When nine-year-old Tali Stark from the Bronx stops to give directions to “The Man” in a white limousine, she unwittingly puts herself on a trajectory to emotional and spiritual turmoil that will take her decades to rise above.

Blaming herself for the heinous crime that happened because she didn’t “go straight to school,” Tali is bound by invisible chains of secrecy, shame, and self-imposed isolation. Her harrowing and illuminating journey to recovery begins in her twenties with the support of her mentor, Dr. Daniel Benson, with whom she experiences deep love and then heartbreak. Feeling lost, Tali travels to Israel where Kabbalah sparks her spiritualism, and then to Africa where an arduous climb up Mount Kilimanjaro ignites a newfound feeling of empowerment. Only when Tali goes back to the Bronx and learns that her unreported crime scene has become the site of a rehabilitation center, does she understand that there is one more road to travel prior to reaching freedom.

Praise  for


“Debut author Stopler offers a novel, based on a true story, about one woman’s struggle to overcome a trauma from her childhood. Rooting for her is easy and watching her mature is endearing, making the novel as a whole a quite memorable experience. A realistic, touching account of a lengthy quest to move on.”



“Critical acclaim for this desperately needed type of love story. In my 40 years of work as a psychotherapist I often find myself advising patients to “treat themselves as if they were someone they loved.” The response I frequently get is “how?” Tracy Stopler provides the model, or the “how to” in The Ropes That Bind. The focus in her debut novel is adult recovery from childhood sexual abuse. However, the path braved by the main character, Tali Stark, is one that can be followed by all those who struggle with any potentially crippling traumatic life event at any age. Written in a novel/memoir style in the first person, the story catches you on the first page and doesn’t let go until the last sentence of the conclusion.”

Dr. Ted Horowitz, DSW, Doctor of Social Work


“Tali’s journey is so vividly described I felt I was there as her silent companion. Through her experiences, I frequently expressed a shocked gasp, a lighthearted laugh, and a calming sigh, as I too felt Mount Kilimanjaro’s wind on my face. Tali’s lifelong attempts to free herself from The Ropes That Bind and her reconciliation efforts are genuine and life-affirming.”

Anonymous, Male Survivor



“This heartbreaking story of the emotional scars of child sexual abuse has the most troublesome and painful beginning. But as this artful tale unravels, the narrator takes the difficult and necessary journey toward healing, through romantic relationships and her curative work as a registered dietitian. Tracy Stopler’s main character Tali Stark is memorable, and her story is narrated in the most compassionate way. The Ropes That Bind will leave you feeling inspired.”

Marie Carter, Author of The Trapeze Diaries



“When my former professor, Tracy Stopler, asked me to read her book, I assumed it was an educational book on nutrition. Wrong! Instead, it was an educational and inspirational book on life. I felt united with Tali Stark as I watched her transform. So much of what I read rang true for me as a young girl, a student, a lover, a professional and a survivor. This book is about discovering one’s best self despite all of life’s curveballs. To quote a line in the book, ‘Applause, applause, applause.’  

Survivor of Rape


“The Ropes That Bind will break your heart and then rebuild it better than it was before. Stopler’s moving story, one of transformation from childhood sexual abuse, reassures us that the human spirit is truly indestructible.”

Rabbi Todd Chizner


“Tracy Stopler’s The Ropes That Bind is a provoking novel of a young girl’s journey overcoming childhood sexual abuse. Once I started reading it, I could not put it down. Not only does Ms. Stopler portray the complexities of recovering one’s identity after a traumatic event, she skillfully delves into issues of spirituality, of finding and maintaining romantic relationships, and the lifelong quest of finding peace with herself and the world around her. A captivating, brilliant read that will leave you better educated about the survivors of childhood sexual abuse and what it means to feel alive. As a licensed social worker, I would highly recommend any survivor, male or female, to read this novel.”

Amy Angelone, LMSW, Enough Abuse Campaign Trainer



“Tracy Stopler is a gifted writer, who makes her narrator, Tali Stark, come alive with a unique, tender and brave voice. The beginning is hard to read, yet, riveting – a nightmare to any mother. The middle is inspirational and true to life. It took me a week to read the last twenty pages because I didn’t want it to end.”

S.D., Mother of Survivor


The Ropes That Bind is a painfully realistic account of the day-to-day life of a survivor. There is a true connection between the main character, Tali, and the reader, as the story genuinely reveals the struggles and triumphs that are part of living life. It is a beautiful story, giving a voice to those who have remained silent.”

Heather B. Gilmartin, LMSW


“It has been an honor to read and experience The Ropes That Bind. This inspiring novel is beautifully written – filled with vivid details. I was there in every scene and felt every emotion. I cried, I laughed, and I was upset. I connected with my inner child and with my source of Power and Creation. I meditated. I reflected. I saw things that I wasn’t aware of before. The most beautiful thing was observing Tali transform from a victim to a victorious, successful woman, bringing healing to others with her compassion and love. What an exciting ride it has been.”

