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Whatever Gets You Through: Twelve Women on Life After Sexual Assault

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Personal stories of how women survive after the trauma of sexual assault. In the era of #MeToo, we've become better at talking about sexual assault. But sexual assault isn't limited to a single, terrible moment of violence: it stays with survivors, following them wherever they go. Through the voices of twelve diverse female writers, Whatever Gets You Through offers a power Personal stories of how women survive after the trauma of sexual assault. In the era of #MeToo, we've become better at talking about sexual assault. But sexual assault isn't limited to a single, terrible moment of violence: it stays with survivors, following them wherever they go. Through the voices of twelve diverse female writers, Whatever Gets You Through offers a powerful look at the narrative of sexual assault not covered by the headlines--the weeks, months, and years of survival and adaptation that women live through in its aftermath. With a foreword by Jessica Valenti, an extensive introduction by editors Stacey May Fowles and Jen Sookfong Lee, and contributions from acclaimed literary voices such as Alicia Elliott, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, Heather O'Neill, and Juliane Okot Bitek, the collection explores some of the many different forms that survival can take. From ice hockey to kink, boxing to tapestry-making, these striking personal essays address subjects as varied as the women who have lived them. With candor and insight, each writer shares her own unique experience of enduring: the everyday emotional pain and trauma, but also the incredible resilience and strength that can emerge in the aftermath of sexual assault.


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Personal stories of how women survive after the trauma of sexual assault. In the era of #MeToo, we've become better at talking about sexual assault. But sexual assault isn't limited to a single, terrible moment of violence: it stays with survivors, following them wherever they go. Through the voices of twelve diverse female writers, Whatever Gets You Through offers a power Personal stories of how women survive after the trauma of sexual assault. In the era of #MeToo, we've become better at talking about sexual assault. But sexual assault isn't limited to a single, terrible moment of violence: it stays with survivors, following them wherever they go. Through the voices of twelve diverse female writers, Whatever Gets You Through offers a powerful look at the narrative of sexual assault not covered by the headlines--the weeks, months, and years of survival and adaptation that women live through in its aftermath. With a foreword by Jessica Valenti, an extensive introduction by editors Stacey May Fowles and Jen Sookfong Lee, and contributions from acclaimed literary voices such as Alicia Elliott, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, Heather O'Neill, and Juliane Okot Bitek, the collection explores some of the many different forms that survival can take. From ice hockey to kink, boxing to tapestry-making, these striking personal essays address subjects as varied as the women who have lived them. With candor and insight, each writer shares her own unique experience of enduring: the everyday emotional pain and trauma, but also the incredible resilience and strength that can emerge in the aftermath of sexual assault.

30 review for Whatever Gets You Through: Twelve Women on Life After Sexual Assault

  1. 5 out of 5

    Angela Misri

    I opened this book with hesitation, as I'm sure many women did, knowing that the stories inside would reopen wounds, remind us of times and memories we'd rather not linger in, and make us newly sad for the humans suffering through their words. Instead, I found story after story of recovery, a path each woman has taken to "get through" to the other side. No one is cured, no miracle is achieved, but by sharing the diverse routes we must carve out in our own lives, through our own unique pain, it m I opened this book with hesitation, as I'm sure many women did, knowing that the stories inside would reopen wounds, remind us of times and memories we'd rather not linger in, and make us newly sad for the humans suffering through their words. Instead, I found story after story of recovery, a path each woman has taken to "get through" to the other side. No one is cured, no miracle is achieved, but by sharing the diverse routes we must carve out in our own lives, through our own unique pain, it makes this community whole together. There is no one way to get through. There is your way. #MeToo ladies, and thank you.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ai Miller

    This is just like a really incredible anthology--so many of the authors are so conscious of the world in which they're writing and living, and so resistant to the narratives of survivorship, and what that specifically means in this moment (2019, during #MeToo, etc.) So many of these essays are so good; I think my favorite is Gwen Benaway's essay, "Silence," but also Amber Dawn's "This (Traumatized, Kinky, Queer) Body Holds a Story," and "The Mother You Need" by Elisabeth de Mariaffi. By "good," This is just like a really incredible anthology--so many of the authors are so conscious of the world in which they're writing and living, and so resistant to the narratives of survivorship, and what that specifically means in this moment (2019, during #MeToo, etc.) So many of these essays are so good; I think my favorite is Gwen Benaway's essay, "Silence," but also Amber Dawn's "This (Traumatized, Kinky, Queer) Body Holds a Story," and "The Mother You Need" by Elisabeth de Mariaffi. By "good," of course I mean moved me in ways that shift beyond the kind of sympathetic pornotroping of a lot of representations of survivor narratives (not all; this text obviously owes a lot to the work of Dorothy Allison and others, and some essayists acknowledge that,) and pushed me intellectually and emotionally to think about what survival and living after sexual assault means.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Haley Howard

