Marion Zimmer Bradley: It’s Worse Than I Knew

Updated
Trigger warning: child rape, child abuse

Moira Greyland (MZB and Walter Breen’s daughter) has agreed to let me share her email.

This is really hard stuff to read, and I’ve just thrown up my lunch. I knew about none of this part of things until a few minutes ago.

Hello Deirdre.

It is a lot worse than that.

The first time she molested me, I was three. The last time, I was twelve, and able to walk away.

I put Walter in jail for molesting one boy. I had tried to intervene when I was 13 by telling Mother and Lisa, and they just moved him into his own apartment.

I had been living partially on couches since I was ten years old because of the out of control drugs, orgies, and constant flow of people in and out of our family “home.”

None of this should be news. Walter was a serial rapist with many, many, many victims (I named 22 to the cops) but Marion was far, far worse. She was cruel and violent, as well as completely out of her mind sexually. I am not her only victim, nor were her only victims girls.

I wish I had better news.

Moira Greyland.

Followed up with:

It should also be noted that Walter was convicted on 13 counts of PC 288 A, B, C, and D.

Oral sex was the least of anyone’s worries.

Link to the California Penal Code for context.

No. Words.

Mother’s Hands

I’ve updated this post to add two pieces by Moira Greyland with her permission. This is the first.

Reprinted with permission.

Mother’s Hands
© 2000 Moira Stern (Moira Greyland) in “honor” of my mother, Marion Zimmer Bradley

I lost my mother late last year
Her epitaph I’m writing here
Of all the things I should hold dear
Remember Mother’s hands

Hands to strangle, hands to crush
Hands to make her children blush
Hands to batter, hands to choke
Make me scared of other folk

But ashes for me, and dust to dust
If I can’t even trust
Mother’s hands.

They sent me sprawling across a room
The bathtub nearly spelled my doom
Explaining my persistent gloom
Remember Mother’s hands.

And hands that touched me way down there
I still pretend that I don’t care
Hands that ripped my soul apart
My healing goes in stop and start

Never a mark did she leave on me
No concrete proof of cruelty
But a cross-shaped scar I can barely see
The knife in Mother’s hands.

So Mother’s day it comes and goes
No Hallmark pretense, deep red rose
Except blood-red with her actions goes
It drips off Mother’s hands.

The worst of all my mother did
Was evil to a little kid
The mother cat she stoned to death
She told to me with even breath

And no remorse was ever seen
Reality was in between
Her books, her world, that was her life
The rest of us a source of strife.

She told me that I was not real
So how could she think I would feel
But how could she look in my eyes
And not feel anguish at my cries?

And so I give you Mother’s hands
Two evil, base, corrupted hands
And lest her memory forget
I’m still afraid of getting wet.

The bathtub scene makes me see red
With water closing over my head
No little girl should fear to die
Her mother’s fury in her eye!

But both her hands were choking me
And underwater again I’d be
I think she liked her little game
But I will never be the same

I’m still the girl who quakes within
And tries to rip off all her skin
I’m scared of water, scared of the dark
My mother’s vicious, brutal mark.

In self-admiring tones she told
Of self restraint in a story old.
For twice near death she’d beaten me,
And now she wants my sympathy.

I’ve gone along for quite awhile,
Never meant to make you smile
But here and now I make my stand
I really hate my mother’s hands.

They Did Their Best

By Moira Greyland

The cry of our day is to smile as we say
Something pat that sounds like understanding
And those of us left who still cry when bereft
Risk guilt trips upon our heads landing

Something pat that sounds like understanding
So the ones of us left Who still cry when bereft
Risk guilt trips upon our heads landing

For the party line now Is to claim that somehow
Everybody somehow did their best
So the ones who did wrong Goes the new New Age song
Aren’t to blame, we should lay this to rest.

But it’s lies, there are villains who are still out there killing
Or else for our courts there’s no need
Our jails are not filled With innocents willed
By a system corrupted with greed.

My mother did her best, yes she really did her best
To drown me for not being her willing lover
My daddy did his best, oh he really did his best
And forced his preteen boyfriends to bend over.

Some people are sick, like to make people suffer
Some people just turn a blind eye
But pretending a monster is ribbons and lace
May condemn a small child to die.

My husband was a cop and much child abuse had stopped
Like the mom who put her baby on the stove
She threw him out of sight but the smell she couldn’t hide
And she didn’t come out smelling like a rose.

Did that mommy do her best? Would you tell that little one
“Forgive her dear, she must have been insane”
Would you tell that to those burns, To that lie will you return
And hurt those shining eyes so full of pain?

A victim does his best, a victim does her best
To love and live and give up grief and malice
But when we had no love, but what came down from Above
It’s surprising we have not become more callous.

And how to learn to cope And not give up all my hope
Is painful far enough without your lies
But if you had seen me then With blood pouring off my skin
Would you have turned a deaf ear to my cries??

And told me “Mommy did her best, yes, she really did her best
So stop crying and stop bleeding and forgive her
To cut you she’s the right, and to throw you out of sight
And not love you till you sexually deliver!!

The Guardian Covers this Story

The Guardian has covered this story here.

Comments

    • says

      I don’t like the use of ableist words like moronic. However, I’ve seen several similar comments, so I’ll respond to this one as submitted, because some people are thinking similar things.

      Many of us have been through some really dark times, and we have the pieces that spoke to our hearts that got us through those times. It genuinely gives me no joy to know that, for those whom MZB’s works were those pieces, I’ve dislodged that for them.

      • says

        Thank you for this statement. Reading this brought me near tears, I’m both heartbroken to learn about this side of her, and sadly grateful to have learned this before getting the Mists of Avalon tattoo I had planned. Your sympathy toward those of us to whom MZB once meant so much is appreciated.

      • Commonpreyr says

        (Excuse the name handle. It comes from playing online shooting games and has nothing to do with Bradley-like behavior.)

        Calling an unintelligent person a moron is offensive. But using it for normal people makes a point about how they are (not) using their brains. I’d hate to lose it.

        That said, I’m not on a crusade for using it. Just a FWIW opinion for your consideration.

        Thank you for informing me about Bradley. I was disgusted to find almost nothing about this at Wikipedia.

  1. Zippy says

    I am inclined to believe Greyland’s allegations, if for no other reason than that Bradley covered up and facilitated her husband’s child abuse for many years. A person who would do that might very well be engaging in abuse herself. At the same time, however, I do not accept the notion that all claims of victimization must be accepted uncritically. I have some questions.

    1) Have you confirmed independently that this email is indeed from Moira Greyland?

    2) Have these allegations been made before, or is this the first time?

    3) Is there any corroborating evidence that would support some or all of Greyland’s account? Have other women alleged Bradley raped them as children?

    4) Greyland appears to have dedicated an album to her mother. If she was cruel and violent, why?

    • says

      Sorry it’s taken me a while to get to this comment. I was out all morning, and it was easier to wait until I was at a keyboard to type this much.

      1. As a local conrunner, I had Moira’s email address in my address book. Since she’d previously sung a concert after contact via that email address, and since I initiated the dialogue, I have every reason to believe the response was from her.

      2. They have been made before. Not so plainly spoken, so far as I’m aware. See Lisa’s deposition.

      3. I’m told that the grapevine knew, but I’ve not been told how much they knew or when it was known. Part of the reason I didn’t know, I suspect, is that I was from Southern California fandom. Even though I started attending cons in the late 70s, I don’t think I went to more than one or two cons MZB was at. As far as women, I don’t know of specific allegations, but if you look at Lisa’s testimony above, you’ll find that Moira’s brother also claimed that MZB sexually assaulted him. As a note: both Breen children changed their surnames, which is less common for men than women.

      4. I haven’t heard that album, but I’m guessing (based on having read the poem she wrote after her mother died) that it was not a happy fun dedication. Note that I’ve updated the post to add that and another piece.

      • says

        My album was intended to be of the kind of music my mother liked. My primary connection to fandom is her, and so it seemed a natural thing to, and yet, my heart has never truly been in it. The poems and songs that mean something to me are sad, sad, sad, and who would want to hear my despair or complaints? I have other albums planned, and none concern her. I teach voice, and mostly do not seek the public eye. What good is my art if it does not tell my heart?? — Moira Greyland

        • Sabine says

          Dear Moira,
          Poems and songs that mean something to you are worth being read and listened to. Even if they are sad, sad, sad and full of despair.
          Hang in there.

