Unbroken - The Debut Memoir from Madeleine Black
"For many years after that night, my memories of what happened after he held the blade to my throat and threatened my life were fragmented …. Difficult to piece together. It was too extreme, too violent for me to understand"
Violently gang raped when she was thirteen years old, and raped three more times before the age of eighteen, Madeleine has experienced more trauma in her life than most ever will.
Living in a state of shock and self-loathing, it took her years of struggle to confront the buried memories of that first attack and begin to undo the damage it wrought, as men continued to take advantage of her fragility in the worst possible way.
Yet, after growing up with a burden no teenager should ever have to shoulder, she found the heart to carry out the best revenge plan of all; leading a fulfilling and happy life.
For Madeleine, forgiveness was the key. True forgiveness takes genuine effort. It takes a real desire to understand those who have done us so much harm. It is the ultimate act of courage.
In Unbroken, Madeleine tells her deeply moving and empowering story, as she discovers that life is about how a person chooses to recover from adversity. We are not defined by what knocks us down – we are defined by how we get back up.
"This book is a powerful testament to forgiveness, by an author who has suffered greatly"
- Alexander McCall Smith
Madeleine Black’s Unbroken reveals the horrific trauma of rape and all of its repercussions with fearless honesty, while guiding the reader through such challenging material with an indomitable hope. This story is an example of the gentle feminine power that all human beings sorely need and are capable of exhibiting—our common ache for compassion, forgiveness, and love. With the determination that defines the difference between victim and survivor, Madeleine shares her monumental healing process, inviting us to begin healing of our own. This beautifully-written work is a must-read for men and women alike, and graced with the power to diminish the illusion of our separation that rape and all other violence stems from.
- Arno Arr Michaelis IV, Author, Speaker, Director of Serve 2 Unite, Former white supremacist
It is not easy to read Madeleine Black's story, but it is vital that you do. It is a book to buy and pass on; a book to borrow; a book to recommend. “Unbroken” is a story to help deepen our understanding of what we are capable of; depravity and compassion, horror and survival; and ultimately, a better future.
- Gary Lewis (Actor)
The immense power of shame inhibiting survivors of sexual violence from speaking out is confronted and conquered in Madeleine Black’s incredible memoir. Detailing her journey of hope from being gang raped as a 13 year old child to choosing forgiveness and reclaiming her life, Madeleine’s admirable courage in facing her deepest fears is key to ultimately unlocking her mind and freeing her spirit.
An empowering, evocative read, Unbroken is an opportunity to reflect on the strength within us and the intense capacity for self-healing when hate and anger are let go and life’s beauty is embraced.
- Judith Staff, Teacher/Trainer
Privileged and humbled, these are the words that entered my mind as I read, no, as I lived the journey of Madeleine Black. I felt anger swelling inside; quickly this was replaced by shame, shame for my fellow man.
Tears flowed, I shouted, I laughed, I cried, but, most of all I felt immense pride, the pride was two pronged, pride that this beautiful lady asked me to read her account of the brutal episode that could have destroyed her.
Pride that, out of adversity, had emerged a giant among people, a forgiving giant that has filled my heart with joy.
This is a journey of hope.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
- Peter Woolf (Author of The Damage Done)
Unbroken stands testament to the fact that it's not what happens to you in this life that counts, but how you respond to those happenings. Madeleine Black speaks with a quiet honesty about the horrific rape she experienced as a young girl and the consequences it has had on her life. She opens the doors to her past and let's the light shine in; seeing off the shadows of shame and guilt which many victims of sexual violence are left to live with.
An example to us all that we need not be defined by actions inflicted upon us by others, but instead shaped and indeed strengthened by our experiences, good or bad. In a world where sexual violence continues to be common place this book is hugely important and deserves to be read by men and women alike, in the hope that somehow if we understand more, we can change.
- Lorraine McIntosh (Member of Deacon Blue and actor)
In this important book Madeleine Black has chosen to share her complex, long-haul journey towards forgiveness in the wake of a brutal, almost fatal rape by two young men when she was thirteen. Unbroken challenges the stigma of shame which drives the destructive, intergenerational culture of secrecy surrounding rape and sexual violence. It is deeply moving to stay with the twists and turns of this brave, educative narrative as the author gradually confronts her frozen pain and speaks out about what it has taken for her to grow into her strength as a vibrant woman, trusting her place in the world. This book is a generous, hard won gift that will inspire and heal many others.
- Marian Partington. Author of If You Sit Very Still and fellow speaker for The Forgiveness Project
It's not easy to write about pain let alone rape but in her remarkable and heartfelt memoir Madeleine Black manages to transform a brutal and traumatic true story into one of meaning and hope. There is an overwhelming sense that for Madeleine telling her story (after years of silence) saved her from it.
At times it is unbearably painful as she explains how the consequences of rape can extend across decades and even generations. But this book is an important and valuable insight into recovery after sexual violence and will offer hope to many woman emerging from similar traumas. Coming to the understanding that the best revenge is to live a happy life, "Unbroken" maps the author's journey of self-discovery. We follow her tireless quest to heal in mind, body and soul through therapy, bodywork (because pain gets trapped in the body), breathing techniques and Native American sweat lodges. The book ends with the deep realisation that to truly make peace with the past requires forgiveness- a final act of self-liberation and of self-empowerment.
- Marina Cantacuzino (Founder of The Forgiveness Project)