was first published in 1989 by Magnificat Press and titled How Our Family Coped with Incest. It was not easy to write, and it was even harder to find a publisher. Editors I met at writers’ conferences told me I was an excellent writer and our story needed to be told, but they did not want to publish a book about incest.
For five years and through forty-two rejection slips I kept looking for a publisher. Had I given up, I’m certain Write His Answer Ministries and the Greater Philly and Colorado Christian Writers Conferences would not exist today.
Much has changed since the 1970s when our family struggled to help my half-sister, Mandy, who had been sexually abused by her father. There was no social media or #MeToo movement to encourage those who had been abused to tell their story and receive the help they needed to recover. There were few professionals trained to provide hope and healing to victims or to extended families who stepped in to help.
We tried. We often failed. But we kept trying. It would have been easier to give up, but we chose to keep loving Mandy and keep trusting the Lord for the strength and wisdom we lacked. And He was and is faithful!
Today, Mandy is safely home with the Lord. She “fought the good fight” and is at peace. And now, there’s no longer a need to use my pen name, Jessica Martin.
Father, please use #MyFamilyToo! in Ephesians 3:20 ways to encourage many to “Live Your Answer.”
“Some issues are hard to think about, let alone live through. Incest is one of these topics. How does someone come alongside the victim and offer hope and faith when God seemed absent for years? Marlene came to the rescue of her half-sister, offering a safe home and modeling the unconditional love of God. With honesty she shares the triumphs and the failures of the five years she and her family cared for Mandy. Highly recommended.”
Gayle Roper ~ A Widow’s Journey, Plain Truth
“Raw truth … difficult exposure … painful transparency … critical truth that wears a crown of hope. Marlene Bagnull has the courage to tell her family’s story of sexual abuse and incest, and the strength to do so without wallowing in a pool of accusation and blame. She lets victims know that victory can emerge even from the secret shadows.”
Michael Gantt ~ Speaker, Missionary, Author
“A compelling read taking you into the world of an abused child who was rescued and given a chance to heal through the love of her big sister. Powerful and freeing to anyone who has traveled this journey.”
Linda Evans Shepherd ~ author of Praying God’s Promises
“MyFamilyToo! is Paul and Marlene Bagnull’s highly personal account of taking in—and working with—Marlene’s younger half-sister, Mandy, a survivor of incest. Although Mandy displayed typical behavior problems of someone sexually abused, the Bagnull family stayed with her, loved her, and enabled her to overcome her painful childhood…. This book brings awareness to the lasting effects of abuse and the need to discuss it.”
Cecil Murphey ~ an abuse survivor and educator, is a New York Times’ bestselling author or coauthor of 140 books, including Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, 90 Minutes in Heaven, and People I Met at the Gates of Heaven: Who’s Going to be There Because of You?