Marion Witte was raised in a little house on the prairie, but her childhood was nothing like the idyllic version of childhood made famous by Laura Ingalls.
Witte’s story has its roots in immigrant grandparents who struggle to make a living on the harsh Midwestern plains. Unbelievable hardship, alcoholism, abuse and abandonment were the norm during her youth.
Witte endured punishments that had devastating emotional effects. She was often locked in a dark, dirty cellar with the rats and mice, terrifed and too little to turn on the light bulb that hung high above her.
As Witte retells the circumstances of her youth, it becomes clear that this book is much more than a compelling story of childhood mistreatment. The crux of her story maintains that once abuse stops, the psychological damage lingers. (Read rest of synopsis here.)
(Synopsis via Goodreads)
* * *
As I read the synopsis for Little Madhouse on the Prairie, I felt as though I were stepping back into my childhood. Many similarities existed between Marion Elizabeth Witte’s life and my own as expressed in those few paragraphs. There was no way I could not read this book. I wanted to know more about this woman.
Witte’s life on the prairie was definitely not the stuff of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s version we are all so accustomed to envisioning when we hear the words “Little House on the Prairie.” It is the word “Madhouse” in Witte’s title that should draw us up short.
Witte writes with raw and painful honesty and clarity of what happened behind the walls of that little house on the prairie. Not much love, compassion and care was shared with Witte and her siblings. Her father, an alcoholic and abuser, more or less ignored Witte. For a time before the youngest of three children was born, Witte could look to her older brother for what she needed in the way of emotional support and encouragement. Then he too turned his back on her favoring the youngest child.
Witte’s brother was even drawn into her abuses by their mother instructing him to lock Witte in the cellar in the dark — no windows, no light, only the dark and sounds and cold. At the time, Witte was only five years old. The little house was not a home; it was a house of horrors.
Witte narrates for us the journey she has taken from that five-year old in the dark basement to a denial of her treatment to her own self-awareness and healing from the treatment she received. Using her narration, she invites into the child’s mind — why did no one protect her? or the cousin who was abused by Witte’s father’s brother? where were the adults who were to take care of children?
As an adult, Witte experiences many difficulties in relationships and through some miracle seeks help in a variety of therapeutic methods. She finds healing and turns her pain into efforts to advocate for abused children.
Through sharing her story, Marion Elizabeth Witte offers the gift of hope to those who need healing or who are healing that there is recovery. For professionals treating patients who were or are victims of child abuse, she sheds light on the needs of these victims.
With bravery and courage, Witte has taken to the page her story of abuse, neglect and pain. She has touched others with her story of vulnerability, determination and healing.
For those who were victims of childhood abuse who are still attempting to find healing and recovery, for spouses and family members of these victims, and for professionals treating patients who are victims of childhood abuse. An excellent look into what goes on behind closed doors and windows and the impact of the hidden scars of verbal and emotional abuse.
* * *
Meet the Author:
Marion Witte is an author, public speaker, and Certified Public Accountant, with a life-long career of managing and owning business ventures.
She founded and manages the Angel Heart Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to supporting positive parenting and youth empowerment. She is the Editor in Chief of the Next Generation Parenting and Brave New Leaders websites. Ms. Witte’s memoir – Little Madhouse on the Prairie – relays the story of her childhood, in hopes of opening readers’ eyes to the long-term effects of negative childhood experiences.
Marion resides in Ventura, California where she pursues her writing, philanthropic, and business activities.
(Bio from Goodreads)
* * *
UP NEXT: A brand new book, just out in fact, by Joanne Phillips of the UK introduces us to the engaging Flora Lively in Murder at the Maples. You’re going to want to read my review on Wednesday, September 18th.