After Silence: Rape and My Journey Back, by Nancy Venable Raine.

I just finished reading After Silence. I’d borrowed it from a friend and I confess I put off reading it because it looked difficult. It was, but it was thought-provoking and important, too.

Raine begins with the story of her rape, which was a stranger-rape that happened when she was at home. I didn’t ever read all of this graphic chapter, but I read the rest of the book.

Two things are vital about After Silence: Raine’s descriptions of the many effects on her life, and the way she details the process of silencing. Society does not want rape (or child abuse) victims to tell their stories. Friends ask them to “get over it,” or “not carry it around” — as if someone who suffers an experience like that can just shed it like a wool coat and walk around being “normal.”

Shortly after Raine published an account of her rape in the New York Times Magazine, she attended an up-scale dinner. A woman complimented her on her writing but then said, “But let’s face it, no one wants to hear such terrible things.” Raine bravely describes how this remark stopped her for weeks — her writing ground to a halt, her confidence lost. Instance after instance from her own life and from the press all show how strongly, even violently, people shy away from knowing about “such terrible things.”

For those of us who have survived terrible things, it’s all the more important to get our stories out there to let society know that we are here and we are not going to fade out quietly.

No comments: