WITHIN A DARK WOOD: The Personal Story of a Rape Victim by Jennifer Barr

WITHIN A DARK WOOD: The Personal Story of a Rape Victim

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That rape could have widespread psychological ramifications seems reasonable enough; that it could color every action and attitude for several years, as chronicled here in the narrative and journal excerpts of a victim, seems incredible. Despite solid support from husband, pastor, friends, therapist, Rape Crisis Center, etc., Jennifer Bart seems to have gone completely to pieces after her assault by a stranger in a secluded woods; her personal hell is funneled through as anger, inappropriate guilt, paranoia, and heavy sarcasm: ""Why,"" she says, should I expect my mother ""to remember something so trite as a trial when my brother's wife was going to have a baby?"" It is a mark of her obsession with introspective processes that she never describes the occurrence or its aftermath fully in terms of such externals as time and place. There is some confusion as to whether her ordeal was technically rape, so when the accused is finally caught and tried (twice), he is convicted of a lesser crime; the resulting raped-first-by-the-guy-and-then-by-the-courts tantrum seems more petulant than powerful. After all, if the author handles all the righteousness and self-pity, what is there for the reader to add? Barr eventually claims mastery; she is more assertive, takes charge of her interests, and plays the game to ""win"" rather than simply deferring to timeworn ideals such as justice. A tortured and, one suspects, somewhat hollow victory.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday