"Silence has the rusty taste of shame. The words shut up are the most terrible words I know. . . . The man who raped me spat these words out over and over during the hours of my attack--when I screamed, when I tried to talk him out of what he was doing, when I protested. It seemed to me that for seven years--until at last I spoke--these words had sunk into my soul and become prophecy. And it seems to me now that these words, the brutish message of tyrants, preserve the darkness that still covers this pervasive crime. The real shame, as I have learned, is to consent to them."
After Silence is Nancy Venable Raine's eloquent, profoundly moving response to her rapist's command to "shut up," a command that is so often echoed by society and internalized by rape victims. Beginning with her assault by a stranger in her home in 1985, Raine's riveting narrative of the ten-year aftermath of her rape brings to light the truth that survivors of traumatic experiences know--a trauma does not end when you find yourself alive.
Just as devastating as the rape itself was the silence that shrouded it, a silence born of her own feelings of shame as well as the incomprehension of others. Raine gives shape, form, and voice to the "unspeakable" and exposes the misconceptions and cruelties that surround this prevalent though hidden crime. With formidable power and in intimate detail, she probes the long-term psychological and physiological aftereffects of rape, its tangled sexual confusions, the treatment of rape by the media and the legal and medical professions, and contemporary cultural views of victimhood.
For anyone, female or male, who has suffered from or witnessed the shattering effects of rape, After Silence inspires and points the way to healing. This landmark book is a stunning literary achievement that is a testimony to the power of language to transform the worst sort of violation and suffering into meaning and into art.
On October 11, 1992--the seventh anniversary of her rape--Raine determined that she would write about her assault and recovery. Six years of reflection and wide-ranging research served this talented writer well, for her account, studded with references to everything from Greek myths to government statistics, is fascinating and surprisingly readable. Raine describes the rape itself with remarkable objectivity. Then she describes the many small steps that she, like so many other rape victims, took to cope with the shame and ruptured faith that were the cruel legacy of her attack. After a period of relative isolation, followed by a stretch of believing she had "gotten over it," Raine was hit with intense depression. But the psychotherapy she underwent at the time--combined presumably with the writing of this book--helped bring her at last to a place where she can voice the pain of her experience, even if she can't erase it. Skillfully interwoven into this narrative are insightful digressions into, for example, the neurological underpinnings of post-traumatic stress disorder and the psychology behind that powerful emotion, shame. Neither self-pitying nor shrill, Raine has achieved an impressive balance between a starkly candid memoir of personal trauma and an ingenious literary discussion of an all-too-often unspeakable crime.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A Brave Author
After Silence: Rape and My Journey Back by Nancy Venable Raine is a memoir that is well-written and emotionally charged. In the introduction, the author says that the police told her that she “was lucky not to have been murdered.” That is how horrible it is to be raped: it is a crime so heinous as to be associated with murder. However, the author did not feel lucky. She felt alone, especially since rape is shrouded in silence, shame, and stigma.
It’s the victim that carries those negative feelings, and Raine explains the emotional capacity of a rape victim in heart wrenching detail. Fear is the most obvious, superseding other feelings no matter the occasion. Fear and the fear of fear rises, taking up a permanent place in the psyche that did not exist before the rape. Raine develops a “before” identity and an “after” identity, and can never get back to the woman who had not been raped.
Throughout this thought-provoking book, Raine weaves commentary about society by using a variety of references, such as fiction and its treatment of rape scenes as well as literature from psychology. She writes about PTSD, quoting Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery extensively. Raine explains, “For traumatic experience, ‘forgetting’ is impossible, yet ‘remembering’ s the last thing you want to do.” Her exploration into her self is painful, yet anyone who reads this will benefit from her insight and intelligence.
Review completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story