Piecing life together after childhood sexual abuse

Singer, songwriter, public speaker, business owner and author, Monique Lisbon was twenty years old when her life fell apart. After years of being scared silent, Monique was able to admit to herself and to others that she had been sexually abused by her father and thus, began a long and often painful journey to heal.

The newly released book, Fragments of Home: Piecing Life Together after Childhood Sexual Abuse is Monique Lisbon’s story – an attempt to explore and reflect on her childhood trauma and how these experiences have contributed to the difficulties she has faced as an adult.

Monique Lisbon told Australian Women Online she wrote Fragments of Home after identifying a gap in the market for books related to childhood sexual abuse.

“The books on childhood sexual abuse tend to fall into one of two categories. There are those written from a purely theoretical perspective and others are straight autobiographical narratives without much reflection. I really wanted to write something that would bridge the gap between theory and personal experience. I felt there needed to be an integration of the two,” Monique said.

The book also comes with a CD of 16 songs written and sung beautifully by Monique Lisbon. “I wanted to write a book that integrated heart, head and gut. So part of the reason for doing it with the CD was to give a heart perspective to the issues.”

Monique integrates the heart, head and gut by presenting a song, a personal narrative and reflection in each of the 16 chapters in the book/cd package.

Although a lot of Monique’s life is covered in the book, the story does focus on two particular turning points in her life: when her life fell apart at the age of 20; and when she severed all contact with her father ten years later.

“Around the age of twenty and twenty-one is when my world was turned upside down. It was then that I began to realise the reality of the abuse and this really shattered my life,” Monique said.

“When I think about the rest of my twenties, they are a bit of a blur.”

As Monique explains in her book, these were the years when she was in and out of psychiatric units as the full impact of the trauma she’d experienced as a child was being felt.

Noticeably absent from Fragments of Home is any mention of intimate relationships. In my discussions with Monique Lisbon, it became clear to me that although she is frank and honest when speaking about her experiences of abuse, this is one part of her life she is determined to keep just for herself.

The second turning point for Monique came in her early thirties when she severed all contact with her father and ended the therapeutic relationship with the psychiatrist she had been seeing for twelve years.

Monique explains, “I started seeing a trauma therapist in my early thirties and was able to evaluate the previous twelve years and I write about this shift from seeing it as a ‘sickness’, to seeing it as manifestations of trauma.”

The other significant turning point for Monique was when she severed all contact with her father in her early thirties. “Up until that point I was kind of living in two realities,” she said.

“In the book I talk about having a family therapy session where I confront my father about the abuse and then having dinner with him and my mother at a restaurant immediately afterwards.”

After freeing herself from her abuser and from a world where she was defined as ‘sick’, Monique Lisbon really came into her own as a singer/songwriter and a public speaker on the subject of childhood sexual abuse.

Monique has sung and given talks in centres against sexual assault in Victoria and participated in public forums. She has spoken on radio and TV and given talks at high schools and for the Department of Health and Human Services in Tasmania. Although she does come across survivors of childhood sexual abuse on a regular basis, the bulk of her talks and workshops are targeted to people who work with the survivors, or come in contact with survivors of abuse as part of their job.

“I don’t work directly with survivors of abuse. The work I do is more about helping others to understand the kinds of obstacles survivors face,” Monique said.

As will become evident when you read Fragments of Home, the church is a big part of Monique Lisbon’s life. Against the wishes of her father, she became a Christian as a teenager and today she runs her own non-denominational Ministry. She is regularly asked to perform her music and give talks about her experiences at churches and she has been a guest lecturer at theological colleges in Victoria.

Monique says she is happy to speak and perform at a range of venues. If you would like Monique Lisbon to speak and/or perform her music at your church or organisation, please contact her via her website at www.monomusic.com.au

When she is not working to raise awareness about the issues faced by survivors of childhood sexual abuse, or belting out a song to an adoring crowd (she does have a lovely voice), Monique Lisbon runs her own business, Mono Unlimited, a computer, printing, publishing and music production business based in Melbourne.

Fragments of Home: Piecing Life Together after Childhood Sexual Abuse is published in Australia by Braidwood Press and is available now for $29.95 from both the Mono Unlimited and MonoMusic websites.

I would like to thank Monique Lisbon for speaking with Australian Women Online.

Photo Credit: Julian Di Stefano, Nuance Image Photography

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