Book explores healing

Posted: August 16, 2013

The Winchester Star

Joseph Williams takes a walk near his Frederick County home recently. Williams wrote “From Screams to Whispers.” (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)
Joseph Williams of Frederick County, author of “From Screams to Whispers,” will have a book signing Saturday at the Winchester Book Gallery. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)

Winchester — Angi Williams knows the power that pain and shame can hold over a life.

For more than two decades, she has dealt with the emotional and physical aftermath of surviving a horrific experience as a teenager.

The journey she took to find peace and healing is explored in “From Screams to Whispers,” a book written by her husband, Joseph Williams, 42, of Frederick County.

The message the couple, who have been married for four years, want to share is that it is normal to experience pain after a traumatic experience, but it is possible to survive it with love and help, she said.

“He had the idea to get it out and let people know you are not abnormal or crazy. You have suffered something real and tragic and there is help,” Angi, 40, said.

Joseph will talk about the couple’s experience and sign copies of his book at a signing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Winchester Book Gallery, 185 N. Loudoun St. The book, which was published in April, is $19.95.

In 1986, Angi said she was taken from Apple Blossom Mall at age 13 by a group of people whom she thought she could trust. They raped her, beat her, tortured her, and left her for dead.

She said she was too afraid and ashamed to tell police or even her parents what happened, so charges were never brought. “At that time, people didn’t talk about rape.”

But the experience changed her, making her an angry teen who fought, lashed out, cut herself, and attempted suicide. “You build a wall up where no one can reach you.”

Over the years, she went through various forms of counseling and medical treatment, but what helped most was God and her husband helping her face her pain, she said.

As Joseph wrote in the introduction to the book, writing about these things did not come easy. It was a struggle at times for her to relive and share what she went through.

The book is not a tell-all that names her assailants or even the family members she hid her pain from after the attack, she said.

Although it was hard, the Williamses both hope it will give people a better understanding of people like her –— “people who have emotional handicaps, people who are shy, withdrawn, not outgoing. People who live with fear, depression, anxiety, self-loathing.”

The couple didn’t set out to write a book, he said. He encouraged his wife to put her feelings on paper so she could “face what she was terrified of and help get it out.”

They would jump around to different places or emotions depending on what she could handle at the time, he said. He didn’t pressure her to give more than she could, just to share some of the burden.

Most of the book is written in his voice, telling in an almost conversational voice about his wife’s history and personality. For some parts, including her attack, she tells the story herself.

The Williamses are not counselors and don’t claim to have all the answers, Joseph said. They just know what helped them and wanted to share that and hopefully help others.

Angi credited her husband with being there as a “punching bag, anchor, and comforter” and letting her know that what she went through didn’t define her to him. The couple has known each other for years, even attending the same church growing up.

The book talks about their faith as Christians and learning to keep trusting in him “instead of blaming him and wondering why he allowed it,” she said.

Information

Winchester Book Gallery, 185 N. Loudoun St., will have a book signing for Joseph Williams’ “From Screams to Whispers” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The book is $19.95. For more information, contact the store at 540-667-3444.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com