Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Crawling Out, by Casey Morley

The subtitle of Crawling Out, "One Woman's Journey to an Empowered Life after Breaking a Cycle of Abuse No One Should Have to Endure" pretty much sums up this book. Casey Morley was one of six children whose alcoholic father abandoned them, and whose mother took up with an abusive, alcoholic boyfriend. At 16 years old, Casey leaves home and moves in with a family for whom she babysat. At 18 she had to move out and try to survive on her own. She succeeded in completing a course in cosmetology, and began working in a salon.

The focus of Crawling Out traverses her abusive childhood through two significant abusive relationships as an adult. In the first she was physically and emotionally abused by her boyfriend, Tony. In the second, she was emotionally abused and manipulated by a man whom she refers to as The Foreman, in an attempt to protect his identity. Throughout she tries to gain control over her life and actions, but she continues to allow them back into her life. Many times she is the one who reaches out to them in times of need or when she's feeling lonely. Her portrayal of herself as a victim, not really acknowledging how she herself perpetuated her unhealthy relationships by calling them, answering their calls, continuing contact with their family members, etc., wears a little thin. Of course it's easy to see this as an outsider, and perhaps harder for a victim of abuse to see clearly when they're in the middle of a situation.

This book is self-published; although the author did use a professional editor. I found the writing passable; however, the story could have been pulled together into a more coherent narrative. The author hints at a number of circumstances without making clear what she means. For example, when she is asked at 18 to move out of her house by Mrs. B (the woman who had taken her in at 16) she states "...it truly was time to leave. History had started to repeat itself." It's not clear what she means by that, although the implication is that Mr. B had perhaps begun to be abusive. There were some other grammatical or vocabulary issues throughout the book as well, although they weren't excessive. One that I noted a number of times was the author's use of the word "smirked" when she must have meant "smiled," as "smirked" has a negative connotation that wasn't appropriate in context. One thing I don't understand is that she refers to her son Nicholas throughout, but the book is dedicated to her son "Michael James." There is no explanation for this.

Overall, I found the steady recitation of one bad decision, experience, or health crisis after another to be fairly dreary reading. Nevertheless, this book may be helpful to women who are in a similar situation.

Casey Morley. Crawling Out: One Woman's Journey to an Empowered Life after Breaking a Cycle of Abuse No One Should Have to Endure. Bloomington, Ind.: Balboa Press, 2014. 308 pages. ISBN 9781452514307.

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