TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND ASSAULT MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE. These books also include descriptions of sexual violence cases and may be triggering to survivors. Please take caution when reading both this article and these novels.
Sexual Violence is a topic that is kind of taboo to talk about because of all the societal beliefs on what it looks like, and this isn’t the reality of it at all. As someone who is very interested in the research on sexual violence, I have been reading books to help further my understanding of the different experiences of survivors. I wanted to share my list with our readers, as it might help address some of the questions you have about it.
- Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture–and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding
Kate Harding uses her voice as an author to describe different cases of sexual violence and how justice could have been served. She also explains how you can educate yourself to be a better ally to victims and survivors of sexual violence. This was one of my favourite reads as it helped me to jump into my work in the sexual violence field by educating me with facts that I would have never thought of looking into if it wasn’t for my interest in this work.
- My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
This is a fiction book that addresses how post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects victims and survivors differently. Russell uses flashbacks to explain the sexual violence our protagonist, Vanessa, endures which was very interesting since you get to see the conflict she combats against. I simply could not put this book down once I bought it; it is an amazing read and it does such a good job of explaining sexual violence from a survivor’s point of view.
- Putting Trials on Trial: Sexual Assault and the Failure of the Legal Profession by Elaine Craig
This book addresses the legal system in Canada and some of the horrible things that judges have said to victims and survivors of sexual assault. It addresses the importance of sexual violence research and preventative work, and how the justice system fails to support survivors in positive ways. I loved this book because it helped me understand how prevalent rape myths are and how society continues to blame victims for what has happened to them (I believe you, and it’s not your fault!)
- What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Sohaila Abdulali
Abdulali shares her story of being gang-raped as a 17-year old woman, and she questions our society and its current understanding of sexual violence. I loved this book because the author also discusses how we can listen and support survivors to further heal our community, while also trying to prevent sexual violence by challenging our current beliefs about it.
- Wrecked by Maria Padia
This is another fiction book written about a sexual violence case that happened on a university campus, and it explains how the story of a perpetrator will contradict that of a survivor in order to redeem their reputation. It also represents how witnesses are brought into cases to evaluate the story accurately, which also allows confusion to play a part in the investigation in the first place. I loved this book because I found it interesting to understand how investigations of sexual violence are typically handled, which is partly to explain why survivors don’t really report in the first place
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence and would like support, please contact the University of Windsor’s Sexual Misconduct Reponse and Prevention Office at [email protected] or visit the Windsor Sexual Assault Crisis Centre Website: https://saccwindsor.net/