In this riveting memoir, Johnson (Trespasses, 2012) writes of falling prey to an act of terrifying violence and its aftermath.
In 2000, the author’s former boyfriend kidnapped her and held her captive, raped her and threatened her with death. Though she eventually escaped, it took years to free herself from the emotional and psychological damage she suffered. “Even what the mind forgets, the body remembers,” she writes. Written in an urgent first-person, present-tense voice, the narrative takes readers through the fear and rage as the writer lived it. Her painful memories, released in a nonlinear fashion, cut like shards of glass. It was 13 years after her abduction before she could get herself to go through the police report of her case. She read that the owner of the building where the crime took place was a friend of “The Man She Used To Live With” (perhaps for anonymity and to get some emotional distance, Johnson uses titles instead of names throughout the book) and would not reveal to the police where he had gone. The author also discovered that her attacker paid a student $100 to help him build the soundproof cell in which she was held. Later, she learned that her predator escaped to Venezuela, where he has family. Though she has lived in fear that he would contact her again, she writes, life went on. She got married, received a doctorate and had two children, and she has continued to fight depression, panic and emotional withdrawal. “I’m trapped on the other side of a wide, dark chasm,” she tells her husband. Writing the truth is her way to the other side. “This story tells me who I am. It gives me meaning,” she writes. “And I want to mean something so badly.”
Ferociously beautiful and courageous, Johnson’s intimate story sheds light on the perpetuation of violence against women.