Listening to the Stories of Sexual Violence Survivors
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The atrocity of sexual abuse as told by a captivating, diverse collective of survivors.

Ream is the founder of the Voices and Faces Project, an initiative that attributes faces and voices to the survivors of rape and sexual violence, often silenced by extreme trauma. A rape survivor herself, the author shares how painful memories were abated with focused work, feminist activism and rock music. Ream insists that vocalizing the ordeal (and truly being heard) became the best therapy not only for her, but for all of the people she interviewed. Divided into four sections, the book profiles individuals of varying age groups, races, sexes and backgrounds, many who were raped as children, each fortunate enough to enjoy rich, fulfilling lives after years spent processing their emotionally scarred pasts. Among them are a former New York assistant attorney general who, after years of childhood molestation, has spent his career defending sexual assault cases; lesbian novelist Dorothy Allison, whose experiences shaped her best-selling novel Bastard Out of Carolina; an effervescent nonagenarian who was raped by a carjacker at 82; and a woman who testified against her rapist, who, after being released on a shortened sentence, went on to commit murder. Ream also devotes a chapter to some revelatory time spent with an anti-violence collective on Prince Edward Island. The text’s often grim material is leavened by pleasant prose and a clear focus on the catharsis of survival. The concluding pages offer startling sexual violence statistics (“Globaly, 35 percent of women have experienced either non-partner sexual violence or intimate partner physical or sexual violence”), which form a significant coda to the life stories of these brave and resilient victims—all of whom “have been shaped, but refuse to be defined by, their histories of violence.”

A sad reality graced with hope, humanity and compassion.

Pub Date: April 15th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8070-3336-4
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Beacon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2014


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