Missoula...A review.

When an individual is raped in this country, more than 90 percent of the time the rapist gets away with the crime.

I usually end these reviews with a quote, but this one was significant enough that I needed to start with it. This number is so high for two reasons:

1. Because 80 percent of rapes are never brought to the attention of law enforcement.
2. The 20 percent of rapes that are reported are investigated with unbelievable bias. Victims and their families have to face incredibly frustrating components of our country's legal system every step of the way.

How do I know this? Because John Krakauer told me in this book. There was a highly publicized scandal at the University of Montana a few years ago. A reporter wrote stories of women on campus who were raped, mostly by football players. And Krakauer took these allegations and cases a step further, investigating each one in excruciating detail.

The point wasn't necessarily to find justice for any victims; it was a personal conviction. Through a friend, he realized how little he know about rape. He had no idea how difficult it was to prosecute rapists in our legal system (truthfully, I had no idea either). He had no idea how the longterm effects of rape were the same as some soldiers experience after facing combat. 

He presented staggering statistics about Missoula, the university, and rape. And then we find out that the statistics are that and worse for the rest of the country. This book was graphic, yes, but important and eye-opening too. And as always, I left with a profound respect for the writing Krakauer chooses to do.

Who is this book for?

Law enforcement officials: Yes. Although I could see how it would be frustrating to read from that perspective, with a intimate knowledge of how difficult these cases are.
Teens: Maybe not. It's graphic, for sure.
Journalists and writers: Absolutely. This is so impressive to me from a literary standpoint.

What does this book say?

...traumatized people find themselves reenacting some aspect of the trauma scene in disguised form, without realizing what they are doing....There is something uncanny about reenactments. Even when they are consciously chosen, they have a feeling of involuntariness. Freud named this recurrent intrusion of traumatic experience the"repetition compulsion."

...rather than being the nation's rape capital, Missoula had an incidence of sexual assault that was in fact slightly less than the national average. That's the real scandal.

Rape and war ... are among the most common causes of post-traumatic stress disorder, and survivors of sexual assault frequently exhibit behaviors as survivors of combat: flashbacks, insomnia, nightmares, hypervigilance, depression, isolation, suicidal thoughts, outbursts of anger, unrelenting anxiety, and an inability to shake the feeling that the world is spinning out of control.



ReadsRachel GreimanComment