Contains brief scenes of rape and forced drug use.
Some books demand to be written. This is one. And it also demands to be read. Ignoring domestic abuse cannot go on. Authors like Sarafina Bianco are sounding the alarm and we should listen. Heeding the alarm isn’t always easy because it forces people out of their comfort zone. The House on Sunset does just that.
Sarafina was a high school English teacher. She had recently purchased a new home, which was an accomplishment she was proud of. Not everything was going well, though. Her boyfriend of a year and half cheated on her.
Dealing with the betrayal and loneliness, Sarafina turned to the internet to find love. That was how she met Mike. At first Mike was perfect for her. Fun, loving, and there for her. Then he became her worst nightmare.
The House on Sunset includes reminiscences in the book that actually happened to the author and she wanted to share her story to give others the nerve to share theirs. This memoir is not an easy read. It’s well-written, but the subject matter is gut-wrenching. Right from the start, the author sets the tone with a scene where Mike has thrown Sarafina down the basement stairs and he beats her until the reader thinks she’s going to die. Has to die, since it seems implausible that someone can take so much abuse and survive.
Yet, she did. It was courageous to survive. And it was even braver to write a book about it. Domestic violence is too often swept under the rug. Some may consider it a private matter. Others don’t know how to react or what to say, so they choose to ignore. The author wants to shine a light on domestic abuse and to offer hope to those currently living in hell. For the author, ignoring is not an option. She explains:
My life was forever changed because the man I fell in love with manipulated me and used his physical size, professional reach and personal illness to strip me of my ability to live without terror.
Bianco’s writing is raw, emotional, and gripping. At first, when she meets Mike, all is well. But the reader knows that things will change. There’s this sense of dread. Waiting for the violence. It’s almost like what it was like for the author. Not knowing exactly when Mike would react the wrong way. Not knowing when the next attack would come. Always fearful. This part of the memoir is so well done. The reader knows she survives the abuse and leaves the abuser, but even this reassurance in the back of one’s mind isn’t enough. This is a terrifying book, since it feels so real and it happens more often than we would like to admit.
It’s not just the physical abuse that is sickening. It’s the emotional abuse. Bianco has left the relationship, but the relationship will never leave her.
Bravo for Sarafina Bianco for writing about her experiences with such honesty and pluck. Now, dear reader, are you courageous enough to read it? You should. We all should.