        • Tina says

          Moira,
          One of my favorite artists caught my attention because he was singing of death and heartbreak in a literal sense. Not light fluffy heartbreak, but the soul tearing kind that had one remembering their own. Your words are important! Not only to you but they can be to others as well. I encourage you to create your songs and let them be as sad, dark or literal as they need to be.

        • Josie says

          Dear Moira, So sorry to hear about your experiences. I wrote this for a leaflet some years back and wanted to share it with you. You are a brave and courageous woman and your words and actions will inspire and encourage others, I always say “use the shit in your life as fertiliser for the flower you truly are”… you are certainly a blossom for this world. Blessings from Josie

          Myths and Realities of Child Sexual Abuse

          Myth
          Imaginary; not really existent, falsehood

          Reality
          Being real; existent thing, the real nature of.

          The aim of this leaflet is to ultimately help protect children by addressing the myths and stating the realities of child sexual abuse.

          The immense suffering must not continue. We must act now and make the world a safe place for children. We must call on the leaders in power to support every child’s right to a childhood without pain and suffering,

          We need as adults to take responsibility for our children, to ensure childhood is a safe and loving place.

          Myth
          “Child sexual abuse doesn’t really happen… it’s very rare”
          Reality
          One in four to five female children have been or are being sexually abused.
          One in four to five male children have been or are being sexually abused

          Myth
          “The child is to blame”
          Reality
          The child is never, ever to blame.

          Myth
          “Child are sexual beings, it’s just about sex”
          Reality
          An acknowledgement that child are sexual beings does not imply that they are physically or emotionally wanting to, ready to, or able to participate in a sexual relationship with an adult. Never ever. There is nothing ‘sexual about sexual abuse. The use of the words ‘sexual’, ‘fondling’, ‘affair’ ‘sex’, particularly in the media, are misleading. Child sexual abuse (along with any form of rape/assault/abuse) is about control and the desire of the sex offender to feel more powerful over someone vulnerable and easy to control. So it is in fact child rape child molestation. It is terrified children. There is nothing “sexual” about them.

          Myth
          “Children entice adults and are equal participants, especially young teenage girls”
          Reality
          With their limited age and experience, children cannot be perceived to give truly informed consent and therefore incapable of sufficiently comprehending the sexual activity or its implications. Child sexual offenders justify their behaviour by choosing to interpret a child’s smile, affectionate cuddle, trusting and playful behaviour as signs of sexual interest and invitation. The child, innocent of adult sexuality, innuendo and conditioning cannot be aware of, or responsible for the adults chosen response to their normal, natural behaviour.

          Myth
          “Child abuse doesn’t concern the community and there are no real effects on victims”
          Reality
          The evidence is clear that any child sexually abused by an adult especially a trusted adult, suffers significant trauma which may have long lasting effects, particularly if child victims do not receive adequate help and support. These traumas can manifest in adolescence and/or adulthood in the form of self destructive behaviours, eating disorders, flashbacks, depression and withdrawal, drug and alcohol abuse, self-mutilation, suicide/suicide attempts, panic attacks, phobias, sleep disturbances, anger and low self esteem among others. The implication on society is obvious.

          Myth
          “Sexual abuse only happens in poor families”
          Reality
          Sexual abuse is ignorant of any social background, culture or subculture. It happens in middle class, rich, poor and working class families.

          Myth
          “Male sex offenders who abuse little boys are homosexual”
          Reality
          The majority of sex offenders are heterosexual and in a relationship with a woman.

          Protecting the Children

          What can you do to help prevent child sexual abuse?
          • Teach your children about safety.
          • Ask your child’s school if they run a child sexual abuse prevention/awareness program. If there isn’t one… ask why not?
          • Get political, contact leaders, question the media, speak out in your community
          • Let people know if an abuser is in your neighbour
          • Promote a culture of truth

          What do I do if I suspect a child I know is being sexually abused?
          • Do not assume others are acting. You may be the child’s only lifeline,
          • Seek help and support from people in services that deal with child sexual abuse.
          • Remember you may save a lifetime of pain.

          “True hero’s use their heart, be a brave heart and help protect our children”

          “Protect the Children”

          • says

            Josie,
            Thank you for the wisdom. I copy/pasted it to both my facebook and my tumblr feeds where I am covering (silly, but that’s what I do kind of) this information about MZB. Truthfully, I’m not surprised, because the books are filled with child sexual abuse, because she was married and continued to be in love with (and apparently cover up for) a child molester, I’m sad, but not surprised.
            Thank you to Moira for being brave enough to be open and speak about this from a survivor perspective. Only by bringing light to the shadows and by speaking to clean out the infection can humanity hope to heal.
            Blessed Be.
            ~R

        • dylan winchester says

          dear Moira.

          I cried reading this post and had to breathe for a long, long time until I could write this, the hours not making the chill leave my bones, as the cold of sadness seldom does.
          i am stricken with grief for you and i feel guilt for not knowing, somehow, even though i couldn’t have, but, maybe it’s because as a member of the sisterhood of avalon, honoring the old cymru traditions and the morgens of avalon I am one who could easily be mistaken for a defender of your mother.

          and I am not, nor would i ever be.

          honoring the old traditions much similar to these described in MZB’s way in The Mists of Avalon does not make me support her no matter what like little girl who’s lost in fandom. and i can say with honesty, for all of us, none in the SoA would. but witchhunts and scapegoats are as usual in our times as in any other.

          of course this might sound like a statement so natural it shouldn’t have to even be stated, but my experience is that things which are the most natural somehow, sometimes, appear the least natural, I’m now talking about my heart breaking for you and that of not defending MZB.

          I have my faith which is solid. I walk in the light of Awen. the guilt- oh yes, to get back to that- has nothing to do with my faith, more my admiration of MZB’s works. and I feel the nausea spreading. i feel the memories of similar, yet so extremely unsimilar, episodes of my own, resurface. and i just want to hold you. i wish you all the best. light and love.

        • says

          Moira, I ache for what you have had to live with. My mother was a brilliant opera singer, my father a blind concert pianist. He deserves the idolized status he had (both died when I was 15, & eldest of 5). But she was too violent for words. The first poem I wrote about her (we lived in the “don’t” tell era) was followed 20 years later by a longer one of all the remarkable things she did which helped me have some of the same courage she had…yet one sister asks me how I can write anything kind about “that monster.”
          I still don’t know how to reconcile the two people she was! While the second one is too long, I include the first here. And it is why I know you speak truth…because I recognize your “voice”!
          May healing come to your heart and soul.
          Blessed Be
          Marybeth Witt/Lady Pythia

          Note to Mother: 1975

          Mother you hated your father leather straps broken bones lies to teachers you shivered under splintered bed slats every night, plugging your ears as your mother’s screams echoed through floorboards into your scarred cheek and skull

          Mother i hated your screams slaps in stores the willow switch and broken paddles cast iron pan and even the walls coat hangers stroking blood from my legs in front of neighbors–wishing you dead as i rocked my numb shell too many supperless nights along in my room

          Mommy you died too soon terrified of my memories, years of litanies to hate whispered into damp pillows my body began to grow as yours withered and greyed from the cobalt the scarred mirage of your breast accusing me and

          when i found you cold sitting on the edge of the bed with your head bowed so gently blood pounded like thunder thru my fingertips into your rigid wirist — i trying to breathe you, scream you alive

          Mother, i learned too quickly your woman’s pain from you, later from others who sent me out of my body into that safe madness in my skull found too late love to reach for you –

          And it haunts me that i have yet to penance love evershadowed by fear

          • says

            I cried so hard when I read your words. May you find abundant peace and healing! it is an incomprehensible thing for so many: how many children have violent fathers? Having a violent mother skews the world in a way it is hard to understand.

            Love and light and peace to you always,

            –Moira Greyland

        • Survivor says

          Dear Moira,
          I know what this is like. When I finally told, no one believed me. It destroyed my family, I stopped speaking to 3 of my sisters because I found out they were calling me a liar behind my back. They claimed nothing ever happened to them, yet they had serious issues that are typical of incest survivors and were extremely self destructive, two of them have since died and the third has an out of control drinking problem.
          People who know what this is like will believe you. I believe you. And I’m very sorry this happened to you.

