Kim Michele Richardson has appeared on WHAS-11 TV Newsmaker with Rachel Platt, PBS-KET TV One to One with Bill Goodman, and more than 50 radios stations across the country. Kim is available by appointment for press interviews or to appear as a guest on local or network television and radio.
Kim's media package includes numerous print-ready images, her biography, an excerpt from The Unbreakable Child, reviews, her current contact information, as well as contact information for her agent and distributor. The entire package is available for download here: Kim - Media Package
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Publication Oct 2012 Third Edition
Kim Michele Richardson
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Kim - Biography
Kim Michele Richardson is a survivor of institutional clergy abuse. Abandoned to a Catholic orphanage as an infant in the 1960’s, for nearly a decade she was exposed to unspeakable abuses by Catholic nuns and a Catholic priest of The Roman Catholic Church.
The orphanage abuses finally came to light in 2004, when Kim and her sisters, along with forty-four former orphans, initiated a lawsuit against the St. Thomas Saint Vincent Orphan Asylum in Anchorage, Kentucky. Capturing headlines and mobilizing public outrage, past shocking horrors were revealed. The Catholic Church and the Sisters of Charity fought vigorously to have the lawsuit dismissed, but Kim and the other plaintiffs stood firm.
During the legal proceedings Kim was subjected to intense, and at times, demeaning and humiliating examination by a battery of lawyers in an attempt to defend the orphanage and discredit her testimony. However, the truth was recognized during the discovery phrase, and in August 2006 a small settlement was reached by the parties. It would become the first time in United States history any victims of a Catholic orphanage received monetary restitution for abuses suffered at the hands of Roman Catholic nuns.
Kim has written a book detailing her life at the orphanage and her experience during the trial. Kim's story, The Unbreakable Child, will soon be available in print and ebook formats.
Kim currently works closely with abuse victims of all ages, conducting teen and adult writing workshops and student reading groups. She writes articles for The Huffington Post on the subject of institutional clergy abuse and other societal issues such as elder care and protecting our teens. Additionally, she speaks to various organizations about the need to remain vigilant to signs of abuse in the community.
Kim has been fortunate to have wonderful second and third chapters to her life. Not everyone who starts out terrified and hurt is so lucky. One of her most cherished goals is that her story will kindle the hearts of people who have been victimized and who are struggling to overcome their own adversities.
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Kim Michele Richardson
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Excerpt - Chapter Three: Communion
I sat in silence as my husband, Joe, drove me home from the attorney's meeting.
"Well? What was he like?"
"Polite, charming..." I smiled at my rugged, handsome cowboy husband, then closed my eyes and let my head fall back against the seat."
"You okay?" Joe's fingers wrapped around mine like a shield against heartache's thump, and for a brief moment I felt my heart crease, loved, protected; no longer an orphan.
I opened my eyes, met his, and thought, he still doesn't know.
Oh, he knew I'd be joining the lawsuit to support my sisters and that I was raised in an orphanage. He knew only that. I'm sure he had suspicions. Still, I had never shared the details of any of the abuses I'd suffered. And, ever gracious, he'd respected my privacy for over seventeen years.
I suddenly felt guilty that I had so easily offered to a stranger what I guarded so closely from my own. I looked down at Joe's hand and I knew I had to talk to him soon. He deserved that.
"It was difficult..."
Joe kissed me and I could tell the kiss was balm for past pains I'd suffered and for those I'd yet to receive.
I lapsed into silence.
Silence. The dozens of nuns, orphans, and the few relatives in the chapel made barely a rustle. I ran my hands over the satin fabric of my Communion dress and waited for Father Lammers to give the signal to approach the altar. I remembered Sister Charlie's earlier warning about keeping the borrowed dress perfect, and I sat on my hands to still them and quiet my mind. I was slowly learning the rules of survival at Saint Thomas.
I was becoming a big girl. How old was I now? Six? Birthdays were not celebrated. And although time was not marked in measures of birthday or celebrations at the orphanage, I'd always felt I possessed a strongly adult sense of time, the way it flew and what all of it meant to hold for me. Still, I needed to remember to ask my sisters the next time Mass ran over. Maybe while passing in the halls, or even better, at breakfast. They always knew.
