A journalist’s harrowing account of how, over the course of more than three decades, she came to terms with an experience of rape.
On a July day in 1984, Connors, then a theater critic for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, was on the Case Western Reserve University campus. While looking for a playwright she had to interview, Connors came across a young man who raped her at knife point. In this book, the author revisits that episode and tells the story of how the event permanently changed her. To survive the rape and, later, police questioning and the physical examination that followed, she temporarily dissociated, becoming like a spectator watching “a girl in a play.” Even after police caught the rapist, David Williams, and sent him to prison, the ordeal continued. Her husband—who considered hiring a hit man to kill Williams—became the object of the rage she had felt about her situation. Connors developed a severe case of PTSD, which made her pathologically fearful for her safety as well as that of her two children. Williams died in 2000, 16 years after the incident; yet his death did not alleviate Connors’ suffering. Desperate to find the “narrative that would make sense of my rape and explain…what forces led us to that spot where we collided,” she began to investigate her rapist’s life. Through interviews with his family members and crime victims, Connors learned that Williams and his siblings grew up in a brutally dysfunctional household. Rather than see Williams as a monster for what he did, the author developed compassion for him, for his “tragic” family, and, most of all, for herself. Powerful and compelling, the book is a highly personal examination of the volatile intersection of race, poverty, and violence. The author insightfully reflects on the idea that the greatest monster anyone, including victims of violent crime, must face is the monster within.
A courageous and unsettlingly forthright memoir of overcoming trauma.