          • says

            Dear Survivor,
            Thank you for living, even as your sisters demonstrated the results of keeping these secrets. Please heal, live on, even thrive and know that your own bravery in telling the truth has created the better life you have now. God bless you.
            –Moira Greyland

      • says

        Thank you for including my poems. The first line of “They Did Their Best” is
        “The cry of this day is to smile as they say
        Something pat that sounds like understanding…”

        • says

          Moira:

          While each of your poems was well done–although they were stunningly painful to read for obvious reasons–”They Did Their Best” is absolutely priceless.

          • says

            Thank you so much.

            It is an odd way to be published, to be sure. For most of my life I’ve been a radio: the harp version of a lounge pianist, and it wore me out to retell and retell another’s happy songs where my own story beat against the confines of my own heart. Blessings to you always,
            –Moira Greyland

        • says

          Moira, I have been reading all the comments on so many articles, some from people who don’t want to believe, that they dare ask: why Moira Greyhaven didn’t report MZB when the latter was alive.

          They don’t understand what it’s like to not have a Voice, or that we were conditioned to not speak out when they were alive. I was orphaned at a much younger age than you, but it took me til age 23 to even write about it.
          Below is what I am prefacing a link to this page with…and it is yours to use as you wish.

          To those people, I say this: When the abuser is so idolized, the children feel an obligation to protect their reputation. We get Stockholmized to protect the abuser, for the sake of the extended family, for the sake of all the people who come up to us to thank us for the impact that person had upon their lives.

          How can we say to the admirers
          “Yes, I am happy she helped so many people, because that was her public face. But she beat all 5 of us mercilessly, horrifically, which is why we couldn’t have friends over, because we assumed the shame for what she did, we were told that if we ever spoke a word about it, the punishment would be worse than we could imagine.”

          Just how could I, as a 15 yr old, even as a 21 year old, disillusion so many people? We were reared to protect the family image, had had no therapy, a few of us adopting lifestyles which could help numb us to the tapes in our head, let alone to the institutionalized, systematic abuse her own Sister suffered at her hands, in front of us…the Aunt then systematically repeated it on us for the rest of her life. And, of course, we even hid that, as orphans so thankful for any family at all, from the “normal” side of the family, still ashamed of the pervading sickness which we five swore that we would stop, not perpetuate, upon our own children.

          And I was 61 when I found myself saying aloud, after that Aunt’s death “No one ever has the right to yell at me, to terrorize me again”–sad that that was just last winter.

          But it affected our ability to even understand boundaries, to have healthy relationships, or know how to defend ourselves. Horrific, the sexual abuse when you were a child.
          Sad, in my situation, that I could not prevent rapes, the worst being 5 years, by a cop, which only ended in 2001.

          If you have been able to move past fear of violation, I am so grateful for that!
          Despite working with a therapist for a decade, I have yet to work with a sexual abuse counselor. I hope you have, for what you endured was the most primally vicious types of violation of boundaries.

          And we 5 siblings succeeded in breaking that cycle, sometimes shamed by one in that next generation who still refuses to believe that their beloved great-aunt really did throw our brother down the basement stairs in front of me, that she tortured some of us in unimanageable ways that were worse than how our mother warped our early years.

          BUT we refuse to reenact that culture of “don’t tell, protect the family image,” because that’s what we were trained to do.

          We dare not perpetuate the multigenerational systemic abuse, we dare not put it back in a closet and pretend anymore…not if we want to heal at all in this lifetime.

          And Moira Greyhaven writes poetry whose tone, dissassociation I recognize, know is true, for it rings the same bell that my own does, inside me.

          That saying, “We know one when we meet one” applies even more to survivors who still live with the hundreds of triggers to our PTSD which we encounter on a daily basis…NOT out of choice, not because we’re trapped in the past, not because we enjoy reliving blows to the head…but because for us, the triggers are everywhere, and we never know when one will strike like an RPG, when we think we’ve finally gotten past”X”.

          Blessed Be the thousands of Survivors, and Blessed Be Moira, for she has freed our vocal chords with her brave Aria, and Finale!

          Thank you, again, wounded warrior
          Lady Pythia/Marybeth Witt

          • says

            God bless you, and YES we will keep speaking out!!!

            What you said helped me so much. Yes, we are Stockholmized, as your post points out. What do you do when your abuser’s life is worth more than your own? My mother’s work was so important that there was NO WAY to talk about it when she was alive. I only reported my father because he was molesting a child in front of me. I wish I had succeeded when I was 13! But even then, talking about what was happening to me and to my brother was never even on the table. It never even occurred to me. She was famous, she was important, and she was Helping People. Far more important for her to continue than, in retrospect, for him and me to survive emotionally. Lots of people knew that something was desperately wrong, and even now they are coming forward and telling me what they saw and remembered, and it is staggering to face all of this. I’ll blog sometime: I’ve set up an account. Best wishes to you and thank you again for putting so much of this into words that I could not have imagined.
            –Moira Greyland

            • says

              Dear Moira

              If you would ever like to talk, PLEASE get my e-dress from Deidre, who has done such a great service concerning a horrific topic. We read everywhere about abusive fathers, and I’m sickened that you got vile bilateral parental abuse!
              Also, I’m so sorry that my poem made you cry. Yours made me cry inside, rage, scream! …I’ve had to steel myself for my entire life because of the neverending 3-D flashbacks that can come any time. When I do start to cry for the child I never was, it is such a galactic ocean that I have to dam it up, and end up numb for days….
              I survived by going mad. Deliberately went out of body into a chaotic repetitious madness in my skull so that any part of the I could continue, especially because when a sibling wouldn’t confess as all 5 of us were always lined up against the music room folding door, and she would continue beating us until the doer of whatever accident confessed, I took responsibility, because I could not bear the little ones being in such anguish.
              So many of my beatings were for hundreds of lies, but I was the eldest, and it was the only way I could protect them, even tho’ I was a bony thing. Our legs were always covered with clothes, so no one could see blood there, or on our bottoms. And we could not move, or she would get more insane…ooh I cannot talk about this now….

              There needs to be a site for women who have been abused by women! One of the most difficult things for me was that I’m bisexual, and when I fell in love with beings who just happened to be women, I didn’t know how to feel safe, be truly honest, old patterns kept me protecting myself, because with men and a few women, I experienced sudden, unexpected violence, and never had warning, did not know to keep safe from alcoholics, or how to give up on trying to believe that the person’s higher self would manifest if I just kept believing in them. And you know that the psychological violence with which our sick, sick Mothers filled huge galaxies in our heads was the most insidious, penetratingly vile, and always demeaning of our girlhood, our gender, as if they were penalizing us…and my Mother was, because she hated that my composer Father from Juilliard was my Spirit Brother and best friend.

              Had it not been for him, I don’t know what I would have done. But of course, I learned how to deliberately hurt myself so that her madness could be pretend-staved off for a day or two.

              I’ve gone on far too long, and I don’t want you or anyone to absorb any pain at what I’ve written.

              Please call me.
              We women who must learn how to Mother ourselves need to talk about these things. And I couldn’t have children, which is probably karmically right, as at 62 I’ve gotten more psychologically crippled since those years of rapes as an adult…when as a High Priestess, I was advocating for abused children in our area who were brought to me, yet I could not save myself.
              It took years for me to tell, and the cop can’t be prosecuted because my physical and psychological damage is too severe for me to withstand years of trials…. My entire neck is fused with metal and bolts, so I cannot deal with spazzing out, which that kind of stress would definitely do.

              Sisters who have been abused by Mothers, is there a site for us? Anywhere which offers articles, links to help the unique kinds of damaged we are, whether it was physical violence (and I mean extreme, not just a slap of the face.) Eva put my head through the kitchen wall, down to the wood, so much damage to my head. Extreme physical and sexual violence from women must be dealt with differently, I think?

              Blessed Be all you survivors, by the Divine Mother, however you envision Her, for Deity is beyond gender, inclusive of all, and She of 10,000 Names has so many faces, including Mary, whose hearts are really full of something we never had: unconditional love.

