The acclaimed writer and campus lecturer shares a secret, revealing a story of stalking lurking just beneath her success.
In her latest, Freitas (Consent on Campus: A Manifesto, 2018, etc.) exposes the psychological havoc caused by her stalker and navigates the complex terrain of structural sexism and double standards involved with trusting in authority, academia, and the Catholic church. Silenced first by self-doubt and later by confidentiality agreements, the author provides a harrowing narrative of the detachment and disconnection often felt by harassment survivors. In her painstaking account, imbued throughout with alternating senses of self-awareness and -doubt, Freitas reviews her choices as if constantly scanning for fault or responsibility even as she unfolds the layers of lies that protected an influential professor. Her smooth storytelling skills translate this nightmare to the page with emotionally wrought insights. “If I named this thing it would stick to me, sink into me, become me,” she writes. “Not only would it rot me from the inside but now the rot would be visible. It would cling to me, mark me, become my scarlet letter.” Whether caught in a monster’s trap or the victim of a foolish old man’s misguided and inappropriate affections, Freitas manages to refrain from judgment without shielding her discomfort with either option. She discusses life after a trauma as a victim and survivor while delivering an unforgettable analysis of a devastating ordeal. As she interrogates womanhood, professional success, and expectations about protection when such behavior is reported, the author’s attention to the institutional response in light of current trends makes this an urgently vital perspective. Her excavations of victim-blaming and institution-protection actions are stark, and her sharing of this long-silenced story adds to the current social reckoning with unequal power dynamics on college campuses and elsewhere. A groundbreaking resource for educators, administrators, students, and survivors, the book explores an issue many would prefer to ignore.
A potent memoir of stalking with special resonance in the era of #MeToo.