The Hands That Held Me

Young Adult - Social Issues
282 Pages
Reviewed on 05/10/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

The Hands That Held Me is Lisa Jo Symonds' personal journey through childhood trauma - of abuse, child trafficking, addiction, overdose, and ultimately victory over all that meant to destroy her. She describes in shocking and honest details - the various types of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse she encountered while growing up. At 15 years old, she became pregnant and ran away, surviving among drug and prostitution-filled streets, doing what she had to in order to survive.
She survived a traumatic childhood, endured the challenges of being a single parent, overcame abusive relationships, and broke free from a lifetime of multiple addictions.

Lisa Jo Symonds began sharing her story through a series of powerful posts on Facebook in May of 2018 that extended over a 2-month period. Some of the actual posts are incorporated into The Hands That Held Me. As she exposed the horrific memories of her own childhood and publicly admitted to her addictions, other survivors, inspired by her story, began to tell their own story started their own journey of healing and recovery.. Learn more about the author on her website at

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

The Hands That Held Me is a dark and terrifying dive into the life of author Lisa Jo Symonds and her battles with addiction, abuse, pain, and suffering. From around the age of four, she had experienced the worst that this world has to offer a child; severe physical abuse from her father, plus sexual abuse from male relatives and family friends at home, and horrific bullying from her peers at school. There was nowhere safe for the little girl to go so she retreated into her own world inside her head, whilst these things were perpetrated upon her. Regularly drinking and smoking marijuana by the age of eight, the author was introduced to a lifestyle of using men for drugs and other necessities by her beloved second sister, so that by the age of thirteen, she was already addicted to the cocaine rush and a lifestyle of swapping her body for her daily needs. Pregnant by 15, she had already had three children by her twentieth birthday. In a life punctuated by long periods of sobriety and sham relationships with men who would continue to abuse her the same way everyone else had, the call of drugs, alcohol, and oblivion from the pain that they brought was never far away. It would take her own near-death to finally awaken her to the need to change the ingrained thought patterns that motivated her need for relief from drugs and alcohol.

The Hands That Held Me is a frighteningly honest account of a young woman’s life that was almost completely destroyed by those who were most required to protect her. By opening herself and her pain to the world, in this way Lisa Jo Symonds wants others - both addicts and family members of addicts - to understand the powerful forces that go on within these relationships. Her sole motivation these days is to help others escape their mental and emotional prisons earlier than the fifty years and immense pain it took her to do so. I was particularly struck by two aspects of the author’s experience. First, the power of Stockholm Syndrome applies to those who abuse and torment the people they supposedly love. I’m sure other readers will be stunned by the lengths Lisa Jo went to retain relationships with the people who had abused her so violently and selfishly and to convince herself that she desperately needed these people in her life, despite the suffering they caused her. Second, one couldn’t help but be brought to tears by Lisa’s plea for family and friends of addicts not to fully embrace the concept of “tough love”. If one thing stands out for me in this book, it is this: “You can’t undo death. You can’t take back that tough love after they are gone… the guilt you feel… will destroy you.” That was like a spear through my heart and resonated with me completely. This is a tough read. Although I appreciated the author’s way of dealing with the sexual abuse ensured, she didn’t have to spell it out for us; it is absolutely riveting reading. This should be a recommended read for any addict, abuse victim, and family of the same. The overriding message though should not be lost in the pain – there is hope. If Lisa Jo can survive all this, then there is hope.

Mary sondrini

This is a must read. Everyone who struggles in life with addiction can relate. I was always a religious person until I got myself in the drug life. It ruined me but I look to good still every day. Lisa Jo symonds that was one hell of an awesome book. You inspired me. I could relate a lot your book helped me see the light again and for that thank you. The hands that held me is truly inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time. Anyone who can should read this book. I'm sharing my copy for people to read. Hopefully it will inspired done of them to come see the light. I loved this book. Keep writing more please