              With Love, and Healing thoughts
              Pythia

    • says

      I gave the truth about my mother in THREE WORDS ONLY in my dedication. “To my mother, who encouraged me to follow my dreams, NO MATTER WHAT.” There are years of agony in that “what.” I have gone on with my life as though what happened DID NOT have to dominate my existence. I have not spoken of this in public because I wanted my life to be about my children and my art, and not her. And yet, I WILL speak now, if need be. –Moira Greyland

      • Anastasia says

        Thank you. I have nothing but the deepest of respect for you and the strength of will it took to survive your childhood – and to speak up now. This was important for the world to know. Words fail me – I am so terribly sorry for what you went through.

      • says

        Moira: Your resilience is inspiring. I cannot answer for what tormented your parents that would have motivated them to do what they did, as that is beyond reprehensible. There is evil in this world, and–all too often–very talented, otherwise brilliant people have been known to do some of the most awful things.

        At the same time, God bless you for breaking that cycle. In the process, you are establishing a new heritage for your family that will be a blessing to future generations.

        One more thing: your music is quite impressive. I will share that around.

      • Jay says

        Moira,

        I am a victorious survivor of childhood emotional, physical, and sexual abuse by both of the only two family members I had, my mother and my older brother. The sexual abuse began at about 1st grade (so 5 or so), and the other always just was. When, at age 7, I finally told my mother that my brother was raping me, she punished me with a belt for being a tattletale. I never said another word to anyone about abuse again, even when my brother passed me to his best friend (at 10), when my best friend’s stepfather molested me (at 13), and when my daughter’s father raped me after I tried to leave him (at 20). I never spoke about any of the abuse I lived through, the beatings from my mother and brother, the forced isolation, the withholding of food and fluids, the belts, mixing spoons, brooms, rope, cigarettes, holding my hands over the stove, the threats of death, the guilt over everything (it was my mother’s most used weapon, next to her belt or hand…I never said anything until I got married at 24 to a wonderful person that urged me to get help. They supported me, held me, validated my right to speak out for myself, they stood by me and to this day when I awake from one of the nightmares or flashbacks that are an eternal gift of all that abuse, they hold me and tell me I’m safe. My mother died in 2005 and I am not ashamed to say I felt relief when she passed. Her presence in my life was a constant source of pain and I am glad it is over. Of course, it has taken years of therapy to be able to admit that. Immediately after her death, I stopped all contact with my brother (she had forced me to be around him for any holidays or celebrations). They were my only two blood relatives on Earth, since my biological father died when I was 18, but I never knew him. I just wanted to say thank you for speaking out, and I envy your ability to write as a way to release some of the pain that we have in common. I hope you have found out that love does really exist and that we have the family we were born into and the family we build. I have found the second to work much better for me. :D Good luck in your future endeavours!

        • Moira Greyland says

          OMG what a heartbreaking story!! And even so I can see your strength shining through. You survived, and even found love. A family of choice: what a blessing!!! For that is also how I survived. Sending love to all survivors and to their chosen families: they will never know how much worth they bring to us!!

        • says

          Jay:

          That was absolutely gut-wrenching to read. I am outraged that your brother would do such a thing, and even more outraged that your mother would not only cover for him but also perpetuate her own abuses.

          It is a great blessing, against that backdrop, that you found a good wife and were able to get the help you needed.

          My wife and I have an operative principle that we live by: home life should be a refuge from the cruelty of the world. Whatever hurts or baggages we bring with us, there is safety and hope within the marriage bond. That love has a redeeming effect, and that is as it should be.

          This is what makes the abuses that you and Moira–and Deirdre and Barbara–endured so much more damaging: your parents were subjecting you to the very abuses against which they should have been protecting you.

          I am thankful that you are fighting the good fight, and I wish you all the best.

          Moira: Amen, and I second your sentiments.

          Deirdre: Thank you for your coverage of the MZB-Breendoggle matter. I also wish you all the best.

          • Moira Greyland says

            Amir,
            Thank you so much for your kind and supportive words! I have intended to respond to everyone who took the time to speak to me, and in rereading I noticed I forgot, where you said several different things, and even spoke well of my music.

            I have been so sad to hear the stories from the survivors who are speaking out on these posts! I have cried my eyes out again and again from hearing the pain from other people, and I have been so inspired by their courage to go on.

            But one of the reasons we can go on is because of people like you: people who give the survivors a safe place to talk and an actual voice. Thank you for standing up, not only for me, but for the other survivors who are sharing their hearts with us here.

            Culturally, we will beat this thing. We have to.
            Once more, thank you for being here for all of us. <3
            –Moira

            • says

              Thanks, Moira!

              Right now, this is the season where school is out, and churches across the country are hosting Vacation Bible School (VBS)*. Parents in many communities–even those who aren’t necessarily Christian–often send their kids to it. I’m no stranger to this: I’ve written VBS curriculum before and have taught it many times.

              Why do I mention this? There are a couple angles:

              (1) Churches are going to encounter children from a variety of life situations. Some are coming from good family situations, others from very bad situations. It is not always easy to tell which kids are being abused. It’s not like they wear labels that say, “My dad is raping me”, or “My mom is beating me senseless every night.” Some of them might not even realize that what they are experiencing is in fact abuse until well into their adult years.

              And yet, it is incumbent on VBS workers to keep a keen eye out for potential victims. Those with outrageous behavior issues might not so much be troublemakers, but rather might be trying to call attention to something really bad. (That’s not the case every time, but I can remember one case where in fact a kid was being raped and that was his way of acting out. His abuser is now doing time in jail for multiple counts of child rape.)

              Even if one never spots anything, at the very least, they need to major in the majors and ensure that they are providing a safe, caring atmosphere.

              This is because they can never know if they are coming across someone like a Moira or a Deirdre or a Barbara or a Jay. That may be their opportunity to get a portrait of a place where they may turn one day without receiving condemnation.

              (2) Churches need to be on the lookout for predators. Predators will hang out in churches for the same reason an armed robber will hit the bank: Just as the robber goes where the money is, the predator will go where the children are.

              Churches today generally do a better job running background checks. And while this is good, it is still not enough. Many times, a predator will pass a background check BECAUSE HE HASN’T BEEN CAUGHT YET! (In the aforementioned case, the predator had a clean record and even worked for the IRS–maybe that should have been a red flag!–and his first known criminal offense blew up in my pastor’s face.)

              That makes it imperative for such outfits to exercise due diligence: having good policies that prohibit an adult from being alone with children–I call that the “two person rule”; ensuring that if any kid reports abuse, then all workers know to immediately report to authorities. I don’t care if it’s the most respected person in your community who is involved, you must report it. Law enforcement has the ability to investigate objectively. They aren’t perfect, but it’s the best we can do.

              That also requires people to remember the admonition to “never be afraid to see what you see.” If it looks suspicious, it probably is.

              Even then, one must have the moral courage to do the right thing.

              Sadly, there will always be evil people seeking to do very bad things to others.

              The issues are
              (a) Are we going to make their work easier or harder?

              (b) What are we going to do when confronted with this evil?

              Like you said, Moira, we must win this. That requires being decisive about doing the right thing.

              All the best. Cheers!

              *Oh, and it’s not just churches. We could substitute “YMCA”, “Community Centers”, various sports-specific camps, and other organizations that deal with children and teens.

              • Moira Greyland says

                Agreed. In the Catholic church, there is a training that every volunteer, lay person and clergy member must undergo, called “Safe Environment”. We are all trained to recognize the signs of sexual abuse, as well as physical abuse, and we are also trained in protocols that are observed in every Catholic church that are meant to minimize the possibility of abuse. If all teachers and clergy from other churches were trained in a similar way, a lot more victims might be spotted sooner.

                In any event, it is time for this to become something it is easier to intervene over. I have heard now from a number of family friends: many knew something was wrong and they just didn’t know what to do. Admittedly it is harder to make a stink if the perpetrator is rich, famous, or influential. What matters now is what we can do for future generations.

                http://www.oakdiocese.org/ministries/safe-environment/Safe%20Workshops%20and%20Training%20Calendar

                • says

                  Moira: That’s excellent to know. Now if we could just get Protestants and evangelicals to get their collective head out of the sand…

                  My wife and I are very impressed with the Catholics. We are in the process of adopting through Catholic Charities, and they have been excellent to work with.

