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Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  565 ratings  ·  130 reviews
In this "compelling and disturbing" true story (Rebecca Traister), a young woman's toxic mentor develops a dark, stalking obsession that disrupts her career -- and her peace of mind.

Donna Freitas has lived two lives. In one life, she is a well-published author and respected scholar who has traveled around the country speaking about Title IX, consent, religion, and sex on c
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 13th 2019 by Little, Brown and Company
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Jul 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown &Company for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

This is the type of non fiction that can be really difficult to rate. The author, Donna Freitas is detailing the lengthy pursuit of a stalker during her grad school time at Georgetown University. This happened in the 90's and as Donna takes us through the increasingly difficult situation that she lived in, it becomes increasingly clear how far her pursuer will go. It's Donna's story and she's w
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"He wouldn't let up." -- page 140, the start of chapter 11

At the risk of sounding like 'virtue signaling,' Consent is the first book in awhile to really provoke anger in me. Although Freitas' blunt memoir details the disruptive experiences that have caused her much anguish, her undeniable skill as a writer - especially pages 160 to 163 (the hardcover edition), where she brilliantly describes the problems that women can or will face when reporting sexual harassment / stalking in the U.S. - make t
Anita Pomerantz
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Consent is a brilliantly rendered memoir authored by a woman, Donna Freitas, who dreamed of being a professor. Unfortunately, she encountered a huge hurdle to realizing her dreams when a professor, a priest no less, became obsessed with her.

Let’s just say that the most compelling part of this book is the complete candor with which it is written, but that is closely followed by the beautiful use of language. Parts of the story are poetically rendered; others have more of an academic cast, and so
Jenna Bookish
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
My thanks to Little, Brown and Company for sending me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher. 

Consent was a difficult read in some respects; it was difficult to see the author recount her trauma, but more than that, it was difficult to think about the excuses she internally made for her stalker before things escalated out of control. Most women have been there, with varying degrees of severity. (Maybe he does
Emerald Stacy
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While not a fun read, this book is incredibly powerful. The author finds her voice to speak her truth, including the self doubt that comes from long term gaslighting. Absolutely incredible.
Robert Sheard
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you need another memoir of sexual harassment to make you resent even more what university culture and the Catholic Church have done to women over the years, this is the one to get your blood boiling. You'll spend much of the second half of the book shaking your head in disbelief at what Freitas's graduate advisor (who was also a priest) did to her, how the university and the church enabled him, and how they cheated her out of the right to do anything about it.
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)

Many thanks to Little Brown for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Steff Pasciuti
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
| Reader Fox Blog |

Consent by Donna Freitas is a rough book to read. Detailing the account of a young woman pursuing a PhD in her early twenties as she is subjected to the unwanted attentions of a Professor in her program. It is a very personal story to the author and yet it is a story that, while some pieces are changed and some have come out worse than others, many women in the world have experienced at one point or another. Whether it is the case of a stalker, as with Donna Freitas or se
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Read this review and others on my blog:

Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention by Donna Freitas is Donna’s account of the stalking and unwanted attention she faced as a graduate in college.

Donna is a well-published author, a scholar, and knowledgeable in her field, of sex, religion, and consent on college campuses. She’s a sought after speaker and thrives in academia.

Donna is a doctor, a daughter, and a friend. But she’s also a victim.

As a college graduate, one of
This memoir is complicated for me to review. It tells a story of how the author's professor, who was also a priest, mentor and department chair, chose and stalked his prey, a young woman eager to learn. There were several insights about harassment and abuse that I gleaned from the book, and I've included those notes below. But the book was difficult to read in part because of the content but mostly because the author drags out parts of the story and spends pages discussing a minute part of the s ...more
Donna Hines
While I appreciate the fact this is an intelligent young woman who experienced what she deemed as 'unwanted' actions from a man I cannot understand the notion of still classifying oneself as a victim.
For those of us who lived through abuse as in my case with a malignant narcissist and with a MPA/CJ degree who was left for dead with three kids I can say the last word I'd use to describe myself is as a victim.
If you survive abuse you are a survivor.
While this shows how easy and quickly the actions
Meagan Houle
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Women’s tongues are dangerous when they let us keep them. Institutions, workplaces, companies have long known this, which is why they take them from us, why they require that we forfeit them, why they’ll pay us so much for them, these blood diamonds mined from our bodies."
I don't quite know what to say about "Consent," other than to say it is unlike any memoir I've ever read about womanhood, about academia, about power and trauma and the myriad ways we are all of us hopelessly trapped.
Christina Billhartz
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a testament to the voices of sexual harassment victims that are silenced every day!

Freitas was a bright-eyed PhD candidate at Georgetown who was inspired and passionate about her future as a professor when her life started to take a dark turn. Eager to get the most out of her studies, she frequently attended her professors' office hours to further engage with the material. Professor L., a Catholic priest whose stature at the university meant that he would play a major role in her di
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it.

A powerful memoir about a young woman's toxic relationship with her mentor, an acclaimed professor, whose dark, stalking obsession altered her future forever.

Donna Freitas has lived two lives. In one life, she is a well-published author and respected scholar who has travelled around the coun
Leanna Marie
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Donna Freitas is in graduate school, working towards her goals, while being stalked by her professor - who is also a priest.

