By Eric Hansen, Vicksburg District Library Reference Librarian
Slow Escape is the true story of Lorie Williams, who was abused by her father for 27 years. With help from a friendly teacher, Laurel Macon, Lorie eventually escaped from this brutal situation and began to develop a more stable life.
Slow Escape: 27 Years to Freedom, a memoir told by Lorie to Laurel Macon, is a release from Oaker Press, and on March 30, from 6-8 p.m. Lorie Williams and Laurel Macon will visit the Vicksburg District Library to read excerpts and conduct a question and answer session. This book discussion is free and open to the public. Signed copies will be available for sale.
In a sense, the memoir is a Michigan true-crime story, detailing the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse that Lorie endured. It details the hardships that her mother and siblings suffered under Lorie’s father and choices that Lorie made that helped her endure. In one case, when she was a girl, she remembered that she clutched a tiny necklace her father had given her and decided,“Sometimes, when angry words and the sound of beatings filled the house … I would pretend then that the tiny necklace was like an anchor … It would give me a little bit of hope that things might be better someday. That is all I want—for things to get better.”
This memoir is a detailed discussion of how a child can strive to mediate between different adults and children with different hopes and different agendas. Almost every figure in Lorie’s life is struggling with terrible anger and frustration. Throughout the memoir, Lorie’s father teaches his children to steal as a daily chore – just a part of surviving in the world – and he describes perfect strangers in language otherwise reserved for a man’s worst enemies. Lorie struggles to create peace and retain her faith in that environment, even while she was a child and could not understand the cruelty she experienced.
In 1974, Laurel Macon was Lorie’s second-grade school teacher. When Macon learned that some schoolboys had attacked Lorie, she spoke with the girl, and consequently learned that the child had been assaulted by her half-brother. That conversation led to a meeting with police and social workers that caused a brief pause in the abuse Lorie suffered. But afterward the abuse continued, and throughout the memoir a reader might question how a system intended to protect children can fail so spectacularly.
Two decades later, Laurel Macon and Lorie re-connected when Macon saw Lorie on the television news. Because Macon desired to help her former student, and because she felt the system had failed Lorie, Macon felt it was important to help tell the story of the years Lorie spent under her father’s control.
Macon has said, “I see this book as keeping a promise. I believe that when a child asks for help, we as a society should do all we can to make things right.”
By the end of her captivity Lorie had been pregnant 15 times. She had been forced to live in a patched tent and a ramshackle old school bus. For a time, her only means of income was deceiving Amish farmers into buying food that she and her father had scrounged from dumpsters.
With Macon’s assistance, and because of her perseverance and faith, Williams has raised six children. She gained a home through the Habitat for Humanity program, and started her own business.