#FridayGuest: Catherine Wyatt-Morley & Jalyon Welsh-Cole, authors of I Am The Product of Rape


Catherine Wyatt-Morley is the founder, chief executive officer and heartbeat of Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit social service organization for the at-risk and HIV-positive community. In 1994, Wyatt-Morley founded Women On Reasons To Heal (W.O.R.T.H.), the first and what has become the oldest HIV-positive women’s support group in Middle Tennessee. 

Wyatt-Morley has appeared in countless media outlets nationwide, including SELF Magazine, the Today Show, A&U Magazine, POZ Magazine, CNN, Voices of America, MSNBC, Talk America Radio, FX Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the Palm Beach Post, the Indianapolis Indiana Recorder, the Los Angeles Times, the Canadian Sun, Nashville Scene, and the Tennessean. 

Jalyon Welsh-Cole has been director of Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit social service organization, since 2010. Welsh-Cole began writing when she was very young, starting with short stories and poems. As a teen, she was inspired to draw, finding comfort and creativity in her art. She joined forces with Wyatt-Morley to share her story in I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR. Together, they also have created #HealingSecretHurts workshops, which bring the spectrum of traumatizing sexual assault into the light.

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BOOK BLURB:

The phrase “secrets and lies” takes on terrible new meaning in Catherine Wyatt-Morley’s devastating book, I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR.

Wyatt-Morley’s shocking story traces the repeated patterns of rape and incest that plagued four generations of her family, including Wyatt-Morley’s birth in a filthy basement to her 12-year-old mother, who was sexually abused by her step-father.

“…In the process of writing this book, an extremely difficult journey that has taken years, I was taken to unfamiliar destinations and exposed to unfathomable pain,” Wyatt-Morley relates. “Part of that pain was learning that I was created through the atrocities of incest by a brutally manipulative monster and, while only moments old, (I was) denied by a heartless grandmother who never bothered to look at me.”   

Wyatt-Morley wrote I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR, she says, “as my way of dealing with my personal healing. But through conversations with many diverse women, I quickly began seeing I was not alone. So many had never told anyone of the abuse that has happened to them; yet they have a need to heal, to not feel isolated.”

Wyatt-Morley’s daughter, Jalyon Welsh-Cole, also suffered the terrible legacy of her family when she was abused by her eldest brother. She wrote the epilogue to I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR, an essay she called BURNING HOUSE, in response to the continued pattern of abuse that formed her familial legacy.

“Most of my family members who have learned of this are dealing with it as well as one can,” Welsh-Cole says. “However, others are still in disbelief and struggle to understand. For over two decades I kept this heinous secret to myself. I have had time to bury it, cry over it, and finally seek therapy and come to grips with it.

Welsh-Cole’s mother’s story “made me feel as if our bloodline was full of secrets and lies that I wanted to expose,” she continues. “I knew after learning of my grandmother’s story that I wasn’t alone. Today, I cannot allow this to continue to happen in our family.”

As dark and unrelenting as it is, the story told in I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR leads to a conclusion of overcoming tremendous odds, leaving readers riveted, inspired, and empowered.

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What’s inside the mind of a nonfiction author?

Nonfiction authors’ minds are not any different from any others but, we do have a tenacious desire to impart wisdom and lived experience shining a floodlight on the truth we all know exists but are sometimes too fearful to talk about.

 

What is so great about being an author?
 
I have a passion for educating and empowering others. I have a personal need to tell my story. I am grateful of having my name on the jacket of I Am the Product of Rape—A Memoir, and for the privilege of having my words available to an audience of readers around the world. Lastly, I am humbled to be ability to use our movement in bridging the gaps of sexual assault disparities.

When do you hate it?

I have not yet experienced a reason to hate being an author.

What is a regular writing day like for you?

Typically I write at night, unless I’m on a time frame in which I must write during the day. My night would consist of me, a dark room and my laptop.


How do you handle negative reviews?

I Am the Product of Rape—A Memoir, my mother and I have received exceptional reviews. I Am the Product of Rape—A Memoir has proven to be therapeutic for readers. However, my mother and I are fully aware that everyone is entitled to their own option. We are strong believers in not being bully’s.  There are ways of relaying what you want to say in a productive none bullying manner.

How do you handle positive reviews?

For I Am the Product of Rape—A Memoir and the subjects discussed, positive reviews would be those of overcoming trauma, having the courage to find one’s biological family, seeking mental health services for past trauma, or being courageous enough to stop abuse from continuing. We are blessed to have had such a positive impact and we hope I Am the Product of Rape—A Memoir will continue to receive positive reviews and help people heal.


What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

Fascination, most people are very interested and inquisitive.  They don’t see what went into the process of becoming an author, they only see the results.  Being an author to me is not about the frills it’s about the passion and drive to share your words with the world and make a difference.


What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

True believer that self-care is the best care, if I’m just not feeling it I will take a break even if it’s only for a few hours. Forced writing for me is NOT me best style of writing.

Any writing quirks? 

I don’t really have many quirks about my writings but I guess one thing I think is unique about my writing style is that I write my best stuff at night in the dark when my son has went to bed. I seem to drift into my thoughts easier during this time have written great work because of it.

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?

I would continue to write, I cannot allow others to dictate the outcome of my passion or what I enjoy doing.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?

OH, Yes! Very much. I love the act of writing and getting my thoughts out on paper. However I hate actually typing and reading. I find this to be an issue in a lot of authors. 

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?

My mother and I will measured I Am the Product of Rape—A Memoir success when it and our other materials are available to most everyone that need them, when I Am the Product of Rape ―A Memoir is translated into the worlds languages and when I Am the Product of Rape ―A Memoir and our other materials help the global platform eliminate disparities.

What has writing taught you?

Writing has open my vocabulary and expanded my communication skills.  I have learned better ways to communicate with the world through words by sharing what I write. I have learned it’s not what you say, but how you say it. The power of observation, reasoning and problem solving, increased knowledge of grammar, fearlessness and taking chances has provide self-growth.

Leave us with some words of wisdom.

I would like to close by telling our readers that it is ok to speak out about trauma. It’s ok to seek help regardless of your upbringing or race. It’s important that people understand that silence is the gateway to mental health issues and by seeking help you reduce your mental health crises dramatically. For those like me that have endured trauma through a mental health facility I say, please do not give up seeking support and help. It took me several attempts to find the therapist that fits best for me and my trauma. Make sure you are seeking a professional who is skilled in your type of trauma. I didn’t know I should be aware of that so I’ll pass that advice on to those readers who need it. 

Lastly, I would say the support of best friends, a close trusted relationship, is vital. When you’re having rough days healing or days that just seem to be a struggle to make it through that person can carry you when you can’t carry yourself. For me, that person is my best friend, my mentor, my amazing mother. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her selfless support with my grueling mental health issues. She has never complained and is always there having my back.

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