The Anatomy of Silence
"Social justice activist Dougherty brings together a raw and profoundly introspective chorus of voices to break societal silence on sexual violence and to explore silence's meaning in a "larger culture of shame," domination, objectification, and judgment. Rarely are these stories about abuse by strangers; though there's a story about a subway masturbator and one about a party rape, most involve relatives, office superiors, and family friends, and repeated violations over the course of years. Many contributors have held their stories for decades, and their tellings express the impact of sexual violence over a lifetime. Common themes and experiences emerge regarding why victims keep silent: covering for one's abuser to protect one's own life, believing that the repercussions of telling would be greater than those of the abuse, fearing a loss of community and privacy, and seeing in other cases the renewed traumatization brought on by reporting's ineffectiveness. Although most contributors are women, male perspectives include those who have experienced abuse, those considering the impact of toxic masculinity, and those ready to end the practice of ignoring harmful behavior. When the writers point toward solutions, they are based in restorative justice; Esther Diplock's essay "Healing Silence" explicitly shows one way, Gender Equity and Reconciliation workshops. These deeply personal stories will make any empathetic person cry, rage, grieve, and sit in awe. (Mar.)"