51 minutes | Mar 1, 2021

Madeleine Black: Surviving gang rape at age 13, she is unbroken

Support the Finding Fertile Ground Podcast on Patreon! Warning: This episode contains adult content. Madeleine Black survived a gang rape at age 13. Since I was sexually assaulted at 13 as well, we had a tender conversation about how this experience changed our lives.Madeleine was born to two survivors. Her dad survived the Holocaust and her mum had her neck broken in a childhood surgery and woke up bedridden. Her parents handled their own trauma by just living their lives and carrying on.When Madeline was 13, a “really cool” friend asked her over because her mom was away from home. They lied about where they were staying. They bought a bottle of vodka and took it to the local café. Since she had never drunk alcohol before, it didn’t take her long to get drunk. Soon she began throwing up, and two young men offered to take them home in a taxi.“It became obvious very quickly they weren't there to let me sleep off the alcohol…they were there for something else, and the two of them proceeded to rape and torture me over the next four to five hours.”Madeleine’s body went into shock and she had an out-of-body experience. As a therapist, she knows that this often happens when the trauma is overwhelming. “Our stories are not uncommon and yet still we struggle to speak out about it. Still not many people will talk openly because of the shame that is so wrapped up in the event…it took me years to realize the shame never belonged to me. It always belonged to them.”When Madeleine woke up and remembered what happened, she was terrified to tell anyone. They cleaned up the flat and decided not to speak about it. On some subconscious level, she had bought into the rape myths and already thought it was her fault. Her life spiraled out of control after the experience, and it all came to a head when she stayed out late one night and her mum confronted her. Her parents suggested she go away for a while, so she went to Israel. While living there she met a wonderful Scotsman, the first man she felt safe with. They’ve been together now for 37 years. Madeleine became a therapist because of her dad’s experience surviving Auschwitz. She also helped survivors of domestic abuse and rape. Only when training as a rape crisis hotline worker did she understand she was living with undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder.Madeleine decided to go public with her story six years ago when she was invited to share it through an organization called The Forgiveness Project. She published her memoir, Unbroken, about three months before the #metoo movement started up again. Then she was invited to share her story at TEDx Glasgow. It has taken years of therapy to work through her trauma. It’s been a huge process. She has found a way to forgive her attackers, calling herself an “accidental forgiver.” She views her forgiveness as an act of self-love. Madeleine started “Unbroken The Podcast with Madeleine Black” to help heal, motivate, inspire, and bring hope to others. This conversation touched my heart. I wish that my 13-year-old self could have spoken to Madeleine’s 13-year-old self and said, “#metoo.”Next week I share the story of Leah Carey, who tried to be a “good girl” for decades before waking up sexually in her early 40s. Now she is a sex coach and educator, in addition to host of the “Good Girls Talk About Sex” podcast. View photos and more details about Madeleine Black on my website.Fertile Ground Communications LLC is a certified women-owned business enterprise, disadvantaged business enterprise, and emerging small business. 
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