Wednesday, January 30, 2013


By Kathleen Hoy Foley

Adoption and abortion equal crisis pregnancy.  An unwanted conception is a militant invasion into a girl’s body, a woman’s body; biological warfare waged inside her skin.  It is physical and psychological attack.  Every cell plundered.  Every breath conscripted.  Her intimate organs battered, conquered.  Assaulted by her bodily systems.  Her external self disfigured.  Permanently scarred.  Her spirit brutalized by overwhelming shame.  She is cast aside while forced to inhabit a body turned enemy, tethered to a carcass that no longer belongs to her.  The agony of this physical and psychological violence endured by girls and women impregnated against their will is drowned out by the shouts of moral accusers, disregarded by cowards, and contorted to fit inside the sugarcoated fantasies of the naive and ignorant where such girls and women are forever imprisoned. 
Many of us entered the world at the expense of a minor child’s acute physical and emotional trauma.  Trauma that left her catastrophically injured with an unwanted pregnancy.  It is the story of my own birth.  Unverifiable.  Long buried beneath calcified silence.  I do not know who the biological male is but all signs point to a rapist.  I am also an adoptee.  The man who married my mother—the father who would abuse all the children in his household—eventually, secretly adopted me.  Then in an unimpeded race to fated doom, I, too, was impregnated by rape as a juvenile.  I escaped the rapist.  But not the angry adoptee who returned years later and destroyed the life I’d built. 
The relentless, ongoing, inescapable punishment of sexual assault was my inheritance, passed down from generation to generation, woman to girl.  It is cyclical insanity on steroids.  Unspoken catastrophe feeding on unspoken catastrophe feeding on unspoken catastrophe.  Not just my story but the epic story of silenced abuse.  Abuse that warps society.  Epidemic abuse that society itself perpetuates.

The hunting down of women has to stop.  Adoption equals crisis pregnancy—it represents profound female trauma.  A confidential adoption has become a loaded gun pointed at a broken woman.  The pursuit of her—sanctioned, encouraged, and celebrated—is akin to big game hunters stalking a reserve where trophy animals are trapped.  When the hunt for a woman begins, she has no safety, no protection; there is no place for her to hide.  She is completely dependent on the whims of the pursuer.  Laws forbid animal cruelty.  The trapped beast likely will be slaughtered swiftly, painlessly as possible.  There exists no such mercy for a woman who was once entrapped in an unwanted, crisis pregnancy.  Those who hunt her down kill her in stages.  It is emotional homicide—quiet, authorized, leisurely execution.   

It was gut wrenching, falling-off-a-cliff chilling when I could no longer refute the evidence surrounding my birth.  In a society that sells conception as a romance of candles, flowers, and sweet love there I was, spawned in violence.  I could not bear for it to be true; could not bear to carry the slur of its implication.  The weight of it settled over me in a sinister, roiling gloom and I began the slide downward into its seductive arms.  But stopped myself pretty damn fast.  That was a hell I was not about to create for myself.  Or recreate for my mother.

Whatever the details of my conception are, they do not belong to me.  The shattering violation of her personal boundaries bound my mother inside a hell inconceivable to most outsiders.  When my time came I, too, cowered silently inside that same hell.  To obligate any woman to an unwanted pregnancy, to force her public, to coerce her into exposing the particulars of a crisis so profoundly intimate is to strip her of all dignity, of all protection, and instill her with terror.  It forces a woman to lie to appease the pursuer—a bully—in an effort to safeguard herself, her life, her family.  Or forces her into deep hiding.  Or keeps her constantly on the lookout, always on the run. 

A crisis pregnancy represents grave trauma.  It is not a romantic fantasy, or cause for celebration, or a moral failure.  A woman forced to endure an unwanted pregnancy is not anyone’s link to emotional survival, the missing piece to a familial puzzle, or the answer to someone’s misery.   

Adoption equals crisis pregnancy.  Abortion equals the end of a crisis pregnancy.  Some of us made it here.  Some did not.  Those of us who did have choices to make.  We can choose courage.  We can choose cowardice.  We can choose to build.  We can choose to destroy.  What we do with our opportunities, how we handle what haunts us, reveals who we are.  It is always, always our choice.       

