Memories

Sometimes you come to me when I least expect you; you rise up out of the dark water, your hand skimming the surface of the pool; broad and pale-tipped, like a water lily, the softest touch I ever knew.

You rise up, smiling, your mouth ripe and wide and alive. Sometimes you come to me when I need you most and know that I can no longer have you. And then I am back in that awful place, the sense of what I had and what I lost banging around in my chest, trapped, frightened; a panicked bird in my heart. Worst of all, I can still recall the sweet,sour metallic taste of your blood in my mouth.

The Resurrection Collector

Light streamed into the dankness, fingering its way across the uneven floor and up the blood spattered walls to the ceiling. There was more to this small, cramped space than the eye could see; something beyond claustrophobic, something beyond, far beyond the depths of despair and terror embedded in the walls. It was woven into the air, into the filth and the dust particles that danced before her eyes; its scent lingered in the dried urine, mold and blood; its essence floated in the air, trapped in the jagged rays of light, pointing, pointing, pointing, look at me, Karen, look at me.

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Art by Kristin Lebovitz

Review: Without Consent by Jim Clemente

No matter how visceral and uncomfortable it can be to watch an episode of Criminal Minds, the reality is that brutal fact always trumps fiction. There is nothing an author or a film director can imagine that is not worse in reality. What makes it worse is that it actually happened to a real human being; a human being who experienced real terror at the hands of another and that is something that can never be completely transferred to the screen.

Knowing what I did about Jim Clemente before I read his debut novel, the semi-autobiographical Without Consent (Rothco Press) – his career in the FBI, illness, his involvement in Criminal Minds as an advisor and later a writer and campaigner for victims of child sex abuse (for which he was interviewed by Oprah) – knowing all of that did not really prepare me for the emotional impact of Clemente’s story. Not for a heartstopping minute.

Without Consent is the story of Tony Dante, a NYC prosecutor who battles the criminals, the system and his own personal demons. And one day, that demon reappears in Tony’s life, out of the blue, smiling and complicit and still, somehow, involved in Tony’s life. What happens next is that Tony must deal with his tormentor and bring him to justice, while trying to salvage his own life, seek justice for other sexually abused children and somehow just function as a human being. Clemente writes as if he is telling you Tony’s story face-to-face. It is compelling, stark and non-sensationalist. It is a raw account.

I would be lying to you if I said this book did not make me cry. I cried several times throughout it, because I knew this had happened to the guy who had written it; because I knew that it had happened to people I know, but mostly because I know that child sex abuse happens all the time, every day, every where in the world … all the broken hearts and broken lives; all that fear and terror and living with shame.

But what made me cry the most was Tony’s open heart letter to Holly, the first time he was truly able to express his feelings to someone he cared about. I don’t know if that happened for real, but I hope it did.

The world can be a strange and terrifying place. It is also a place of magic and wonder and part of the magic is that without social media I would never have had the chance to communicate directly with Jim Clemente. I would not be able to tell you that even though he has been a fighter, a hero and a television and media personality, he is in reality the honest-to-goodness, self-effacing modest guy that you will find in Tony Dante.

So many men have taken their lives over the abuse they endured as children. Jim Clemente lived to tell – and to campaign against the stigma surrounding child sex abuse, help make Criminal Minds one of the best shows on TV and to write a book that will always stay with me.

Without Consent - by Jim Clemente (Rothco Press)

Without Consent – by Jim Clemente (Rothco Press) Photo © by BJ Wolf.

For more information on Jim Clemente, visit his website

Without Consent is available on Amazon

Jim Clemente is also involved with The Bristlecone Project which is devoted to helping men overcome sexual abuse. For more information and help, visit them here