He made a choice that landed him in prison. Ultimately she has to make a choice, too—whether she wants to continue a relationship with an incarcerated man.
Cynthia James faced that choice. Then she wrote a book about it.
She came to talk about all that in the West Rock neighborhood Wednesday, with some people who know the deal.
In Warning Don’t Go There!, Cynthia James (pictured above), who is a certified sexual assault crisis counselor, tells her personal experience with a man she met while he was in prison, a choice that put a stress on her future and made her into a crutch for his rehabilitation. She became “a sincere prison wife, doing prison time with him.”
After she divorced him in 2007, she was able to reflect on the experience. At first, her writing was simply a form of therapy. After a coworker suggested she make into a book, James realized the potential of her personal story and its ability to warn other women to not “go there”.
James was invited by Lensley Gay (pictured at right with James), site coordinator for the Katherine Brennan School Family Resource Center, to speak about her book and offer guidance to women thinking about or going through similar situations. The event was part of free programs offered to parents to “encourage children’s educational skills through parent-skill growing,” said Gay.
According to James, vulnerability, low self-esteem, and a need to be in control are all factors that lead women to seek a relationship with a man in prison. She said men need “to be allowed to rehabilitate themselves. You become a crutch for them. When I finally broke it off with him, I gained control.”
Vivian Frazier (pictured) could relate. Her best friend married a man in prison who was killed during his time there. Frazier had warned her friend to not become involved in the relationship, but her friend “didn’t listen to me. I always tell her God will you get her through the process.”
“I’m glad I’m getting this book, because I want to give it to my daughter, because she was close to going there. She has a child with a man who’s in jail for 40 years,” said Sheila Waters (pictured at right with Frazier).
“There’s no future if you’re with him. He can’t be the father you want him to be. If she reads this book she’ll see she made the right decision because it’s not her responsibility to deal with him.”
James believes that it was all in God’s plan to go through the experience and write the book. “I pray God continues to use me to spread the word about this problem. Each of us has a choice to make that affects everyone around us. And it is our responsibility to make the right decision. Hopefully my story will show to girls that there are other options, and you can learn how to get out of it, stay out of it, and don’t go there,” she said.
Shirley Moss (pictured) said she believes that James had “God within (her) so she wasn’t destroyed completely from the relationship and divorce. Had you been weak, you would have gone under.”
And if you do get involved with a relationship and decide to break it off, James advises, then “move on. Establish some morals and make good decisions for you and your family.”
The book is available for $16.95 on Amazon Kindle. You can order it here or by calling: 203-565-7223.