|Anne Marie and Eric Erikkson|
By Griffin Reed
It took Erik 59 years to come out from under the shadow of what his outwardly well-functioning but emotionally disturbed mother did to him between the time he was 11 and 18. As an adult, he now recognizes that she used sex to keep him under her control. Once young Erik decided that what his mother was doing to him was wrong, he quickly married and left home, attempting to keep his marriage a secret. Erik believes that, because of his mother's own traumatic background, her failings were not intentional.
Tragically, Erik's first wife died of cancer. His mother tried to re-enter his life again at that time, but by then he was strong enough to resist her. Before long, he re-married and embarked on successful careers as a military pilot and then as a technical writer. His second marriage was happy enough, and he fathered two sons in the bargain. Again, tragedy struck -- Erik's second wife also died of cancer. He turned to drink to stave off the shame, grief, and guilt, becoming an alcoholic. After four years, he sobered up with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous and met his present wife, Anne Marie, a pioneer in the incest survivor movement, at the first meeting of an organization she had started as a vehicle to enable incest survivors to provide education to the public and to interact with professional groups, as well as provide peer groups for themselves.
Erik says his road to healing has been a long and painful process. But in his marriage with Anne-Marie, a retired probation officer, he has found peace at last. Together they turned their pain into triumph by founding Incest Survivors Resource Network International (ISRNI) in 1983; an expansion of the organization began by Anne-Marie. For both of them, this volunteer service has been their Quaker peace ministry.