With age came the promise of survival and strength. Wild Injun, they called me. I took no offense, if the nuns thought me one, I'd act as one. Sometimes I would defy them and refuse to bend when beaten. One of the latest thrashings had taken place on the playground when the nun thought I'd bumped line in the hopscotch line. I did not. I'd been the one bumped. The nun towered over me, hand drawn back, and I found myself once again trying to defend myself with useless, whispering pleas and continued to do so even after two slaps to the face. In the midst of the assault, I remember turning my head, cradling my face to shield the blows.
I caught a glimpse of the road leading out of the orphanage and I snuck a peek upward. The sky was swollen and gray from a quick and sudden spring shower. At the end of the road there was a vibrant rainbow's arch which seemed to pulse like time ticking, then stretch - stretch across and disappear at the entry. Then the sun's rays peeked out showing changes to come. At that moment a strange calm and a sense of control enveloped me. A moment I grabbed and bottled, and one that I found I would reach for again and again during my youth to draw strength from: One day I'm going to be the rainbow at the end of that road and I will stretch across, disappear, and I will be in charge of my changes.
I'd turned back to my abuser, raised my chin and gave an ice-cold glare, and it became clear to me that I was nurturing the strength of my spirit with small rebellions. I could outlast them because time was on my side. They knew it and I knew it. And I knew that I'd never be completely broken.
Pulling up my sleeve, I hooked it over my shoulder while walking slowly into the building and into Sister Charlie's dorm.
She was waiting for me. I looked into the nun's angry eyes. "You're late. You're dirty," she boomed. She took the hem of my dress, pulled it up and rubbed it hard across my face.
"Dirty Injun!" She gripped my arms and shook me. My teeth chattered. Then she jerked me up by my arm, lifting me easily onto a chair. I heard a snapping sound from my arm and yelped. I blinked back tears and reached to rub the pain only to have her smack my hand.
I made a fist. It hurt. She grabbed my hands and attacked my fingernails with the scissors. "The Devil likes vain, talkative Dirty Injuns, but I'm here to make you pleasing to God." When she finished, I looked and saw they were cut to the quick and bloodied, as always.
"Sister Charlie, my arm hurts bad." I touched my forearm. "Awful bad, Sister Ch -"
She snatched me off the chair and dragged me to Sister Charlotte, the nurse.
Sister Charlotte wiggled my arm, forcing a groan out of me. "Nothing but a greenstick break, if even that," she told Sister Charlie.
All the way back to Sister Charlie's dorm, I kept looking down at my arm, worrying about it turning green, shriveling up, and falling off like a dead twig on a tree.
Download: Excerpt - The Unbreakable Child
The Unbreakable Child - Reviews
"While the abuses of Catholic priests have been making headlines in recent years, little has been heard about mistreatment at the hands of nuns. Here Richardson, who was raised in a Catholic orphanage in Kentucky in the 1960s, recounts the horrors that she and countless other children endured there and takes readers on her journey to rid herself of the awful memories. Her catharsis comes with a lawsuit, which she and 44 other survivors brought against the order that ran the orphanage.
Richardson tells two simultaneous stories. In one, she recalls episodes from her childhood where her misbehavior ... led to unheard-of punishments. In the other, she takes us through the steps of the ... lawsuit, from the first meeting with the attorney to the first deposition where a sister was present to, finally, a settlement, the first of its kind against Catholic nuns.
Hers is a beautifully told story about strength and an enduring faith that can lead but one place: to forgiveness."
~ American Library Association *Booklist Starred Review*
"An inspiring story of a girl who would not be broken. One of the best ... books I have ever read in my life. Pain, despair, courage and hope fill every page ... It should be required reading for parents, social workers and especially employees and volunteers of every denomination."
~ Morris Dees, founder of The Poverty Law Center, author: A Lawyer's Journey, The Morris Dees Story, Hate on Trial, The Case Against America's Most Dangerous Neo-Nazi.