                • Moira Greyland says

                  Agreed! As well as Scout troop leaders, teachers, day care employees and everyone else who works with children. Since the training itself is not specifically Catholic but merely required by the Church, I see no objection to it being mandated, used, and adopted by members of many other organizations. It is time that no case of child abuse be hidden in plain sight.

                  In my own case, while I felt bound by loyalty to never speak of what was being done to me, and those feelings are still with me now, despite having answered Deirdre’s questions, I was able to report my father to the authorities when I saw him doing something to a child. My earlier attempt at reporting him had been swept under the rug, as has been noted.

                  What I wonder is how many other children are similarly unable to articulate their own distress, but only able to speak if “Someone Important,” (i.e. not me) is being harmed? I am guessing the number is in the millions. What would happen if children were able to rock the boat on their OWN behalf?

                • says

                  From what I’ve seen, I’d say you’re probably right.

                  A friend of mine–herself a survivor or such abuse in her own family–once observed, particularly with sexual predators: “If you want to know the damage, then whatever you see, multiply it by at least ten for every year of adulthood.” Her math is probably not far off the mark.

                  At my wife’s former church, a prominent member had been caught–in the act–by his wife, performing sexually on his daughter. She wanted him to go to the pastor and confess. He did.

                  The pastor, thankfully, had the stones to do the right thing. He said, “You have two choices: you can pick up this phone, call the police, and turn yourself in. Or I will call them myself and tell them exactly what you just told me.” He was promptly arrested, pled guilty, and did jail time.

                  You can imagine what happened. His wife was angry at the pastor for blowing the lid and upsetting the applecart. (She wanted him to deal with it, but keep everything “in house”.)

                  About a third of the families left the church, angry that the pastor would have the audacity to blow the lid on that.

                  Still, once the smoke cleared, this became a defining moment: the pastor established himself as someone committed to doing the right thing and vindicating the Gospel; he showed that girl–who may not understand it now, but will later–that God takes these kinds of offenses very seriously, and cares deeply about justice.

                  As for the offender? He is thankful for being arrested and thrown into jail. He calls it the best thing that ever happened to him.

                  My wife and I visit that church whenever we go to her old stomping grounds, which is usually twice a year.

                  Today, people there are much more transparent than before. It’s like there’s a whole different spirit there.

                  All because the pastor chose to do the right thing and not acquiesce to what others wanted.

                • Moira Greyland says

                  Wow!! And indeed that is an applecart that needed upsetting!! What a brave thing that pastor did!!

                • says

                  Definitely! That pastor had already been in hot water: he had only been there for about 6 months, and a lot of the families were already angry at him because he didn’t do things the way the previous pastor did.

                  My wife and I found him geeky and verbose, but otherwise a very good man and an excellent preacher. A very deep thinker. And very caring.

                  He proved that–in spades–in his handling of the familial sexual abuse case.

                  My wife and I would settle there if we lived in that venue.

                • Joy says

                  While I still think we have a ways to go in general, my United Methodist church also has a Safe Sanctuary policy and training on what to do if we suspect a child is abused–report to CPS first, this is so important as it actively prevent attempts at coverups. It’s far from perfect still but we are getting there.

              • B. Durbin says

                ‘I call that the “two person rule”’

                The BSA has had a policy in place for at least twenty years (back when I was a summer camp counselor) called “two-deep leadership.” It basically means that you NEVER have one adult and one child alone together (with the camp exception that you can have a “private talk” if it’s out of hearing range but in full view of other people.) After the big scandal in the 80s*, they got very careful about child predators.

                *My dad became a Scoutmaster because of one such scandal. The troop had basically evaporated after it was discovered that a volunteer was a child predator (though thankfully, the incident did not get past the initial stages). So there needed to be leadership, and my dad’s the sort of person to step up…

                • says

                  My high school once had a very popular physics teacher. (Of course, he was popular because he was an easy grader.) He was also a Scoutmaster.

                  When I was in 10th grade, he got busted for child molestation. He apparently had kept an extensive collection of photos. There were dozens of children involved.

                  And yes, it was in the 1980s.

                  Needless to say, I’m thankful I never had that teacher.

      • Trillium says

        As a fellow survivor of an abusive mother (who everyone loved), thank you for your courage in sharing your words and truth. We need them. Wishing healing and joy to you.

    • Anthony says

      I only know Moira tangentially, so I really can’t speak for her.

      However, I know much more closely someone in a very similar situation – K was sexually abused by her father for most of her childhood, and her mother enables that abuse, and abused her (though generally non-sexually) as well. K has no regrets about her father committing suicide just before the trial, but while she has cut her mother almost completely out of her life, for her own protection and to protect her children, she still misses her mother. There’s still some connection, even if there’s a lot of pain and hurt as well.

      So Moira making an occasional nice gesture towards her mother does not surprise me, nor does it make me doubt her.

      • says

        I was battered as a child (actually, until I was 19), so I have some understanding of what that abuse did to me.

        I also had a then-famous grandmother who wrote and illustrated children’s books and was regarded as witty and charming. And — no doubt, she could be. It’s probably because of my intense dislike for so many things she did that I didn’t start writing until I was almost thirty (and possibly why I’ve never taken up drawing).

        One family dinner ages ago, about a year before her death, it was a perfect day. Nothing went wrong. That was the last day I ever saw her. While I talked to her over the phone after that, I wanted my strongest memory of her to be that one great day.

        I thought that her fans would never believe what actually happened, thus I never spoke ill of her. Yet — that battering my dad gave me? That came from somewhere. (To be clear, my grandmother never laid a hand on me.)

        I’ve been seriously considering a tribute site for her while my dad is still alive to ask questions about her. Some of her work is beautiful (and we have two of her larger pieces hanging in our home).

        Anyhow, getting back to the point — I can’t imagine bundling up what my grandmother was like into the next closer generation along with what my dad did, and then making it That. Much. Worse. I literally cannot extrapolate, but I can sympathize knowing what my own situation did to me.

        • says

          Deirdre, I’m so sorry for what you went through, and I understand what it is like being afraid that one will not be believed because of the fans.

          I think our culture has changed a lot recently and people can accept that sometimes even people with great accomplishments in their lives can do things that should never be done to anyone.

          For the next generation to have to hide under a rock and pretend that nothing ever happened adds literal insult to injury.

          It is clear people are listening and they care, and I am glad you are speaking out about what happened to you. Let us keep encouraging people to share their experiences and let the healing continue. <3
          –Moira Greyland

    • Michael says

      Moira is my wife and I can tell you that I see the result of the abuse and it’s aftermath every single day. The damage done by MZB, not just to Moira, but other family members as well, is evident and and sometimes unbearable. I stand with Moira because she is my wife, of course, but also because this has been very hard for her. She stands to gain nothing from going public with this, and seeks only healing for herself, for her brother and all of the others that have been so damaged by her mother.

    • Michael Peat says

      Zippy, it’s from Moira. I’m sitting next to her on the bed right now (she’s my wife) and was there when she was exchanging information with Dierdre.

  2. Michelle says

    I used to work with a woman who was a babysitter for Marian’s kids. She later married Terry Carr. She told me, 27 years ago, that she was in denial about the stuff that was going on and was very idealistic and didn’t want to believe that talented hippies would get high and neglect and abuse children. It feels so strange to read about this now.

  3. Zippy says

    Thanks for the response, both Deirdre and Miss Greyland. I apologize for my skeptical tone earlier; in reading my own comment it seems much colder than I intended it.

    I had previously heard about Breen (though I’d never read the deposition testimony or known the details), but I had not known about Bradley’s conduct. My heart goes out to you, Miss Greyland — I simply cannot fathom the suffering and betrayal that you endured. My own parents weren’t perfect, of course, but they would have died before committing such despicable acts.

    I cannot express the sadness I feel in reading this.

    I read Mists of Avalon a long time ago, thought it was just OK. Never got into the Darkover books . . . and this makes me glad that she wasn’t one of my favorite writers.

    Your music is beautiful, by the way.

  4. A. E. Roberts says

    I made my first professional sale to MZB.
    Had I any idea, I would never have submitted to her magazine.
    Wish there was something I could do to help.

    • says

      I think being respectful of the people she’s harmed and wishing the best for them is a start.

      MZB gave a start to a lot of writers, especially women. That’s still as true as it ever was.

      • A. E. Roberts says

        I only met MZB once, at a convention in Portland, and she read me the riot act. I think she had me confused for someone else from my town with the same first name.