This is a telling memoir that helps us to understand how innocently a bad situation can start and how fast it can spiral out of control. It's also gives us an in-depth look at how Donna, as a victim, felt and thought, and ultimately dug herself a deeper grave. She expertly explains how she ended up blaming herself for her professor's behavior and why she felt she couldn't
Rita Ciresi
If you are interested in getting even more depressed about the way that women are treated in academia--and if you can stand one more story about the failures of the Catholic Church to honor and defend its parishioners--this disturbing memoir is well worth reading.
This was a really difficult book to read and will be difficult to review. The author describes her experiences in graduate school where she was harassed and stalked by one of her professors. This professor, despite being an esteemed scholar, a department chair and a Catholic priest, took advantage of the author's naivety and relative innocence. She suffered in silence because he made her believe that it was all her fault.

This is an incredibly powerful and timely narrative. It has recently come t
Sonia Reppe
The stalker-Priest/Professor didn't get violent or sexual in his harassment; yet it's crazy how he just didn't get it. Most people get the hint when someone stops returning your calls and keeps refusing your invitations; when someone avoids you, it becomes apparent that you should move on. But this guy, and intellectual person so does not get it. Even when Donna started saying "no," over and over, he refused to hear the no, and accused her of "being a bad friend."

An added layer of complication
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a tough read. I read Donna Freitas' novel This Gorgeous Game, which is based upon the real-life experiences of the author, so when I saw she had written a memoir I had to read it.

Freitas' professor stalked her, and it is chilling to see the long-lasting effects that his behavior, and the subsequent institutional coverup, had on Freitas' future life and career prospects. While she is intentionally vague about the perpetrator to make him unidentifiable, it sounds like he was her department
Anne Marie
Oct 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I devoured this book in two days, could not put it down. It's a riveting, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking soul-sharing and manifesto, and no one could read it without feeling immense compassion for, and anger on behalf of, the author. It's clear that living this story, and telling it, required her to reach deep within herself and come to terms with both her weaknesses and her strengths. I deeply admire her honest self-analyses and commitment to educating and empowering other victims. HOWEVER......A ...more
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
A desperately lonely old guy is convinced that he can snag a young, attractive woman. We women have all encountered these delusional oldsters when we were in are early 20's right? I know I had to fight off an army of these grandpas back when I was young and attractive. The good thing is, when you get to be over 35, they're usually not interested anymore .😂

Maybe I come from a stronger, tougher stock of women, but saying "NO. I am NOT interested. Leave me alone", typically did the trick. Yes, you
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention” was unlike any other book I’ve read since it discussed stalking and how consent is viewed in society. I saw this one on bookstagram months ago and decided to pick it up! Donna Freitas is a beautiful writer and I loved her elaboration on different concepts such as Title IX and mandatory reporting. She relayed a view of mandatory reporting that I had never even thought of and it really made me take a step back and think. This book has a building feeling of ...more
Melissa McGowan
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating and thorough examination of her experience with her stalker and the many ways she internalized the trauma.
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 19-perhaps-now
A tour de force. This should be required reading for first year students in college and for everyone, really.
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Consent by Donna Frieitas is a must-read. In this case, the perpetrator was a professor, a teacher of the most eminent rank. With his social distinction, he taught Frieitas the meaning of how one moment of recollection leads to a recrudescence of the event and the pain that's associated with it.

At the opening of the book, when the professor continued to harry Frietas about opening the package and reading his essay, I knew this was getting to be a disturbing read.

Today, countless women are being
Trigger Warning!
Stalking and Harassment

Reading this was difficult in some ways. At many points I've actually held my breath in anticipation of what was gonna happen next. I can only imagine how Freitas must've felt through this whole ordeal. What was frustrating however was the amount of excuses she would make to make it seem like the behavior of her stalker was....normal? or out of concern?
Freitas was a grad student in D.C. She was really excited to start her journey for her Phd. She even enco
John Wood
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful account of the author's experience with unwanted attention from her mentor in grad school. It is very disturbing but informative on how insidious and harmful it can be when what seems to be harmless and even good at first can become life-shattering. The book shows how hard it can be for the victim to deal with this type of abuse and even how difficult it can be to share it with others and how difficult it can be to report it to authorities and know who you can trust. Since her ...more
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
An especially important read for academics, as it provides a clear and compelling account of what stalking and sexual intimidation often look like in academia, and we ignore this kind of pattern criminally often. An important read for any man, though--at least for me, every time I read a story of how a man exercised power over a woman, it helps me understand better how these kinds of things happen, and motivates me to help make sure they happen less.
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I can relate to being young and not really knowing what to do or how best to handle a situation like this. Once the stalking stopped and there was no contact for several years, I just didn't understand wanting to contact this weirdo priest for any reason at all.
Crystal Zavala
Jul 29, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: giveaways
So excited to win this on a Goodreads Giveaway! Review to come...
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Play Book Tag: Consent/Freitas - 5 stars 4 22 Jun 27, 2019 08:20PM  

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“But is there such a thing as trauma without shame? Isn’t shame an integral part of what causes an event or series of events to become a trauma?” 1 likes
“There is a liminal space created between the powerful person and the person who is the target of unwanted attention, a liminal space between outright yes and outright no. That space is not a compromise—not a maybe-yes or maybe-no—but more of a hovering, a being caught and not knowing where else to go or how to move without making things much worse. So you stay put. You hold the person off as best you can without causing them to retaliate too terribly, and because you know they can retaliate if they want to, that they have the power to do this, that they could decide to ruin you for displeasing them or rejecting them too forcefully. On the outside you continue to exist as though nothing is wrong, you perpetuate everything as though it is normal. You maintain the status quo with the abuser and with everyone around the abuser. Yet inside you are at war, you are shrinking, you are wishing you could die rather than continue much longer as though everything were fine. You become exhausted with the responsibility of making a situation okay that is not at all okay.” 1 likes
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