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Not All Trauma Victims Are Treated Equally

by Philip Foley

Have you ever considered who you validate as a “true” trauma victim?  The people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I’d like you to ponder this thought for a bit.  To gain insight into why you may not treat all victims of a catastrophic injury the same way, you may want to examine the culture, religion, and social conditions in which you were raised and live in.

Perhaps part of the problem is that not all catastrophic injury is evident.  I do not suggest in any way that the PTSD suffered from a visible injury is any less traumatic than a covert, hidden injury only that they are both equally traumatic.  My wife was impregnated by rape as a young teen and was forced to live with secret, crippling trauma for most of her adult life.  Not knowing what to look for made it difficult for me to recognize the signs of acute trauma. 

It is fairly easy to empathize with someone who suffers the loss of a limb or is known to be battling cancer. What is more difficult is when the trauma comes from an invisible, covert or "unacceptable" source.  The vast majority of child abuse and sexual assault’s are not witnessed.  Most often there are no visible signs.

Thankfully, today our society publicly supports our military personnel.  We are better at accepting that not all the catastrophic war injuries are obvious to us.  We have a greater understanding of the consequences of sending our youth off to protect our freedom.  Those of us who remember the returning Viet Nam vets know this was not always the case.

We can use this same parallel to address how we treat victims of sexual assault and other unseen traumatic events.  Perhaps you are already aware that over 25 percent of our children are victims of sexual assault before they reach the age of 18.  If over 25 percent of our population had the bird flu, our government would mobilize into high gear to stop the epidemic.  Yet this epidemic of sexual assault is greatly ignored.  The ignored traumas of these victims eventually implode or explode. The personal, social and cultural cost of this unrecognized trauma is substantial. 

As individuals and as a society we can help all victims of trauma.  We can begin by educating ourselves and others about the signs of trauma and by extending compassion to the victims.  We can support trauma victims by encouraging them to speak about what happened to them, by not turning away because we are uncomfortable.  We can reflect back to them their goodness, their courage.  We must withhold our requirement for them to “forgive” and to “heal,” and allow them to discover their own path.

Through this shared journey of understanding with a victim, we in turn gain a greater understanding of ourselves. When a victim of PTSD is provided the time needed to dispel misconceptions, discover unknown truths, and acquire better understanding of themselves and their ordeal, we will be rewarded with knowing a person experiencing a full life, with a freedom that comes from acknowledgement of the torment that held them prisoner.

My wife and I encourage all victims to acknowledge what was “done to them” and speak.

With compassion and an open mind we can make life a little better for ALL those who suffer from a PTSD. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Kathleen Hoy Foley

Rumor has it that a fancy country singer is on the hunt for the old lady, the one who scrawled her name across the dotted line of an important document—that would be adoption papers for those of you who can’t read between the lines—some forty plus, plus years ago.  Back when the old lady was a broken doll of a girl frantic to find a way to keep breathing, never imagining her future involved being chased down by a twanging guitar and rhinestone boots. 

I feel for Fancy Country Singer, I really do.  It is so hard when life isn’t perfect.  Really.  It is.  A gorgeous voice, a legendary career, a cool husband, talented and beautiful kids, mansions, hot cars, pimped-out tour buses, and loads of cash are all over-rated.  I guess Fancy Country Singer’s life won’t be truly perfect until she digs up the old lady, wraps her in homespun, pushes her into a rocking chair, jumps on her lap, and demands a Vagina Fairytale, country style. 

I could be wrong about this, but I’m betting that Fancy Country Singer will include a decent incentive in exchange for the old lady’s submission to Fancy Country Singer’s Vagina Fairytale that she’s been concocting since she could spell the word A.D.O.P.T.I.O.N and now wants to put to music and sing at her sold out concerts.  Personally, I hope the old lady holds out for a substantial upgrade to the life that Fancy Country Singer with her gorgeous voice, legendary career, cool husband, talented and beautiful kids, mansions, hot cars, and pimped-out tour buses is poised to destroy.  The old lady will need loads of cash to rebuild once Fancy Country Singer bursts onto the scene with her rhinestone meat cleaver. 

Therapy is expensive, after all.  So is a cushy retirement.  I’m thinking Florida.  Sun is good.  Or Arizona if the old lady develops stress related asthma and favors golf.  Or even Hawaii where she could live out her girlhood fantasies of body surfing with dim-witted, looker dudes once she ditches the walker and sentimental ties to her former times.  I’m pulling for Hawaii.  And, of course, cash.  Lots of it.

