My pen name is Tracey Cooper and I wrote the book, Jockey Daughter: I Do Not Have to Be Beaten to Cross the Finish Line.
As readers, you may not believe this, but my siblings and I do not feel like “victims” because today we have such wonderful and fulfilling lives. Our awful memories are those of our childhoods we left long ago. We refused to allow the happenings in our household to define us and for decades, until the publishing of my book, kept the secret of the abuse amongst ourselves. We have amazing children who are bright, ambitious, attractive and finding their own way through life’s courses. We cannot label ourselves as victims because so many others endured much more tactile and non-tactile harm. My head is bowed to them, not me.
I wrote the book while our mother was alive. People have been critical of this. I wrote the book because I was tired of not telling the truth in response to people asking me how my “wonderful mother was” or stating “please tell your lovely mother hello.” I was tired of lying. I was also going into my sixth decade and travelling a lot. As I was flying to foreign countries, I began to have nightmares thinking that my siblings would not be brave enough to crack this seal by speaking about the topic. With thoughts of my untimely death while travelling, I could only gasp at imagining our mother’s funeral wherein people who never resided in our home would stand at our Catholic Church pulpit and make pronouncements without any mention of her abuse towards us. I got sickened with the image.
The title of the book may lead the reader to believe that the physical and emotional abuse occurred at the hands of my father. It did not. Because my father had very long days at the race track- getting up at dawn to exercise the horses, dieting and “reducing” to maintain or lose weight to ride, and literally exhausted from the pace, the abuse was at the hands of our mother. She was brutal towards us and vindictive towards my father for having a stellar career which included adulation from fans during his thirty-eight-year career as a jockey.
We enjoyed significant standing in the community due to the excitement and popularity of horse racing at the time. Unfortunately, our home environment was nothing like the hoopla of the race track. It was the direct opposite. We experienced daily yelling, beating, unnecessary punishments and verbal abuse. Arriving home during our school days we knew that we would succumb to the predictability of the unpredictable- our mother’s anger and rage.
Our aging set each of us free and we ran out of the house by the time we turned eighteen years of age. One of my sisters attended medical school. Another, like myself, became an attorney. Thankfully my siblings forbid the cycle of abuse to continue. We never abused our children. We loved and cherished them and made sure that they crossed the finish line with tons of kisses.