July 12th, 2024

Alice Munro’s daughter says mom kept silent when stepfather sexually abused her

By The Canadian Press on July 7, 2024.

The youngest daughter of celebrated author Alice Munro says her mother stayed with a man who sexually abused her as a child and sided with her husband when the truth came out. Munro attends a ceremony where the Royal Canadian Mint unveiled a silver five-dollar coin in honour of her Nobel Prize win, in Victoria, Monday, March 24, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

The youngest daughter of celebrated author Alice Munro has written a first-person essay in The Toronto Star detailing sexual abuse by her stepfather and her mother’s decision to side with her husband over her child.

In the piece, published Sunday, Andrea Robin Skinner describes how the Nobel Prize-winning short story writer remained in her marriage to second husband Gerald Fremlin even after she learned of the abuse.

In the Star story, Skinner says Fremlin climbed into her bed and initiated sexual contact in 1976 when she was 9 years old.

She says Fremlin continued to expose himself to her and proposition her for sex until he lost interest when she reached her teens.

Skinner reported the incident to police in 2005, and Fremlin ultimately pleaded guilty to a charge of indecent assault. She says the incident remained an open secret in the Munro family for years and she was ultimately estranged from her mother, who Skinner says sided with her husband and treated the abuse as an injury to herself.

Skinner writes in the Star that she and her siblings wanted to allow Canadians to have a more complete picture of her mother, who was hailed as a Canadian literary icon well before her death in May .

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2024.

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