A personal account of sexual assault in the military, from the point of view of a cadet in the Air Force Academy.
Hall, a crisis counselor and survivor advocate, begins the book with the story of her turbulent childhood (absent biological father, mercurial mother, and another abusive father figure), the experience of which gave her the determination to make herself an astronaut. Along her path, she was sexually assaulted by not one, but three men, including an upperclassman who had already been accused of rape and infected her with herpes. Hall focuses largely on the aftermath of rape rather than the attacks themselves, and she provides a well-written account of the many injustices—not just sexual assault—suffered by women in the military: doctors who ignore symptoms and make no effort to treat illnesses, the fear of reporting both the assault and the illness, and the casual insults that reinforce shame and lack of self-worth. “The culture we lived in, particularly in the military, only reinforced the idea that we were to blame,” she writes. As she wrote, Hall was coming to terms with the extent of her trauma and inability to cope. In addition to wrestling with the countless difficult emotions that her experiences provoked, Hall opens a window onto sexual assault in general and the effect it has immediately and years, even decades, afterward. While it may not be the right read for everyone due to its unique point of view and profusion of self-blame, it will certainly enlighten those who overcome their discomfort long enough to understand that by taking readers along on her journey, Hall allows them to truly understand how victims internalize the worst accusations of the culture around them and the monumental effort needed to combat their own self-doubt.
A slow read in some places but worth it for a deeper understanding of an important issue.