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After Silence: Rape & My Journey Back
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2000
Nancy Raine's After Silence, her firsthand account of her rape and her life after the rape, is compelling, illuminating, and essential reading. Brutally honest, Nancy shares her private story of surviving and recovering from rape.
Raine helps her readers understand the severe and often lifelong psychological consequences of being victimized, the ambivalent reactions of other people to rape survivors, and the personal anguish in recovering from being raped. Raine elucidates her feelings of helplessness and terror during the rape, her treatment by the legal and medical system, other people's reactions to her rape, and her social and emotional isolation after the rape. She leads us through her coming to terms with the rape, with the new person she feels she becomes, with other people's reactions, and with her post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. Through Raine's words, we watch a severely traumatized woman learn to regain control of her life and learn to trust and love again.
Raine's book raises many important questions: Why the shame of being a victim of rape? Why is the victim blamed? Why do some people still think that rape is "assault with a friendly weapon?" Why people's ambivalent reactions to rape? Why the silence?
Raine decided to end the silence about rape by bravely sharing her story with the world. Why should she be ashamed? She is the victim; she did nothing wrong. She purposely and insistently breaks the taboos about rape to try to pave the path for rape victims to speak out about this abominable and prevalent crime.
There were an estimated 9 million women raped in the United States alone between 1972 and 1991. In the United States, a woman is raped every two minutes; eighty-three percent of women with disabilities will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime; only twenty-six percent of rapes are reported to the police. Over fifty percent of rape survivors suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which can include the reexperiencing of the attack through nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and flashbacks; the avoidance of thoughts, feelings, places, and activities associated with the rape; difficulty concentrating; mood swings; and a diminished interest in former activities. These are just a few of the many terrifying and eye-opening statistics about the prevalence and seriousness of rape (in this country alone!)
Books like After Silence are necessary to combat the public's denial and apathy about the pervasiveness and seriousness of sexual crimes on women. After Silence can also help rape survivors understand that they are not alone and that their reactions to being raped are "normal." The general public should read the book so they can better understand the experience of being raped and life after rape. Hopefully the public and the legal system will learn to more supportive to rape survivors and more committed to ending (sexual) violence against women.
Reviewed by Vanessa Jackson
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2000
This book was fantastic. Not only did he help me understand what I am going through, but it also helped my fiance. I just can't explain some of my thoughts and feelings to him and by him reading them in the book and asking me if I felt or did not feel the same it helped us to talk about it and this helps me a lot beacuse it is hard for me to talk about --- not just with him but in general. Raine helps the reader to realize they are not so alone. I had read several books and seen many movies about rape before my rape, but I still feel so alone sometimes. Raine made me realize that this is normal and will probably be my normal for a long time. I HIGHLY recommend this book to all survivors --- and possibly their loved ones if they feel comfortable sharing the feelings this book will reveal.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 16, 2010
All of the other reviews are true: this is a classic, well-written book on the topic of rape. But there needs to be a much clearer advisement for potential readers that this book is VERY graphic and disturbing. I observed that some victim/survivors who read it began to have nightmares and panic attacks again, after long periods of remission, which they attributed to the content of "After Silence." Out of consideration for readers, such concerns should be noted. If you are not subject to traumatic responses to extreme rape content, then you'll have an easier time with this book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2003
I read this book shortly after my own personal attack and rape and I have to say, it got me through some of the worst times.
This books tells you a story of a woman whose right to her body is taken away, and the horrible aftermath it leaves. But it also leaves you feeling connected through similiar experiences, and educates you about common misconceptions and falsities in rape statistics and information. Reading this book helped me feel less alone, and also gave me information to empower me to try to go out and help fight the terror that is violence and rape against women, or anyone for that matter.
Rape survivors and non-rape survivors alike should read this book. It's gripping, heartwrenching, and will certainly open your eyes, as well as your heart. You're definitely not the same after having read this book. Incredible.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
An exceptional book on a very difficult subject. Ms. Raine captures many of the issues and concerns that rape victims must face. Most importantly, as a victim of rape she captures the emotional turmoil that surrounds all aspects of this life changing experience. As a rape victim I felt and went through many of those same experiences. I serve as a major in the US Army and I recently published "Ultimate Power Enemy Within the Ranks". I was raped 6 years ago by my Battalion Commander. The process that I went through was brutal. Recovery ... years ... continues.
During speaking engagements I encourage others to read "After Silence: Rape and My Journey Back". It serves as a useful tool for others and for victims to learn about and understand the process that women go through as they recover from rape. The most horrible aspect of being a rape victim is that you do not understand the what or why of what is happening as you struggle to recover. I believe that the education of others on that process will help victims, families, friends, and those in the work place deal with this very difficult issue and make the recovery process for the victim less painful. "After Silence ... does that and more.
I admire Ms. Raine for her courage and determination to make a difference. To say "Thank You" is not enough for her contribution to our communities in writning this book. It should be required reading in every high school.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2006
"Throw away the lights, the definitions
And say of what you see in the dark" - Wallace Stevens

"Speech is civilization itself. The word . . . preserves contact - it is silence which isolates." - Thomas Mann

Following her rape, this author became a completely different person, a person who lived "with sudden fear the way others live with cancer. The fear was always there." It took seven years before she could begin writing about her experience. She states that the anniversary of her rape "was more significant than my own birthday, and yet there was only silence . . . I had become, the one who marked her anniversaries in silence . . . Could I celebrate my survival in silence and alone? Not according to Webster's, which defines the verb "to celebrate" this way: "to perform (a sacrament or solemn ceremony) publicly and with appropriate rites" . . . It pained my family and friends to remember. To acknowledge my experience might bring up what they hoped I had forgotten . . . for me to remind them that I had not forgotten seemed unkind, even cruel, because I knew they needed to believe I had. Our rite was, therefore, silence."