Patricia J., Survivor


“’Nobody wants to revisit a war zone,’ yet in The Ropes That Bind, Tracy Stopler pays such a visit with the ultimate purpose of healing from the inner personal war of previously unspoken child sexual abuse. In doing so, the author has created a memorable story, a healing antidote, and a story filled with ‘the courage and strength to break free from the shame.’ This is a series of beautiful love stories… one of family, another of student/mentor, and most meaningfully, one of discovering love of self! Ms. Stopler has truly paved the way for all victims of life’s tragedies to become survivors – in fact, thrivers of life’s gifts. This book will touch your heart, break it wide open, and then place it back in your chest with added compassion, spirit and love.”  

Dr. Seena Russell Axel


The Ropes That Bind is absolutely riveting. It is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Not at all a sad tale but a powerful story of strength, resilience, and an unbreakable human spirit. Tracy Stopler masterfully paints a vivid picture of each character and every scene – a veritable wordsmith! Stopler’s style of writing is that of an articulate friend telling a fascinating story. As an emergency room advocate for victims of child sexual abuse and a trainer for the Enough Abuse Campaign, I was very pleased that such invaluable, accurate information regarding child sexual abuse was interwoven throughout the story.”

Keri Guarino, Child Victim Advocate, Enough Abuse Campaign Trainer



“The perfect title, The Ropes That Bind, was not lost on me, a survivor of childhood sex abuse. Tracy Stopler created an educational and inspirational page-turner that read like a memoir, horror, romance, self-help, action and adventure book all in one. This story will open your eyes to the terrible consequences of keeping secrets. You will cry, laugh, inhale and exhale as you discover a part of yourself in Tali Stark.”

Incest Survivor


The Ropes That Bind powerfully illustrates the destruction that accompanies the silence surrounding sexual abuse. Tracy Stopler bravely shares with us a story that unfortunately is far too familiar. In doing so, she offers unusual modalities of healing that can loosen the grip of damage for many, many victims of sex abuse.”

Dr. Amy Hammel Zabin, Music Therapist, Author of Conversation with a Pedophile: In the Interest of Our Children, Survivor


“Tracy Stopler has clearly put a lot of work into this book, and the sheer scope of the story – an entire life, really – is impressive. She is obviously a thoughtful and insightful writer.”

Amy Shearn, Author of The Mermaid of Brooklyn and How Far is the Ocean from Here


“Despite the title, The Ropes That Bind, this is a very inspirational story. I loved the main character, Tali Stark, and related to her in many ways. I experienced growth and emotion on every page. When she traveled to Israel, I questioned my own spirituality. When she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, I, too, was utterly exhausted. This book has changed me. I am more positive, more forgiving, and much more fearless.”

AnneMarie, Survivor


“This book is written by an author who has been there. Tracy Stopler brings Tali Stark to life on every page. I grew with Tali as she struggled with her demons. Sharing her tears of suffering and tears of joy. It felt like a real life journey from pain to peace.”

Diane C. Harvey, Family Violence Educator


The Ropes That Bind is very uplifting. I like Tracy Stopler’s use of Kabbalah and meditation as ways of coping with life. This book can help to break the silence of child sex abuse, start the difficult conversation, and allow healing to begin.”

Valeri Drach Weidmann, Coordinator of Circulation/Public Relations, Highland Park Public Library


“Before I opened this book, I poured myself some wine. I knew there were life lessons waiting for me, and Tracy Stopler did not disappoint. She created a real-life character, Tali Stark, who struggled with a real-life problem, living with the secrecy and shame of childhood sex abuse. She also created in me a sense of hope and a feeling I had never experienced before – forgiveness to my younger self. Because we are all survivors of something, every person can connect with Tali. So, pour yourself some wine, but don’t forget the tissues.”

J.S., Female Survivor


“Tracy Stopler’s The Ropes That Bind is an amazing and richly detailed book that I could not put down. The narrator, Tali Stark, like many of us, struggles to find a new normal while living with the shame of a childhood secret. It was breathtaking to watch Tali transform from a victim to a victor. This empowering story is definitely worth reading.”

Fabrizzia Vinhal


“This is a glorious, heartbreaking and triumphant story. Tali Stark is a realistic, inspiring protagonist who reminds us that although we all live with invisible antagonists, the ropes that bind, the Light is always there.”

Frances, 82-year-old Survivor


“This story is rich, compelling, enlightening and inspiring. Through the voice of her narrator, Tali Stark, Tracy Stopler uses her own life experiences and expertise as a registered dietitian to address how nutrition, exercise, loving relationships and spirituality play a role in healing both the mind and body. The Ropes That Bind will have you praying that our present epidemic of child sexual abuse can be treated and even prevented like our past epidemic of AIDS.”

Caryn Nistico, MS, RD, CDN


The Ropes That Bind is a meaningful story that follows the journey of a young girl into adulthood after experiencing child sexual abuse. Tracy Stopler gives voice to an issue people are uncomfortable discussing. She demonstrates the negative impact that child sexual abuse has on the main character, Tali Stark, but also enlightens us as to how someone can move from victim to healthy survivor. I applaud this work. It’s a wonderful story.”

Cynthia Scott, MA, Executive Director, The Safe Center, LI