Rhonda Thompson, Arizona mother and pediatric nurse, showcases a story of resilience in “The Silent Screaming,” a raw book that explores overcoming sexual abuse and navigating the labyrinth of mental illness alongside her son. Read on as Thompson graciously shares the inspiration behind her book and discover an affirmation that every voice, no matter how silent, deserves to be heard.
In “The Silent Screaming,” you open up about overcoming sexual abuse and navigating the challenges of mental illness, both for yourself and your son. What inspired you to share your story?
There remains a stigma around sexual abuse and mental illness, and I wanted to share my story and prove that it is possible to shatter the cycle of trauma and carve a path toward a healthy, successful life.
Your book highlights the challenges of raising a son with special needs and the importance of giving him a voice. Can you share a moment that motivated you to become an advocate for children with special needs?
During one of my son’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings, a realization struck me as I found myself in a heated debate with the school over his diagnosis. It became clear to me that unless I actively advocated for him, he might not receive the essential resources he needed. Contemplating the prospect of other parents facing similar meetings, I began to consider the potential consequences of their reluctance to advocate for their children assertively. The thought of an ongoing cycle of disadvantage for these children, coupled with the enduring fear and guilt parents might grapple with, weighed heavily on my mind.
Mental illness and ongoing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are significant themes in your book. How do you hope your journey will resonate with readers facing similar struggles?
I aspire for our story to serve as an inspiration, instilling hope in those who read it. Recognizing that everyone’s narrative is unique, it’s important to acknowledge that not every tale concludes with a blissful ending. However, amidst the twists and turns of our journey, I advocate for holding onto hope and embracing love.
Your book not only shares your personal story but also aims to educate readers about mental illness and abuse. How do you envision your book contributing to a greater understanding of these issues and what do you hope readers take away from it?
I hope to foster a broader understanding among readers that individuals with special needs encompass a diverse range of experiences beyond those who use wheelchairs or are marked by physical disabilities. Some may outwardly appear “normal” yet grapple with unseen challenges. I earnestly desire that readers extend compassion and empathy to all, recognizing that struggles may manifest in various forms.
Do you have plans for future projects or initiatives? How do you envision continuing your advocacy work and positively impacting the lives of those facing similar challenges?
As a pediatric nurse, my advocacy never stops and given the pressing national behavioral health crisis, a significant portion of our efforts is dedicated to addressing and mitigating its impact. I do not currently have a second book in the works.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to become advocates for mental health or children with special needs? How can they make a meaningful impact within their communities?
If individuals express interest in advocating for mental health, I recommend reaching out to local resources within their communities to explore volunteer opportunities and ways to create a positive impact. Each community possesses unique resources, and you can initiate this journey by inquiring at your local church, school or YMCA to discover avenues for contribution. It’s important to recognize that making a significant impact doesn’t necessarily require testifying on Capitol Hill. Offering your time and support to someone in need through acts of kindness can go a long way in fostering positive change.
To learn more about Thompson, or to purchase a copy of her book, visit amazon.com.