Naturally, I am partial to the old lady, being a hunted-down-old-lady myself, which has left me with a very bad humor.  Very bad.  Not that the old lady being stalked by Fancy Country Singer shares my nasty attitude.  She might not object to a stranger hiring oily detectives to burrow into her past and tail her to the grocery store where she buys disposable senior unmentionables.  Maybe the old lady views panting dogs tracking her as motivation to keep her biceps buffed for the wheelchair races she competes in.  Chances are that the old lady’s life is miserable and pathetic anyway and the intrusion of a Fancy Country Singer stalker could bring thrills that bingo and card games just can’t provide.  Plus all the rhinestones the old lady ever dreamed about.  Excuse me while I imagine the possibilities: rhinestone-studded granny pants; a rhinestone bib to complement a rhinestone cane.  Rhinestone bowling shoes if the old lady can balance long enough to push a rhinestone ball down a long alley to knock over a few pins adorned with, what else?  Rhinestones.  Endless promise of dazzle… 

Take it from me, what a hunted-down old lady wants more than public exposure of the catastrophic pregnancy she secretly endured a lifetime ago and a Fancy Country Singer parked on her doorstep whining about the unfairness of life is rhinestones.  True, rhinestones are not in the same category as diamonds—which the old lady should insist upon—but being pursued by a stalker adoptee and a merciless private eye makes an old woman weak, willing to settle, given to fake smiles and big lies, like: I love you Fancy Country Singer, which Fancy Country Singer will believe.  Because Fancy Country Singer is pretty dumb.  And pretty desperate.  And does not understand that the old lady too is desperate, but not dumb, and will spin anything, anything, including a Vagina Fairytale, just to get Fancy Country Singer with her gorgeous voice, legendary career, cool husband, talented and beautiful kids, mansions, hot cars, and pimped-out tour buses to GO AWAY.

But that’s not going to happen for the old lady, is it?  Stalkers and private eyes just don’t go away.  Neither do rat dogs once they catch the scent.  And believers in Vagina Fairytales, even if they are fancy and famous, are impervious to reason and impossible to shake. 

Still, I’m pulling for the old lady.  But I hope she likes rhinestones.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


We are not activists, Phil and I, at least we never set out to be.  All that changed when a stranger-adoptee refusing to accept "no contact" for an answer, rampaged into our family inflicting such personal damage I did not think I could survive.

The stranger-adoptee had gained access to my confidential personal and medical information from records legally and permanently sealed by State of New Jersey.

Thousands of women in this country now in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond experienced catastrophic pregnancies as girls and young women and with no other options available, were forced to give birth.  For many of us, adoption--our confidentiality guaranteed by permanently sealed records--gave us our lives back.  Giving birth does not make you a mother any more than abortion does.
Today these women, many of them elderly, face threats of being hunted down and found by stranger-adoptees and the dread of their secret pasts being exposed to friends and family, including their children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren.  I was  subjected to that naked exposure and it is an anguish unimaginable, practically unexplainable to those who have not suffered such inexcusable public humiliation. 

The New Jersey State Government, (and many other states) at the insistence of adoptees, is opening or seriously considering unsealing confidential adoption records.  Every girl/woman listed in those records will be coerced into the frequent relinquishment of her private medical information for the rest of her life to a stranger-adoptee; perhaps beyond, by way of surviving relatives.  Government actions will insure that whatever event brought about the secret, catastrophic pregnancy--rape, incest or any traumatic situation--will be exposed and forever attached to that woman's legacy, to be relived with each mandated medical update. 

For over a decade Phil has been on a one-man mission to combat this injustice.  He pounds on the doors of legislators.  He shouldered his way into testifying before the N.J. Human Services Committee.  He talks to anyone who will listen about this sanctioned cruelty toward aging women.  Together we have appeared on television news, granted interviews to newspapers and written op eds.  I have written a book.

My own personal mission is to speak the ugly in terms that cannot be misunderstood or romanticized.  To validate victims of sexual violence and other forms of abuse by illustrating with raw clarity the harrowing details hidden beneath society's sanitized labels of rape, incest, abuse, stalking, birth mother--all the nearly polite, acceptable descriptions that ignore and deny horrors experienced by victims of such ordeals.      

