Today on the Debutante Ball, I’m honored to welcome our very own Lynn K. Hall, author of CAGED EYES, an insider’s account of misogyny and rape in the US military and her extraordinary path to recovery and activism.
Desperate to realize her childhood dream of being an astronaut, Lynn K. Hall was an enthusiastic young cadet. For Hall, the military offered an escape from her chaotic home—her erratic mother, absent biological father, and a man she called “dad” who sexually abused her. Resolute and committed to the Air Force Academy, Hall survived the ordeals of a first-year cadet: intense hazing from upperclassmen, grueling physical training, and demanding coursework. But she’s dismissed from the Academy when, after being raped by an upperclassman and contracting herpes, she is diagnosed with meningitis and left with chronic and debilitating pain.
Betrayed by the Academy and overcome with shame, Hall candidly recounts her loss of self, the dissociation from her body and the forfeiture of her individuality as a result of the military’s demands and her perpetrator’s abuse. Forced to leave the military and return to the civilian world, Hall turns to extreme sports to cope with and overcome PTSD and chronic pain. She, in turn, reclaims herself on the mountain trails of the Colorado Rockies.
An intimate account of grappling with shame and a misogynistic culture that condones rape and blames victims, CAGED EYES is also a transformative story of how it’s possible to help yourself and others in the aftermath of a profound injustice.
If CAGED EYES sounds heavy, it’s because it is, in the best way possible. Lynn bears her soul, in the pursuit of helping others. That’s the type of remarkable woman (not female, but woman. If you’ve already read CAGED EYES, you’ll better understand that reference) Lynn is. As she herself has said:
I didn’t write this story because I wanted the most painful parts of my life documented in excruciating detail for strangers. I certainly didn’t write it as an act of “healing” or redemption. I wrote it because Caged Eyes reflects the experiences of far too many. The details of my story are unique, but there isn’t a single element of it that happened to me alone. Each plot twist has happened to at least dozens if not hundreds or millions of other people.
Caged Eyes isn’t the story of my life; it’s the story of what happens to far too many young adults. The fear which most often keeps me awake at night is the fear that that translation will be lost.
Lynn has a beautiful way with words, a beautiful way with life, and an infallible strength I hope to emulate in my own life–and I encourage everyone to read her memoir, CAGED EYES.
In fact, we’d love to give you a copy. To enter to win, you can retweet this tweet on twitter:
— The Debutante Ball (@DebutanteBall) February 11, 2017
Or you can share our post from Facebook. We will select and contact the very lucky winner on Friday, February 17th at noon (US Only).
But first, let’s get to know Lynn even better, with some of our lighter and goofier Deb Ball Interview questions.
What three things would you want with you if stranded on a desert island?
Pajamas, chocolate, and a cat. Oh, and yeah, a few books. Okay that’s four. But all are essential! Obviously.
What time of day do you love best?
The morning because I love beginnings. Then again, I also love the (somewhat rare) feeling of going to sleep knowing I made the most of a day.
Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters?
Do you remember the movie Whip It? I love the main character, Bliss, played by Ellen Page. I’m such a wuss in some ways, and I’d probably be crushed if I ever tried to do roller derby, but I think it’s such a cool sport. Plus a line from that movie is one of my all-time favorites: “Be your own hero.”
Which talent do you wish you had?
Making up stories! I’m so in awe of fiction writers. I’m looking at you, Crystal, Amy, Jenni, and Tiffany!! I’d love to join your ranks someday.
Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.
My book is out!!! I’m so excited to be doing a reading tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, 2pm!) in my home state of Colorado. I know many of my friends will pack the place and I think it will feel like quite a celebratory moment.
Thanks so much for joining us, Lynn. Your Deb Ball sisters couldn’t be more proud of what you’ve accomplished by publishing CAGED EYES!
Lynn Hall is an activist in the movement against sexual violence whose writing has appeared in New York Times, LA Times, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society and Hippocampus Magazine, among other publications. She lives in Boulder, CO. For more information about Lynn and her book, please visit lynnkhall.com. You can also catch Lynn on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!