It is not a secret that I am a huge activist for sexual assault awareness. Everyone knows it. I talk about it, I post on Facebook about it…it’s a big part of my life. So of course, when the woman I babysit for read a book about rape, she handed it over to me when I was looking for something to read.
Now I am always very hesitant about reading books with rape in them. Sometimes, I worry that I will have an issue with how the author portrayed the story and the victim. I also worry about my own mental health. When I was in 8th grade, I tried to read a book about rape, and it is the only book I never finished. But, I decided to give this book a chance, and I am very glad I did.
This book was Lucky by Alice Sebold. I jumped right into it and didn’t really read the cover or the back. If I did, I would have found out that this was a memoir. She is the same author that wrote The Lovely Bones. Knowing that this was a memoir about when she was raped, was very eye-opening and I feel a lot of people could benefit from reading the story.
Sebold discusses her story of her rape. She discusses it from the day it happened ( the last day of her freshmen year of college) to the after effects. The reader goes along with Alice through the questioning, the looks from the classmates, and her attempts at trying to “feel normal” again.
This story can be extremely triggering, and frustrating, as you see the difficulty that Alice went through in her attempts to bring her assault to justice. I have always known how difficult the system makes it for survivors to get the justice they deserve, but I have never read in this much detail about the difficulties. The things that she went through…it was heartbreaking. Alice was one of the cases that decided to press charges. It also tells the story of a woman who decides to not press charges. It leaves us with the message that what happens after the rape needs to be completely up to the victim. They have had control taken away from them, so you need to give them control back. Let the victim decide what they want to do. Give them that voice.
After reading this story, I thought about how many people this story could benefit. It would open up so many eyes to so many aspects of handling rape. It answers the question “why do victims not report?” It answers the question of “what is it like to go through the process?” It demonstrates what it is like to be raped and all the after affects. It really shows that it is not something someone should “just get over.” It shows that people handle rape in many different ways. It also shows that those who have experienced assault are not alone.
I praise Alice Sebold for bringing her story to print. Many of us struggle with telling the details of our assaults, and here she is bringing her story into a book. It is extremely empowering to know that she Sebold had the courage to do that, that she did not let this stop her from becoming successful. Instead, she used it to fuel her success. Of course, some survivors do not wish to tell their stories, let alone in that manner, but if you do wish to tell your story, AVFTI gives a ground to do just that. And many of us that have told our story, understand the powerful effect that it has.
As I stated before, this book has many amazing messages, many many things that anyone could take away. But I think the most important is to note that what happens after the assault needs to be left up to the victim. It is their decision and it is important we give that to them.