When Rosemary Neidig was diagnosed with breast cancer and was told she might have only a year to live, she wanted to share her life's memories with her children. She wanted her two older children to know their biological father; they had been adopted by her second husband, Paul Neidig, but they had few, if any, memories of their late father, Fred Fischer.
So Neidig searched for memories to share and realized she had distinctly blank spots in her past and couldn't remember anything prior to Fred Fischer's death. She sought help from a psychotherapist and discovered almost more than she could handle.
The first half of her book, "Every Two Minutes," reads like a typical childhood, adolescence, young motherhood and successful public servant saga. She grew up in Williamsport, married a local boy while in her teens, had two children by her first marriage, three by her second and successfully completed an education at the former and then landed a job in the county's Domestic Relations Department, eventually becoming its director. Later, the local YWCA needed an executive director, so she applied and was accepted.
And then, the breast cancer, surgery and psychotherapy. The picture that uncovered was a history of sexual abuse that dated back to when she was two years old, when her grandfather volunteered to give her baths and continued with what she was forbidden to speak about.
At age 12, she was raped by a thug in Way's Garden. But continued to bury her memories about the forbidden incident. Further, when she was 23, after the death of Fischer, a local Catholic priest came to her home to "console" her; he raped her in her bedroom while her two toddlers slept in the next room. Again, she told no one.
As Neidig began to face these painful memories, she also began to share them with people.
She found an aunt who confirmed her grandfather's propensity for sexual abuse. She sought out the Catholic priest who raped her and even got him to apologize - "Look me in the eye, when you say you're sorry," she yelled. Partly because the statute of limitations had run out for legal claims in these cases, she decided to write "Every Two Minutes" to bring attention to these names.
She also wanted to encourage other victims of sexual abuse to speak out and not bury their fears as she had.
After she recovered her wholeness, she ran a successful counseling service for other victims, sending her message out by giving public speeches on stress management for women.
The title of her book comes from the statistic that sexual abuse in this country occurs every two minutes.
Neidig is part of Otto Bookstore's First Friday authors. She will sign her book at the store, 107 W. Fourth St., from 5 to 8 p.m. Sept. 6.