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365 pages, Paperback
First published September 24, 2019
My dream is to write children's books. I felt no parent is going to want me as a role model if I'm just the discarded, drunk, half-naked body behind a dumpster.
‘my pain was never more valuable than his potential.’this sentence should NEVER be someones reality. and the grace with which chanel copes with and elegantly narrates such an unfathomable trauma is truly inspiring. it shows us that we must do better, we must be better, in a society that so corruptly mistreats survivors of sexual assault.
"Victims exist in a society that tells us our purpose is to be an inspiring story. But sometimes the best we can do is tell you we’re still here, and that should be enough. Denying darkness does not bring anyone closer to the light. When you hear a story about rape, all the graphic and unsettling details, resist the instinct to turn away; instead look closer, because beneath the gore and the police reports is a whole, beautiful person, looking for ways to be in the world again."
“Most of us understand that your future is not promised to you. It is constructed day by day, through the choices you make. Your future is earned, little by little, through hard work and action. If you don’t act accordingly, that dream dissolves.”
“Cosby, 60. Weinstein, 87. Nassar, 169. The news used phrases like avalanche of accusations, tsunami of stories, sea change. The metaphors were correct in that they were catastrophic, devastating. But it was wrong to compare them to natural disasters, for they were not natural at all, solely man-made. Call it a tsunami, but do not lose sight of the fact that each life is a single drop, how many drops it took to make a single wave. The loss is incomprehensible, staggering, maddening—we should have caught it when it was no more than a drip. Instead society is flooded with survivors coming forward, dozens for every man, just so that one day, in his old age, he might feel a taste of what it was like for them all along.”
I always wondered why survivors understood other survivors so well. Why, even if the details of our attacks vary, survivors can lock eyes and get it without having to explain. Perhaps it is not the particulars of the assault itself that we have in common, but the moment after; the first time you are left alone. [...] This moment is not pain, not hysteria, not crying. It is your insides turning to cold stones. It is utter confusion paired with knowing. Gone is the luxury of growing up slowly. So begins the brutal awakening.
I didn't know that money could make the cell doors swing open. I didn't know that if a woman was drunk when the violence occurred, she wouldn't be taken seriously. I didn't know that if he was drunk when the violence occurred, people would offer him sympathy. I didn't know that my loss of memory would become his opportunity. I didn't know that being a victim was synonymous with not being believed.
They seemed angry that I'd made myself vulnerable, more than the fact that he'd acted on my vulnerability. Drinking is not inherently immoral: a night of heavy drinking calls for Advil and water. But being drunk and raped seemed to call for condemnation.
They seemed angry that I’d made myself vulnerable, more than the fact that he’d acted on my vulnerability.
The judge had given Brock something that would never be extended to me: empathy. My pain was never more valuable than his potential.
There was another line of argument that nagged at me: the suggestion that boys simply could not help themselves...
I understand you are not supposed to walk into a lion’s den because you could be mauled. But lions are wild animals. And boys are people, they have minds, live in a society with laws. Groping others was not a natural reflex, biologically built in. It was a cognitive action they were capable of controlling...
Their behavior was the constant, while we were the variable expected to change.
I encourage you to sit in that garden, but when you do, close your eyes, and I’ll tell you about the real garden, the sacred place. Ninety feet away from where you sit there is a spot, where Brock’s knees hit the dirt, where the Swedes tackled him to the ground, yelling, What the fuck are you doing? Do you think this is okay? Put their words on a plaque. Mark that spot, because in my mind I’ve erected a monument. The place to be remembered is not where I was assaulted, but where he fell, where I was saved, where two men declared stop, no more, not here, not now, not ever.
This book is for everyone.
‘This is an attempt to transform the hurt inside myself, to confront a past, and find a way to live with and incorporate these memories. I want to leave them behind so I can move forward. In not naming them, I finally name myself.
My name is Chanel.’
‘I didn’t know this little yes would reopen my body, would rub the cuts raw, would pry my legs open for the public. […] My three-letter word that morning unlocked a future, one in which I would become twenty-three and twenty-four and twenty-five and twenty-six before the case would be closed. [...] The saddest things about these cases, beyond the crimes themselves, are the degrading things the victim begins to believe about her being. [...] They seemed angry that I’d made myself vulnerable, more than the fact that he’d acted on my vulnerability. Drinking is not inherently immoral: a night of heavy drinking calls for Advil and water. But being drunk and raped seemed to call for condemnation. People were confounded that I had failed to protect myself. [...] When a victim does go for help, she is seen as attacking the assailant. These are separate; seeking aid is her primary motive, his fallout is a secondary effect. But we are taught if you speak, something bad happens to him. You will be blamed for every job he doesn’t get, every game he doesn’t play.’
‘What if you’re assaulted and you didn’t already belong to a male? Was having a boyfriend the only way to have your autonomy respected? [...] Women have been trained to notice micromovements, to scan and anticipate all subsequent action, constantly measuring how far threating words are from realities. We are tasked with defending ourselves in every imaginable scenario, planning escape routes, walking with keys between knuckles, a natural instinct in our day-to-day routine.’