        I had lunch several times with Rachel E. Holmen, and found her to be a charming and witty person.

        MZB gave a start to a number of us guys, too.

        Trying to come up with words of comfort and support … ah … it is late and I can find nothing. Sleep well, all.

  5. River Curtis-Stanley says

    A message to Moira Greyland:
    I read about this for much of today. This is the first I had heard of it. I was looking up something on Alva Rogers, who was a friend of mine when I was in my mid-teens (1970s), and somehow (nothing to do with Mr. Rogers, who was always completely honorable with me) ran across the term “Breendoggle” when looking up info on Westercon. That led to remembering discovering MZB’s Darkover when I was a young teenage feminist and longtime SFF fan perusing the public library, which eventually led me here. For most of my life I have been a fan of MZB’s work. It was lifechanging for me. I am horrified to learn what my book purchases and my fandom have enabled.

    Ms Greyland, I BELIEVE YOU. There is no doubt whatever in my mind that you are telling the truth and describing your lived experience in your email and your poetry. One of the things that came to mind that I had hidden away from myself was that another adult mentor of mine when I was in my early teens was convicted of child molestation by his daughters and imprisoned (Dr. Joseph “Joop” Royce) and just how narrowly I escaped being molested at thirteen when he took me and two other girls, both younger than I, to a “writer’s camp” retreat at his cabin. At least one of those girls was molested by him for years. Maybe she was that week, too. Maybe both of them were. He was never able to with me, largely because I had been extremely bodily reserved since being raped by the female babysitter at ten. I kept my clothes on. There were definitely dodgy things that week but I don’t want to trigger anyone. I have only tonight spoken about this to someone for the first time, my husband, and over forty years have gone by.

    I understand that you have come under attack in some fora. I will have your back anyplace you wish it. I just wanted to say that I am appalled by your parents’ behavior towards children, and that I am willing to make a public stand on your behalf any time, anywhere, because I do believe you. I feel I need to do this not just because I was, until this afternoon, a fan of your mother’s writing and mentoring upcoming women writers, but because I am a human being and a woman who has survived completed child rape and attempted child molestation by adults I and my family trusted.

    I admire your willingness to come forward and speak publicly about what happened to you. It takes greater strength than I had until my fifties. If you see this and would like to get in touch, Ms Moen should hopefully be able to forward my email address.

    If you would like an ally, I will not be silent.

    • Moira Greyland says

      Thank you so very much for reaching out to me and for sharing your story. I am so glad you escaped molestation from that writer and I applaud your courage in speaking up. I appreciate you saying you’ll have my back: it has been excruciating to write and to remember, when I have been silent for so long. May we inspire many more to share their stories, and keep the healing coming. –Moira Greyland

  6. says

    I’m very sorry for what Moira suffered, and very grateful to her for speaking out and to you, Deirdre, for publishing this information.

  7. Ellen Eades says

    I am so very sorry to hear that not only was MZB complicit in Walter’s crimes but that she herself was also abusive. I can’t possibly imagine what Moira and Patrick went through. It is discouraging indeed to hear of the dark realities behind the shiny public exteriors. Moira, I believe you and I’m very sorry. I hope your healing continues. Thanks for your courage in speaking out.

    • says

      Speaking out in public has accelerated my healing in ways I cannot describe. Thank you for your kind words about me and my brother. More and more as I read these comments I feel like a whitewashed sepulchre; hiding all the dead men’s bones!! About time we diverted a river through there, even if it is a river of tears. God bless you, and all who have reached out to me. <3 <3 <3

      –Moira Greyland

  8. Suburbanbanshee says

    It took Hercules and a river to clean out the Augean stables, but apparently a couple of women and a blog can also wash away a lot of BS and concealment.

    Moira Greyland is a very tough lady to have survived so much crap, and even to have transformed pain into poetry. Like the slaves of the South coming up with spirituals, to sing and live is a true form of victory. She has all my respect.

    • Moira Greyland says

      I will take your words and wrap them like a warm blanket around my heart. Let the healing begin for us all. Thank you so much for what you have said.

  9. says

    Moira,

    I went into a little more detail in my comment on Deirdre’s other post, but since it seems you are following comments here, I wanted to make sure you would see, because, well, I figure that more support can’t hurt, and I’ve seen a few too many nasty people.

    I was one of the people whose life was impacted by Marion’s work. Not just hers, but in combination with some other authors, it is part of why I am alive today. But even then, I read the depositions a long time ago, and some of Marion and Lisa’s comments sounded very disturbing to me, not just in reference to her ex-husband. I wondered if she had herself abused others. I read an interview awhile back with I believe it was Lisa where she described Marion taking on the personality of whatever character she was writing; while, as a writer, my speech is sometimes affected by the language my character uses, the idea of an entire personality changing is concerning at best to me, and in light of this, it is even more disturbing to me.

    I am very upset to read what has happened, but I wish to say, I absolutely support you, and I believe you.

    I know for myself how difficult it was for me to come forward about the identity of my rapist, when we had mutual friends and I didn’t know who would believe me. I cannot imagine the fear and stress of coming forward, when your abuser is a semi-famous and respected public figure. I don’t think I would be able to do that, and I admire you very much for stepping forward and letting the truth be told.

    Nothing can excuse the evil she did, the cruelty. “Mother’s Hands” had my gut churning and tears down my face by the end; I am so very sorry that you went through that. I see in some comments up above you say that it is almost a comfort to know that she helped others; I can see where that might be, but it doesn’t make up, in my mind, for the abuse, cruelty, and torment you and others suffered.

    I’m out of town at the moment but when I get home, I’ll be posting a link to this and something about it, myself, since I have written publicly about how her work helped me. It is not so much that I feel responsible, or guilty for her work being so important in my life, but I feel that this should not be hidden, that it should be spread far and wide so people know the truth.

    I’ve gone on a bit long, but this all to say: I believe you, I support you, and if there is absolutely anything I can do to help, you’ll have it.

  10. Sherrylyn Branchaw says

    To Moira, and everyone who commented: I believe you. And I admire your courage.

    The cognitive dissonance after just yesterday having reread one of the most empowering scenes in Mists–Igraine fighting both internal and external battles against Gorlois’ abuse–is mind-boggling. I am furious that the abuse story is such a common one in the real world.

    • Lise says

      It is hard to understand how someone who wrote about abuse in this way, who obvioulsy understood rape and what it does to people, could inflict this to her own children. I’m left wondering. What could possibly have been going on in her head? Was she a psychopath to a degree that she understood but simply did not care? But then why spend so much time writing about it?
      Regardless, I wish you all possible good, Ms. Greyland. I hope coming forward with this will help you in some way.

      • says

        My apologies on not approving this sooner. I could swear I did so right after it came in. Knowing me, I’ll probably find a browser tab with a half-written comment in a day or two.

        I offer you this thought experiment: how is it that someone comes to think so much about rape? (to be clear, this is a hypothetical question)

        I mean, I’ve been raped (once, as an adult) and I don’t think about it that much.

        When I was in college, my roommate had been raped by her father; she became a victim’s advocate for sexual assault survivors. She went to every single parole hearing to speak against her brother’s release for perpetuating the abuse.

        As a result of knowing her, I learned about Bowen’s family systems theory.

        Which may or may not shed light onto your question.

        • Moira Greyland says

          I will answer questions privately about my mother’s history. It is not my place to do so here. <3

  11. Cheryl Morris says

    Long, red, curved
    an elegant tip to slender hands
    a weapon

    Long, curved, red
    digging into my flesh
    leaving marks and torn skin

    Long, curved, lacquered
    the colour of blood
    dangerous

    Clacking on piano keys
    filed perfectly,
    manicured and deadly

    Long red talons
    dig into my flesh
    to show disapproval

    Hatred, I thought
    as they pierced my flesh
    repeatedly

    Long red talons
    picking at my flesh
    never perfect, always flawed

    Days of terror
    waiting like prey
    for the claws to unsheath

    Wondering what would
    next cause them to be used
    on my flesh.

    I watched with horror
    as mother prepared her nails
    moons manicured, nails filed

    Then painted blood red
    long and pointed
    just for me.

