TAKING BACK MY LIFE by Nancy with Larkin Warren Ziegenmeyer


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A rape victim's compelling story is combined here with a provocative examination of the issues raised by the crime from the perspectives of the victim, her husband, the counselor who treated her at a rape crisis center, the prosecutor and defense attorney in the case, and the newspaper editor who brought the story to national prominence. Early on the morning of November 19th, 1988, Ziegenmeyer, a 28-year-old wife and mother of three, was on her way to a local Des Moines school to take an exam for her real-estate license when she was assaulted in the school's parking lot and forced to drive her assailant to a secluded spot, where he raped her. The months that followed brought about Ziegenmeyer's transformation from a cringing, traumatized victim who had to have her husband walk with her to the bathroom in the middle of the night into an avid crusader for victims' rights. The trial of her assailant was postponed four times, to Ziegenmeyer's frustration, as his attorneys challenged the new technique of DNA identification in semen, the prosecution's main weapon in the case. Ziegenmeyer dealt with her rage and impatience by contacting the Des Moines Register; after the rapist's conviction, the newspaper's series thrust Ziegenmeyer into the spotlight of local and national attention. She was flown around the country to appear on talk shows, and she spoke at victims'-rights assemblies, lawyers' conventions, and, finally, before the US Senate. Ziegenmeyer comes across as a feisty, smart, ordinary woman, warts and all, who throughout her ordeal has retained the good sense of her Iowa farm upbringing. And coauthor Warren, a former Esquire editor, has done a fine job of interweaving the voices of the other principals in the case. Skip Eileen Ross's Savage Shadows (p. 1458) and look to this for insight into a rape victim's experience and the way she courageously used it to raise consciousness about this form of violence.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1992
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Summit/Simon & Schuster