THE UNBREAKABLE CHILD in the September 2009 issue, WRITER'S DIGEST, Writer's Workbook feature, 'Master The Memoir Basics: 5 Essentials' references Kim's story as a wonderful model of how to craft a hopeful ending. "It's a gut-wrenching book, but one thing saves it from being merely depressing...it delivers what the title promises."
"Excellent endorsement, and a helpful example to those in the throes of their own life's story."
~ J.M. AuthorScoop
"I want to begin this year with a review of a book that comes with a message from a Kentucky author and has touched me more than any book I've read in the past year. Grim yet ultimately inspiring, "The Unbreakable Child" is a harrowing biography that catalogs years of institutional abuse that took place in the Saint Thomas-Saint Vincent Orphan Asylum, a Catholic orphanage in Anchorage, KY." Read the entire review at: http://www.thenewsenterprise.com/content/bookshelf-unbreakable-child
~ THE NEWS-ENTERPRISE
"For my language Arts Class I had to read a book and make a poster. I picked The Unbreakable Child because it seemed like a good book, and after reading it I decided it has to be one of the best. It showed me that life could be so much harder and I have great blessings in my life. And after reading it I just wanted to thank my mom."
~ A.T. age 16, Kenai Alaska
"A harrowing, but beautifully crafted saga of one woman's courageous fight against evil, and her victory over the greatest titan in history--the Catholic church. This is a book that will haunt you."
~ Alanna Nash, author: The Colonel
"The Unbreakable Child is an act of courage, a book that insists on the primacy of justice, no matter how long the delay. Kim Michele Richardson, an author determined to give traumatic memories a rightful meaning, is one indestructible woman."
~ Jason Berry, author: Vows of Silence
"The Unbreakable Child is not so much a tragic tale as it is a testament to the resilience of human nature and the fighting spirit residing somewhere in each of us. In recounting her childhood abuse at the hands of those we most revere and put our trust in, Kim encourages victims everywhere to stand up to the bullies and bully pulpits that dictate to us and misuse positions of authority.
The Unbreakable Child is more than a wakeup call for the Catholic Church and child care institutions; it's a rally cry for the rest of us to hold our religious, legal and political authorities accountable."
~ Greg Barrett, Veteran Journalist and Author of The Gospel of Father Joe
"Bad girls go to hell!" (The Unbreakable Child, p. 24). So said Sister Charlie to three-year-old Kim, a "resident" at St. Thomas-St Vincent Orphan Asylum, situated in rural Anchorage, Kentucky. Kim didn't have to become a bad girl nor did she have to wait. She was already in hell.
The dissonance between the promises and preaching of the official Catholic Church and the horrors perpetrated against innocent children by some of its official representatives is far more than the average decent person can even imagine much less comprehend. Probably the worst experiences of these vicious and mind-bending horrors took place in orphanages founded and run by Catholic religious orders. Read the entire review at: http://theunbreakablechild.blogspot.com/2009/07/thomas-doyle-jcd-cadc-speaks-about.html
~ Thomas Doyle, J.C.D., C.A.D.C.
After reading The Unbreakable Child, I am heartsick at the horrific abuses you suffered. As a Sister, I am so very sorry that we did not "wear the face of God" for you. That is our deepest call, especially to the innocent and vulnerable. I grieve that it was on our watch and at our hands that you suffered, knowing that the suffering still impacts your life today and to some degree always will. Each of you is a precious child of God. Your experiences were so contrary to that message and to the Gospel. In that, you were failed miserably.
Thank you for your tremendous courage in coming forward and speaking the truth. In your suffering, you wear the face of God for us. I believe that until we (as individuals and as an institutional Church) see in your face the face of the Crucified Jesus and respond with compassion, integrity, and true repentance, healing and freedom will elude us.
I stand in solidarity with you in your pain and in hope with you as you heal."
~ Sister Ann-Marie Borgess, SND Toledo, Ohio
Download: The Unbreakable Child - Reviews
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