    I did not want to be a woman

    The above poem accompanied a painting. Here is the exhibition note:

    Long Red Talons

    Current fashion is to acknowledge only male violence. Female violence, if acknowledged, is couched with attendant denial: women are reacting to male patriarchy. Female violence exists. Many, including myself, have been the victims of it. The violence—physical, emotional, psychological—is all the more “dirty” for being unspoken and unacknowledged.

    The piece submitted, Long Red Talons, is not pretty—it isn’t supposed to be. It is about some of the violence I suffered as a child. The poem is accurate. The piece is done as a fetish and the nails and pins are significant as pain objects.

    The artist invites anyone who has been a victim of violence to remove a cloth strip and take it with them; please leave the pin.

    The artwork will be ritually incinerated after the show is over—there will be further details on when and where.

  12. Linda Kelley Hylton says

    Hello Moira, I can never again read MZB’s books as much as I loved them – they are tainted by the horror that you and other’s had to endure. It takes courage to come forward and share something like this. I admire you for this. May you find healing. Blessing on you and all the other victims. Linda

    • Moira Greyland says

      Dear Linda,

      Thank you for your kind words to me. And I share your sentiment of blessings on the other victims. One of the hardest parts about this kind of thing is the near-impossibility of talking about this. Thank you for helping to make it easier to talk. God willing many other survivors will see your words and feel inspired to tell their stories too. Best wishes, Moira Greyland

  13. Christian Bouchard says

    Last 6 months, I was reading everything from MZB…translated in french. I was looking for the next story in sequence after Exile’s Song on Wikipedia. And i just read these real life’s, no fiction’s facts. I could’nt read ebooks from her…no more. I’ve removed all the ebooks from my phone…the only thing I found to support you Moira Greyland.

  14. Katie says

    Moira, I am so sorry for all that has happened to you. You’re so very brave to have not only survived this, but been able to move on and try to heal yourself by sharing your story. I was abused by several people for 9 years of my childhood and even now, with it having stopped around 15 years ago, I still sometimes find myself affected by it. The fear, the shame, the lack of trust, there are days when they’re just as fresh as they were when the abuse happened. Some people are just evil, and I’m so sorry to hear that your parents were two such individuals.

    You seem to be a lovely woman and I hope only the best things come from you sharing your story. I hope you find some relief and continue your healing process.

  15. Jen. says

    Moira, I am so sorry. I can barely see the keyboard because I’m crying so hard after reading this. Not just because of the pain and suffering you went through but because of the courage that this all had to take. I am so sorry that someone who should have protected and loved you not only failed but betrayed you.

    I sincerely hope you continue to heal with every step. I have watched my mother, with help from my devoted father, walk further away from the abuse and the pain she endured during her childhood. It’s a long, hard road but know that you have people pulling for you.

    Is there – I don’t know, some sort of charity for survivors of abuse that I/we could donate to? I had one book of MZB’s on my shelf. I was still crying when I pulled it out an threw it in the trash – I won’t even bother taking it to the used bookstore. But it’s not enough.

    • Moira Greyland says

      Dear Jen,
      Your post broke my heart. You’ve watched your mother survive her own abuse and now you are reaching out to me in such a profound way. I am trying to see the keys through my tears myself while I write this. What I love about your words is that you represent a generation of people who have witnessed the survival and healing of others, and that means that the silence for many HAS been broken, the secrets are destroyed, and the shame and anguish has been put back on the perpetrators where it belongs. As you know, it is not only the original events that are so hard to live with, but having to be silent and act as if it never happened. To be able to speak out, and be heard, what relief!! I’ve been turning over the notion of a charity in my head, and my best suggestion is RAINN, (Rape Abuse Incest National Network.) founded, I think, by survivor Tori Amos. Please give your mother my best wishes and my love, and thank you for writing to me.

      Moira Greyland

  16. says

    Dear Moira,

    I am Christian Bouchard sister, and i will put all my books written by MZB in the garbage , no i will be recycle then , so no one will read my copies.

    Your an angel Moira,

    Jocelyne

  17. Louise says

    I only encountered MZB twice at cons, and both times, it was a pretty horrible experience, even though I was only an observer to ugly public behaviour and not her target. Any time I tried to tell anyone — trying to explain why I didn’t have fond memories or praise of a “highly regarded member of the community” — it was shrugged off with excuses.

    And I had no idea, until now, that what I saw was only a tip of the real iceberg. I wish my bad impressions had actually been wrong.

    Moira, thank you for your courage and honesty. I salute you and honour you. My thanks to everyone who’s stood by you, and stood up for you, since this started to crack open: I salute and honour them.

  18. Vixy says

    I believe you, Moira.

    I believe you, you other survivors.

    My mother and her sisters were survivors of abuse, as well.

    I wish healing and happiness to all of you.

  19. Cheryl Morris says

    As a social worker and court officer, I learned that abuse is seldom invisible to others close to or within a family. Perhaps now the friends and family of MZB and Breen feel themselves at a safe distance and fail to comment on what they saw and heard; I hope not. Please let Moira and Mark know.

  20. j. lynn ward says

    I know. You know. Some of them sort of know. Some completely understand.

    It’s always there on the fringes of the shadows. Sometimes I reach out, it takes my hand and we dance in the blinding light. Other times I crawl into the shadows with it and we growl at each other, teeth bared.

    The pictures in my head will always be there. I will always feel the ghost hand on my skin.

    Sympathies, apologies, validations. All pretty and useless. The only words worth hearing are my own, echoing inside my ears.

  21. Kay says

    Moira –
    I believe you. My heart breaks for you. Your “Mother’s Hands”–I just do not have words.

    Mists of Avalon was a watershed book for me growing up. It makes me puke to think of me reading by flashlifght under the covers and what abuse was going on. I cannot keep these books on my shelf.

    You are strong. Stay strong with love in your heart and music in your voice.

  22. Elena says

    I am so, so sad for what you’ve been through, Moira.

    I was someone who found a lot of strength and help in MZB’s books, especially when it came to stories of women dealing with and emerging from abusive situations, which just seems so horrible now that I know the truth. I could never read those stories the same way now.

    Is the idea of a boycott helpful, in supporting you in coming forward about your abuse? Or do MZB book sales actually benefit you in any way (via an estate or something)? I want to know how best to be supportive.

  23. Glynna says

    Moira, I was horrified to learn of this and plan to trash all of your mother´s books I own. I applaud your courage in coming forward. BTW I am not a survivor just a SF fan.

    Deirdre, thank you for providing the forum for Moira and other survivors of sexual abuse to be heard. Thank you also for sharing your own personal history. Brava!!

    I challenge all SF fans to open the discussion as well as our eyes to the fact that most abusers are not the dirty stranger outside our communities but often well respected accomplished individuals. It is time we educated ourselves about the ¨grooming¨ strategies and brainwashing techniques abusers rely on to keep themselves hidden in plain sight among us.
    http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Child-Sexual-Abuse-6-Stages-of-Grooming

    • says

      To be clear: I’m not calling for a ban on MZB’s works, but I support the various choices people have made about her works that they already own.

  24. says

    Deirdre,

    Thank you for sharing all this information (and Moira, thank you for heroically sharing your truth). I had never heard of any of this. I was one of those young women who fell hard for “Mists of Avalon” during my misfit adolescence and loved it passionately without knowing anything about its author. I am heartsick to hear about the suffering of Moira and so many other children. For several years, I have had the most popular review of “Mists of Avalon” on Goodreads (once a geek street cred badge of honor; today, not so much) and have amended it to include links to this and several other posts. I would feel ugly and awful continuing to be complicit, even in the tiniest way, with the culture of silence that made Moira feel like she couldn’t speak up. Moira, your bravery is awe-inspiring.

    https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/328066

  25. Vicki Bennett says

    Moira, my heart goes out to you.
    I was there too. Abused.

    My Father’s actions were so wrong, but far worse to me was the betrayal by my Mother – who I am convinced knew all along, though she denied it.
    Then, when forced to face the whole truth too many years later, she refused to fully believe and went back to be with him.

    That hurt a hundred times worse than the abuse.

    The dichotomy of feelings is so difficult to deal with. I hate him, he’s my Father,I should love him!
    When my Father was dying, (slowly and painfully of liver failure due to alcoholism,) I made myself go see him. I vomited three times before finally managing to go into the hospital. But I did it and I am so glad I did.
    On his deathbed I forgave my father, the man, NOT the actions.
    This was really for me, not him, as it helped me let go of the bitterness and anger that was doing a good job of destroying me.

