Notes on a Silencing

Little, Brown. Jul. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9780316491556. $28. MEMOIR
Crawford (Hold Still) explores the effects of sexual assault with visceral force and honesty. After her private boarding school came under investigation for sexual assaults on campus, she came forward with her experience, which occurred decades earlier. Crawford works through complex theoretical issues related to gender, class, and privilege as they intersect with trauma, shame, and silencing. This provides a kind of bridge between issues raised by the #metoo movement and the nuances of sexual assault case investigations with its powerful emphasis on what Crawford describes as the “near impossibility of telling what happened in a way that discharges its power.” While the memoir itself is beautifully written, the book also provides a very real corrective to the oversimplification we often make when we think that telling a story, bringing a case to trial, or “winning” in some public way is enough to restore what has been taken from a survivor of sexual assault.
VERDICT This brave, brilliant memoir reveals the multifaceted effects of trauma on a survivor’s life, the damage done by some of the ways in which disclosures happen, and the power of finding a voice on one’s own terms, if and when one feels supported, sustained, and able to speak.
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