"I thought about Wittgenstein's observation that the limits of language are the limits of reality. Was rape off limits to our most distinctly human attribute - language? . . . I could no longer consent to silence."

Another friend and rape victim asked her, "How do I tell people who don't know, people who might become close friends? If I don't tell them, it makes it a secret, like something to be ashamed of. When I do tell them, they make it worse. They never ask me about it. It'a a part of me, part of who I am now, but they don't want to know about it. It's no-win. Just no-win."

"But silence has the rusty taste of shame. The words 'shut up' are the most terrible words I know. I cannot hear them without feeling cold to the bone. The man who raped me spat those 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 . . . The real shame, as I have learned, is to consent to them."

So she wrote an essay "Returns of the Day" in The New York Times Magazine in 1994. In response "Without exception, all of the letters from survivors described the isolation of the aftermath of rape, its life-altering transfromations."

"The victims of rape must carry their memories with them for the rest of their lives. They must not also carry the burden of silence and shame."

If you have friend or family member dealing with these issues (and the odds are that you do), here are other books that are also excellent on this and related topics, "Lucky" & "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold, & "Siolence" edited by Susan McMaster - all written by women. Rape victims and victims of relationship violence and abuse often hide their experiences and the behaviors of their abusers, feeling ashamed for even being involved with the abusive patterns. All of these books suggest women become more free and mentally at ease when they realize there is nothing to be ashamed of about being victimized. And they suggest the causes of our silences and the things we hide probably deserve more attention, new perspectives, and reconsideration.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2007
A friend loaned this book to me but it is likely a book I will never forget. Nancy Venable Raine tells her important story in a very accessible way. As a nurse who took care of rape victims in the middle 80's and now a school nurse, I am aware that the secret of abuse and assault reverberates in too many lives. And while I would never say that my experiences as a young nurse were equivalent to those of my patients, I vividly remember hearing my victim-patients stories and identifying with them. Many of my victim-patients were not that different from me--young, single, living alone. During that time, I _usually_ slept with the lights on because I wanted to try to be able to identify my perpetrator, if that ever happened to me.

Raine shows us her story, how it echoes in her life. Coming back from and integrating the experience in life is not, cannot be easy but one cannot help but feel she is one of the minority of individuals who gets the needed help to do so.

Now, in year 2007, I was acutely aware that at times Raine paired the rape experience and the torture experience. It is a source of sadness to me that we, as a nation, are perpetuating that experience for so many. There is something profound about her description of the rape victim as a container for her perpetrator's anger. And that is far from the only profound idea.

Having also read "Lucky" by Alice Sebold, I would say they are both very important books but this book is a far better glimpse into the recovery aspect.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Line after line of words in this book have struck chords in my heart. Yes, yes...resounding agreement rocks my psyche because I identify with most everything written here and, finally, I am starting to understand myself a bit better. I am also a writer hopelessly choking on the right words now. I have no idea how to put my experience on paper, hardly a clue as to why I feel so awful at times, so depressed, so anxious. Nancy Venable Raine has written the most valuable book for survivors to date and has aided my own recovery immensely. The icing on the cake now would be to meet her, look her in the eye, and say THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU. This is a tremendous book, worthy of nothing less than the Pulitzer....
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2005
Ms. Raine describes the trauma and recovery of rape in clear and helpful terms and I appreciate the references to other works about rape recovery and feminism. Raine's AFTER SILENCE inspired me to read another landmark TRAUMA AND RECOVERY by Judith Herman, MD. It is hard to find books about rape recovery and people who can and will talk calmly, rationally, compassionately (or at all) about this subject. Raine's AFTER SILENCE should be required reading in high school for both boys and girls! Rape is so widespread that it should be addressed more often by family and friends; local, state, national, and world leaders; educators and news media. Raine also references I NEVER CALLED IT RAPE by Robin Morgan, another excellent source for raising awareness of the frequency and extent of rape in society. My own childhood incest and young adult rape were not known to my parents, siblings and doctors for decades even though the symptoms were so obvious that I was hospitalized for months. Can't praise Raine's work enough. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to Raine and all those who made her work possible. Healing may be slow in coming, but it does come, after the silence, with the help of authors like Raine.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2000
I'm sure there are many women like myself that have remained silent. It is not your fault, but you repress your emotions. Maybe you feel ashamed, dirty inside, afraid, have a low sense of self-worth or think that's life. Time does not heal, nor forget. While the perpetrators of this violent act may walk free of the judical system, know that it is not for you to do their time. I have found the courage to recognize how psychologically this has touched aspects of my life. Help yourself and feel all the emotions you need to and release them. Confide in someone you trust, seek professional help, journal or read about other women's experiences. Free yourself of the chains that bind and choose not to be a victim. It'll be okay.
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