“My Dad Abused Me, And May Have Killed My Mom. Everyone Tells Me I Need To Write A Book About My Life! Where Should I Begin?”

“My Dad Abused Me, And May Have Killed My Mom. Everyone Tells Me I Need To Write A Book About My Life! Where Should I Begin?”

***There are millions of people with fascinating stories to tell. Unfortunately, many of these survival stories deal with abuse. I receive numerous emails like this one each year. The email below has been anonymized by me. The actual facts revealed in the email were horrific.

~~~

Hi Angela,

I would love to be able to share my life story. I have been told for years to write a book. Thing is, I have no idea on where to begin.

I am the single mother of four children. I got pregnant the first time when I was 16. My mom died in car accident when I was pregnant so I ended up raising my three siblings. My dad was driving that night and, after years of abusing my mom and us, we suspected he wrecked the car that way on purpose. The pole he hit was on her side of the car. He had minor injuries. The day after the funeral, he moved in with his mistress and we hardly saw him after that. He got all the life insurance money and gave nothing to me and my siblings. He spent it all before the courts could intervene.

The abuse didn’t stop there. Even after I became an adult, and moved out on my own, he would come to my house and beat me up. Once, he did it in front of my children. I didn’t turn him in all those years because he was the only parent I had left. After he abused me in front of my children, I finally got smart, and got up the nerve to get an order of protection against him.

My dad and his wife are still alive. Recently, they stole an inheritance from another relative.

There is so much more to tell. I want to write a book, partly to tell my story and also so I can make some money from it since I’m a single mom.

Where should I start?

 

I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice. The information below is my opinion only. Please consult your attorney for questions about the legalities of writing and publishing non-fiction, especially where abuse is concerned.

Your story does indeed sound very interesting and I’m sure it would be of interest to many readers. However, there is a pretty significant legal liability associated with publishing such a story. I am sure that your father and/or stepmother would like nothing more than to file a lawsuit against you if you publish such a story. Many mean people (and their lawyers) assume that all authors and their publishers are wealthy. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. But, even if you’re broke, that won’t stop a slimy lawyer from filing a lawsuit against you.

If I were you, I would publish it as fiction based on actual events, and anonymize EVERYTHING in the story. The book could still tell the story, and provide lessons for people who read it, while not identifying or revealing you or your family members’ identities. Unfortunately you would need to keep the fact that you are the author a secret from everyone. If even one person reads the book, and can identify your father or stepmother or anyone else who was criticized in the book, they could sue you, even if you don’t name them. Please read the following articles for more advice but, again, you need to discuss this with an attorney.

 

12 Ways to Avoid Getting Sued When Writing Your Memoirs

Don’t Invite a Lawsuit with Your Memoir

Don’t Invite Lawsuits by Real People Featured in Your Book! (Hint: You Can Still Be Sued Even If You Don’t Name Them!)

Boldly Assuming You “Can’t Be Sued” Will Likely Lead to a Lawsuit

Publishing Other People’s Non-fiction Stories Can Get You Sued

Want to Get Sued? Write About Your Ex

Am I at Risk of Being Sued?

Did Your Lawyer Say, “You Can’t Be Sued?” BEWARE

When Relatives Say, “Don’t Write About Me!”

How to Novelize Your Life Story or Family History

 

 

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