Former Maconite publishes compilation of ‘hurting’ women’s stories

A young girl hides as her drunken father threatens to kill her, then himself.

A woman struggles with a serious food addiction.

An airplane stewardess is raped by a bellhop during a layover hotel stay.

Anonymous stories, letters and poems written by 30 women are compiled in “Bloom in the Dark,” a book by former Macon resident Paula Wallace.

“Each story is a person’s reality, what they went through, how it felt, how they survived it and how they came out on the other side,” she said.

Wallace said her goal was to help women suffering through trying times to feel hope for a brighter future by reading about other people’s experiences.

“My premise is that you can be an ex-victim,” Wallace said. “You’re not alone and you’re not stuck.”

For every book purchased, Wallace is donating a copy to a charity that helps “hurting women.”

Wallace admits she comes from a “broken past” that includes different types of abuse.

Last summer, she filed a sexual discrimination lawsuit against a former employer who she alleged offered to pay for her to undergo breast enlargement surgery, then threatened her job after she rebuffed sexual advances.

Wallace would not confirm whether the lawsuit ended in a settlement. Bibb County Superior Court records show that the case was dismissed jointly by the parties about two months after it was filed.

Wallace now lives in Tennessee, where she’s a single mother home schooling her three sons.

She said the idea for the faith-based book was born about 18 months ago, a time when she felt isolated and ashamed to reach out for help.

“In talking to people, I realized how universal it was,” Wallace said.

The book’s title is derived from the feeling that “you’re in a dark hole, you feel like there’s no hope and no light, like your circumstances are hopeless, like you deserve the abuse and damage that you’re going through and like there’s no way out,” she said.

Wallace returned to Macon for the book’s launch Aug. 1. In the book’s first weekend, 258 copies were distributed -- half sold and half donated.

The book is available in print and as an e-book at Amazon.com.

Macon’s Crossroads Counseling Center has received 100 of the donated books.

Therapists have already started handing out the books to clients, said Robyn Schopp, the outpatient Christian counseling center’s executive director.

“The therapists here have been most receptive,” she said.

Wallace said she’s started work on a second book, the story of another abused woman’s journey.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398 or find her on Twitter @awomackmacon.