The women hiding these horrors include our mothers and grandmothers.  Our great-grandmothers.  Women too ashamed, too gracious to reveal sexual traumas buried in their pasts.  Women who serve Thanksgiving dinners and wrap birthday presents.  Women we never want to imagine being forced into sexual acts.  Women who bear that agony in silence for a lifetime.  Because sexual abuse is a life-long sentence that no amount of love or therapy can erase.

It was not until I faced what hid in the dark and expressed it as powerfully as I experienced it, did I begin to reclaim some of what was stolen from me.  By speaking the ugly, the past began to release its power over me.  However uncomfortable I am depicting the realities of abuse, I believe that each time I choose to speak, I validate not only my own ordeal but that of every woman in hiding.
So, yes, if speaking out is considered activism, then I suppose Phil and I are activists.  

If you are a woman fearful of being exposed through the unsealing of confidential adoption records and have a story to tell the N.J. legislators and the Human Services Committee, please feel free to contact us (anonymously is fine) and we will make sure your voice is heard.  Or perhaps you are from another state and simply want to express your outrage.

If you are a woman of age and have been concealing the secret of sexual abuse in your past, please know that we invite you to speak your own ugly here.  You may contact us by regular mail or email. 

Kathleen & Phil Foley

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How would you know if someone you love suffers from PTSD?

Post by Philip Foley 

As a police officer in a major New Jersey city for 25 years, I met many victims of obvious trauma.  Many more were not so obvious.  Their trauma was a consequence of covert and sustained violence revealed only in their eyes.  They were the mute, unseen victims of violence.
I met my wife when she was 17, in the early 60’s.  On the surface her family looked like any other regular middle class suburban family.  I didn’t know that she was suffering with severe PTSD, nor did she.  She buried what had happened to her “before us” and had no tools to even identify herself as a victim.  I couldn’t help—I didn’t know the “code.”
For thirty years her symptoms were there, only I attributed them to quirks: irrational fears I could not understand and she could not explain; panic attacks; unexplained emotional reactions after social gatherings; trouble sleeping.
Then the day came when my wife’s “before us” exploded into our lives.
Now 16 years later, both of us in our 60’s, we have a much greater understanding of how PTSD victims perceive the world around them.  Of how difficult it is for them to assign responsibility to those who failed to protect them.  And how by offering perspective, not advice you will greatly help a PTSD sufferer live a more fully realized life.
PTSD affects everyone connected to the victim.  There is no easy fix.  But with love, true support and time, victims can integrate the “them before trauma” and the “them after trauma” and become whole and truly enjoy a full and happy life.
My wife’s book, “Woman In Hiding, A True Tale of Back Door Abuse, Dark Secrets and Other Evil Deeds” describes her journey from brokenness to understanding and into wholeness.  It is our sincere hope that her words can transmute her ordeal into education for professionals and validation and understanding for women suffering—unseen and unheard—from trauma they cannot and dare not name.
Additionally; we offer a Social Arts Project “Silenced Women Speak” for victims to express their experience in art or verse.
For more information on my wife’s book and the Social Arts Project please visit  or contact us at

Friday, January 18, 2013


Women In Hiding Press celebrates the voices of silenced women.

Women In Hiding Press promotes the personal, spiritual and social necessity—and responsibility—of speaking what is wrongly regarded in our society as unspeakable.

The imperative of Women In Hiding Press is to speak the unspeakable, to articulate through literary voice, artistic expression, and social challenge the rampant but dismissed reality of covert violence committed against girls and women and its unseen, devastating consequences.

The mission of Women In Hiding Press is to classify and validate socially and culturally ignored and disavowed abuse, to give essential structure and accurate definition to this violence committed at the edge of perception. Our goal is to negate the restrictive and prejudiced cultural and religious attitudes, and arbitrary social criterion for defining instances of sexual, physical and emotional violence against girls and women.

The objective of Women In Hiding Press is to give authority and honor to women’s voices—their silenced victim voices—and to reeducate and empower girls and women to witness and name—and declare—the abuse they suffered. Our purpose is to support and encourage every woman victimized by abuse to break the crippling tradition of silence and to take command of her story and transform it into personal power.

For more information about Women in Hiding Press, visit, or email at