    Where to start... This book was hard to get through and I mean that in a good way. We read 12 women’s coping stories after sexual assault. That on its own is a huge statement. They don’t go to far into their own sexual assaults, but it really teaches you that there is no wrong or right way to cope. I was in total shock and had to lay the book down to breath. I read passages to my bf and his face was in utter shock that things like this happen EVERY day.

  4. 4 out of 5

    STEPHEN PLETKO

    XXXXX Navigating life after sexual assault XXXXX “[In this book} you’ll find [twelve] essays from [sexual assault] survivors who have rebuilt their lives around, and in spite of, that black hole of trauma…This book says there is a way forward, even if it’s not the prescribed or sanctioned one we’re used to… With bravery, honesty, and generosity, these writers are creating connections from the raw material of their own experiences and making the days, months, and years a little easier for those who r XXXXX Navigating life after sexual assault XXXXX “[In this book} you’ll find [twelve] essays from [sexual assault] survivors who have rebuilt their lives around, and in spite of, that black hole of trauma…This book says there is a way forward, even if it’s not the prescribed or sanctioned one we’re used to… With bravery, honesty, and generosity, these writers are creating connections from the raw material of their own experiences and making the days, months, and years a little easier for those who read their stories.” The above quote comes from this powerful anthology edited by Stacey May Fowles & Jen Sookfong Lee. Fowles and Lee are both writers. What exactly is sexual assault? It is an act in which a person intentionally sexually touches another person without that person’s consent or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will. It is a form of sexual violence. This book answers the following question: What does it mean to be a survivor of sexual assault? Using this question as their guide, each survivor (all writers) shares their own unique account of enduring their everyday emotional pain and trauma. Here is a good description (taken from one of the essays) of what psychological trauma can do to a person: “The trauma that results from terrifying life events over which we have no control is profound. It changes us in fundamental ways. The paralyzing helplessness of being trapped in a threatening situation results in a severe disruption of the nervous system. The extreme stress affects how the brain works and makes it difficult for survivors of traumatic events to regulate their everyday biological functions—sleeping, breathing, talking, [and] even eating. Psychological traumatic experiences are harmful to the body in ways that are belied by the fact that in some instances we can escape these events with no physical wounds. I had spent the better part of a decade bracing for what was [to come] next as the trauma had taken root within me expanded into a crushing anxiety that ultimately became impossible to ignore. My body, it seemed, was no longer my own, its recalcitrant movements reflexively attuned to events of the past.” This is a book of coping strategies, endurance, and perhaps most importantly, resilience. This book for me was somewhat emotionally difficult to read but it was worth it because it increased my understanding of the complexity of psychological trauma. Finally, at the end of the book is a list of the names of the survivors who wrote these essays along with comments of who exactly they are. What I did before I read a particular essay was to learn who the writer was of that essay. In conclusion, this is a searing anthology of testimonials from sexual assault survivors. (2019; foreword; introduction; 12 essays; contributors) XXXXX

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robert Pearson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Good. Tough read but necessary. There were a few factual errors (Bastard out of Carolina, the film, not "banned in Canada" though it was in three provinces. And, so far as i could find on google anyway, the "trans panic" murder defence has never been successfully argued in the US.)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Maddie

    This is the most important book I've ever read, and I don't expect another one to help me as much as this did anytime soon.

  7. 5 out of 5

    k leslie margaret

  8. 5 out of 5

    Erica Thompson

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caelie

  10. 4 out of 5

    Parker Rogers

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lanika

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bethany Buchanan

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sonya

  14. 4 out of 5

    A. H. Reaume

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hanna Yost

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alexa

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebs

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dulce

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lydia

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dina Bucchia

  24. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Lucas

  25. 5 out of 5

    Em

  26. 4 out of 5

    Serina Spencer

  27. 4 out of 5

    Annalisa Rielly

  28. 4 out of 5

    Steph

  29. 4 out of 5

    Flungoutofspace

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gina

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