A haunting collection of potent first-person narratives. Herself a rape victim, Pierce-Baker discloses the intimate details of her rape experience, along with those of ten other African-American women. Each of the accounts is singularly harrowing. While Pierce-Baker was raped and sodomized by two men who broke into her home and proceeded to burglarize it in the presence of her husband and son, other stories tell of rapes by relatives, acquaintances, and dates, as well as by strangers. Despite the wide variation in circumstances and ages (the youngest victim was four), certain recurrent responses emerge. The lives of rape victims are almost always thrust into havoc. Many of the women drop out of school or the work force, plunging into deep depression and avoiding social contact, especially with men. Sexual involvement, even with loving partners, is often shunned. As black females, many of the victims are unwilling to speak out against their black perpetrators; they don—t wish to further demonize the black man in a society deemed racist; as a result, the women feel powerless. And while many black women who do speak out don—t trust the judicial system to take them seriously, this is especially true in the case of women who have been raped by dates or acquaintances. Eighteen-year-old Grace, for example, who was raped by an acquaintance when she was fifteen, explains that she hesitated to share her experiences with anyone because she feared that "they would say it was my fault for not speaking up louder or for not kicking or punching him in the face." What does help each of the survivors, and particularly the author, is the act of disclosure. Sharing their stories is often the beginning of healing. Supplementing the women's narratives with the voices of five sympathetic black men, including her father and son, Pierce-Baker presents an honest and moving portrait of a painful subject too often closeted.
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