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Seattle University


A secret no more

Written by Mike Thee
December 11, 2009

Bonnie Norris, administrative assistant with SU’s Army ROTC program, set out to write a very different book. Her original plan was to chronicle the unraveling of her first marriage. But she came to see there was another book that had to come first. In Keeper of Secrets: My story of sexual abuse, Norris shares a story from her more distant past.

As an adolescent growing up in Detroit, Norris was molested by a man who at the time was her sister’s husband. In writing the book she learned, surprisingly, that she was not alone—at least two of her sisters had similar experiences. “All of us females who were touched inappropriately kept the secret for over 25 years,” she says.

Why didn’t they speak up sooner? “Because it changes the dynamic,” Norris says. “It changed everything. There’s a split in our family now.” 

Still, she’s glad she wrote the book. She actually co-authored it with the man she remarried. She says that doing the book with her husband was at times a laborious task, with many drafts being passed back and forth between the two. “But it worked well,” she says. “Most guys don’t want to write about this, but because we’re a couple, we could talk about it. It actually worked well for our marriage, because it helped us understand each other’s behavior.” 

While the book deals with a very personal situation, Norris believes there’s a more universal lesson in its pages—to not ignore warning signs or stay silent when something is not right. Norris’s book, which came out last month, is already attracting notice. She was recently invited to speak to a P.E.A.C.E. of Mind. She happily accepted and says she’s more than willing to share her story and the lessons learned with any other organizations that might benefit from her perspective.

Keeper of Secrets is now available in the SU Bookstore.