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