    As for my Mother, I never did find myself able to forgive and the hurt is still inside me. Her own descent into alcoholism and a sudden death removed the chance to deal with that further. I try to tell myself that she just loved him too much, needed him too much to ever give him up – even for me – but it feels a pretty lame excuse.

    Like you, I am lucky enough to have found a partner who supports me, supports my healing and understands if sometimes all can remember is the bad stuff.

    I hope you find your peace.
    Take care.

  26. Raven Tru says

    Moira,
    I’m so sorry. I greatly respected your mother and Diana Paxson, and I desperately did not want to hear this, but I suffered child abuse myself: thus I could not ignore you. My own disgust with that generation is what led me to Paganism. Your mother’s work has been a monumental help to me in finding my path, but your word’s rang true from my own experience. I spent all last night awake pouring over these posts and other blogs and reading your mother’s depositions. You have been truthful and standing up for the weak all along. You are a heroine of reality not fiction, and much more important to me now than Morgaine. I hope this does not offend, but I believe Freya or Odin would rightly have you in their halls, and Frigg, looks on you with great pride. If I may, I have found some understanding of how those who were put here to love us become so flawed in Alice Miller’s work. Maybe it could be of help to you or others on these blogs. I spent the day disassociated and heartsick, but feel newly inspired to speak for a Paganism, and more generally a Feminism that is Safe, Sober, and Sane. Blessed Be, Raven Elizabeth Tru, RET

  27. says

    Moira, if you are still reading this, I wanted to say that we are all listening, and we believe you. Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story.

    And Deirdre, thank you for making the space for it, and for not being silent even when people were being so ugly.

  28. Trying not to be just another victim says

    Moira, and Mark,
    My heart goes out to the two of you (and David). My hat goes off to the both of you. And to Deirdre for having the courage and integrity to publish (and support) what Moira and Mark had the courage to speak publicly about.

    As a survivor of exactly the type of abuse that Moira, Mark, and others here have written about it does my heart good, and soothes my soul, to see this finally talked about in the open.

    But it also opens up deep wounds that I’ve been keeping compressed forever. Wounds that needed to be opened – but still. I wanted to scream when I read Moira’s poem about Mothers ‘doing the best they can’. No matter whom I tried to disclose to, that’s all I ever heard in response. Thank you for writing out your pain in a way that validates so many of us here.

    I have to say, in the spirit of speaking our truths, that I’m feeling incredibly angered and triggered by what I know are well-meaning people who think they are making valid posts about the awareness of child abuse – BUT WHO STILL DON’T EVEN TOUCH ON THE MYTH THAT ONLY MEN ARE CHILD ABUSERS, NOR EVEN MENTION THE EXISTANCE OF FEMALE CHILD ABUSERS. (Sorry for the capitals, but I needed to shout that.)

    It truly breaks my heart that all these years later no-one seems to know of any resources for the survivors of child abuse perpetrated by women. And even sadder to read that some are still championing a gendered approach to this, and asking for services for women abused by other women. It’s the gendered nature of our existing services, imo, and our beliefs about sexual abuse being ‘a male thing’ that have put us in this horrible place: where all this discussion of ‘myths’ often perpetuates other myths, and more importantly moves the focus off the abuse and its impact on the victims, and onto the largely irrelevant finer details – like gender. (Not just sexual abuse, btw – all types of abuse really. In extreme violence at some point the ‘type’ of abuse is largely irrelevant.)

    A monster is a monster, is a monster. His/her colour, age, size, class, fame, etc… are largely irrelevant and unrelated to his/her intent to harm. The same thing – in reverse – goes for their victims. Anyone can be an abuser. Anyone can be a victim. Anyone who chooses to be a monster and harm others – and takes enjoyment from that harm – is generally using his/her own abuse merely as an excuse to project their hurt onto innocent others. All kinds of abuse victims can accidentally act out in fear, etc… The difference is whether there is remorse and an attempt to make amends to the person they’ve harmed.

    Speaking of which, my apologies, Moira and Deirdre, for ranting a bit on your post, and your story. (Story? Issue? Experience? My tongue is tied. I can’t find the words to describe what you’ve illustrated, that doesn’t remind me of how it’s so often diminished or invalidated,. Please accept my apologies if I’ve done the same here.)

    Here are a few resources I’ve come across re: female offenders. I hope they will help others, as they’ve helped me. And I hope we can all finally get this out in the open enough to stop with the gendered madness and just start talking about violence and abuse, and how to heal its victims, regardless of how we otherwise describe them.

    http://www.female-offenders.com/
    http://www.female-offenders.com/Safehouse/
    http://mdsa-online.org/
    http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9780754635659
    http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-78994437.html
    htt;://www.jstor.org/stable/3813326
    http://www.amazon.com/When-She-Was-Bad-Innocence/dp/0670859257
    http://www.amazon.com/Female-Sex-Offenders-Therapists-Enforcement/dp/1930461003/
    http://kalimunro.com/wp/articles-info/sexual-emotional-abuse/male-sexual-abuse-victims-of-female-perpetrators
    http://kalimunro.com/wp/articles-info/sexual-emotional-abuse/mother-daughter-sexual-abuse
    http://www.jimhopper.com/male-ab/#fem
    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2009/oct/04/uk-female-child-sex-offenders
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1215464/Why-I-loathe-feminism—believe-ultimately-destroy-family.html
    http://www.secasa.com.au/pages/breaking-the-last-taboo-sexual-abuse-by-female-perpetrators/
    http://www.nspcc.org.uk/Inform/research/findings/femaleswhosexuallyoffend_wda48273.html

    • says

      My primary (in the sense of long-term harm done) abuser was female, though I was battered by my father for longer. So I get your point.

      A lot of people can’t conceive of female abusers, to which I say: if you don’t think it’s possible, then that’s a form of sexism.

      (I’ve deleted two comments on this series of posts over six weeks. One was for being very off-topic. The other was someone who clearly hadn’t read deeply and wanted to keep the illusion that Breen was the bigger abuser and MZB was more perfect than she was. I wrote back and suggested the person may wish to read more deeply, and if they had something more relevant to say, I’d post that. So far, no such thing has happened.)

  29. Anon says

    Moira, I believe you.

    I feel I have a billion things to say here, but I don’t want to hijck a thread with my own social justice crusade. Let me just say this:

    I believe you.
    I have never liked your mother’s works, always felt a darkness emanating from them. I don’t believe in separating the artist entirely from her work, and the darkness in the books made me feel more likely to believe your story.
    My own abusive mother liked your mother’s books. Reading in college my own mother’s favorite book, Mists Of Avalon, triggered me so hard I developed anxiety attacks and had to drop out of school. From that semester, I began to seek recovery and put my memories of abuse together. So in a backwards way, MZB “helped” me, too. I don’t thank her.
    I have experienced sexual, emotional, verbal, physical, and psychological abuse at the hands of multiple girls and women. So has my partner.
    We have got to break this “women can’t be abusers” taboo. It’s a simplistic, almost-superstitious holdover from the early days of feminism. In order to truly serve women as a society, we have to help them heal not just from being victims, but also heal from being abusers if they are. Women are strong enough to face this.
    There is no terror like a bad mother. It rends the very sky.
    I haven’t got any words for how much I wish I could comfort your heart. You are heard. Big hugs, sister. Thank you for your courage, I am still waiting to get enough to publicly tell my own story.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Two days later, Dierdre blogged again, this time with an open letter from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s own daughter. I will link, but not quote, and I warn you, if you have a tender heart, prepare to have it pierced if you click through to read. http://deirdre.net/marion-zimmer-bradley-its-worse-than-i-knew/ […]

  2. […] of this abuse have been revealed in court documents, in journals from witnesses at the time, and in statements from Bradley’s daughter, Moira. Many people have been writing about this extensively in the past few weeks, including Deirdre […]

  3. […] A blog post from Deirdre Saoirse Moen, in which Moira Greyland, daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen, states that Bradley molested her starting when she was three years old and continuing until Greyland was twelve and able to walk away. Greyland also describes Breen as “a serial rapist with many, many victims,” but says Marion “was far, far worse.” […]

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