Beverly Donofrio is known for her best-selling memoir “Riding in Cars with Boys,” where she wrote about her experience as a teen mom. That book was made into a film starring Drew Barrymore in 2001.
She followed up with “Looking for Mary,” a memoir about her spiritual life. But just as she was taking the next step in her spiritual life, planning to join a monastery in Mexico, she was raped at knife point in her own home. But instead of succumbing to fear and shame, she fought back in her own way. Now she shares that story and her journey of healing through forgiveness in a new book called “Astonished: A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace.”
During an interview on NPR, Donofrio explained how she survived the rape by praying out loud the Hail Mary in Spanish:
“And he (the attacker) said, you’re praying, stop praying. And I said, I’m praying for you, which was a lie, and then I thought, well, it should be the truth. So then I said a Hail Mary interiorly, praying for him, that he see what he was doing, the wrong in it, and heal from whatever was making him do it. And then the next Hail Mary, I’m praying, please, Jesus, God, Mary, every angel, saint, dead relative, get this man out of my house.”
Surprisingly, the man backed off the bed and left.
The next day, Donofrio wrote an article for the local newspaper detailing her experience and offering advice for other women who might become victims of rape. Five days after the story ran in the newspaper, the man who attacked her was captured. He was the serial rapist who had been attacking women in the town for eight months, severely beating two of the women who had fought back.
Asked how she began the healing process. Donofrio said, “Well, you know, when you can’t forgive – and I couldn’t for a long time – it hurts you. It doesn’t hurt the person or anyone else. It’s you that it’s hurting, keeping negative, angry feelings alive. I mean, I couldn’t help those feelings. I was angry, but I did have the will. I knew that I wanted to forgive because I wanted to just let it go and get on. It took probably four years before this happened. And I do feel healed.”