Kate's Reviews > Empty Chairs: Much more than a story about child abuse

Empty Chairs by Stacey Danson
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Apr 06, 2011

it was amazing

Empty Chairs is a shocking and extraordinary account of Stacey Danson's survival from the most harrowing sexual and physical abuse she was subjected to from the age of three by her mother and a succession of men. Yet there's an absence of self-pity in the recounting, Stacey tell it as it is, with emotional honesty and simplicity, making it all the more poignant. But Stacey is a survivor. We see the emergence of her indomitable spirit which helps her escape from her intolerable situation. At the tender age of eleven she runs away and the rest of this astounding autobiography is given over to her survival on the streets where she arms herself with a knife and a few other essentials, including a radio, and earns herself a street name - Sassy Girl or Sassy. She lives from day to day, night to night, in cliff recesses, doorways, parks, beach huts and dock warehouses, surviving on old bruised fruit from the market and water from toilet blocks, or, when she can, food and drink from Paulie's cafe where the pimps and 'working girls' hang out. It would have been so easy for someone so young and vulnerable and desperate as Stacey to have ended up in prostitution, like the other girls at Paulie's cafe, but in spite of the growing menace and eventual abuse and violence Stacey is subjected to, she resists. She's made a promise to herself that she won't allow her body to be prostituted so she can 'keep mind and body intact'. We feel her exhaustion and fear as she is hounded from place to place with threats from predators or as a result of witnessing torture or murder. In spite of her constant references to her age, I had to keep pinching yourself to remember that I was reading the account of an eleven-year-old girl, so old is the head on her shoulders. Her intuition and outspokenness are undoubtedly her saviour. At the end of the book, we just begin to see glimpses of the next phase of Stacey's life and I think - I hope - this is a taster for her next book as I for one want to see what happens next on her incredible journey from then to now.
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