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I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor's Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope Audio CD – CD, March 6, 2018
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"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
For the first time in paperback, from Dean Koontz, the master of suspense, comes an epic thriller about a terrifying killer and the singular compassion it will take to defeat him. | Learn more
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About the Author
Jenn Abelson is an investigative reporter for The Washington Post. Before joining The Washington Post, she worked as a journalist for The Boston Globe Spotlight Team. Her investigations have exposed sexual assault at prep schools, doctors secretly performing two surgeries at the same time, and the widespread mislabeling of fish in the restaurant industry. In 2015, she was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her work on “Shadow Campus,” a series about dangerous off-campus college housing. Jenn grew up in New York, attended Cornell University, and lives in Washington, DC.
- Grade Level : 9 - 12
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- ISBN-10 : 1508249105
- ISBN-13 : 978-1508249108
- Product Dimensions : 5.06 x 0.8 x 5.75 inches
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster Audio; Unabridged Edition (March 6, 2018)
- Reading level : 14 and up
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,014,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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To lay the foundation of her story, Chessy starts a few years before the assault when her family is still living in Japan. It gives insight into her life and family dynamics.
Chessy's assault occurs at an elite boarding school and I will admit that when she started to describe the environment and lifestyle of the students I thought; I cannot relate to this at all & I don't think it will resonate with my students. There were also parts in the story where I thought to myself; you shouldn't be doing that, it will lead to trouble or send the wrong message. It is hard to admit that I would have those thoughts despite my ardent support of sexual assault survivors & personal experience; but decades of a culture blaming women and victims is hard to move away from subconsciously. As a woman I have internalized all of the red flags, the things one should not do in order to stay safe.
The truth is, it doesn't matter if you flirt or accept a date or even sext; if you do not consent to sex or a sexual encounter it is not your fault and it isn't something that should naturally unfold from the circumstances. I think date rape is still one of the harder hurdles to get over in our society. We understand stranger rape as wrong, but date rape is often explained away as having grey areas or as a misunderstanding.
At some point in her story it didn't matter how elite her school was or how much money Chessy's family had- it was still another story of a girl being raped, her experience, and the aftermath of bullying and ostracization from her school community when she reported. Chessy was "lucky " in that she was actually able to seek justice since her case went to court. Only a very small number of sexual assault cases make it that far.
*I think I cried through the whole second half of the book.*
I want to say that Chessy repeatedly points out that she understands her privilege based on her status and class. Her family could afford to fly up for every court hearing, to rent a house in the city of the trial and have her whole family with her, to have connections that could help her discover information, combat cyber-bullying etc. Most families do not have access to these resources. Does her status make her story less worthwhile? No.
Even with her privilege, it was still a painful and very difficult process. In fact, in some ways I think the power the school community wielded with their money & status to embrace her attacker and blame the victim added to the pain of the experience for Chessy & her family. One of the things that I took away from this was the way Chessy and her family were galvanized to learn from their experiences and help educate others. I think that is one of the things that makes this tale different from others; our ability to see Chessy and her family move through the whole process together and how they chose to move forward in their lives, forever changed by one night and a community's ensuing response to the event. We cannot all become advocates or hashtag trendsetters, but we do need stories of those who are able to do so. Obviously, the best case scenario would be that there were no more sexual assaults. But barring that, a more survivor friendly system, a society that does not shame victims, and examples of how to move forward after an assault are sorely needed. I think that is why this story ended up resonating with and moving me after all. A very powerful read.
There is incredible courage in Chessy's openness -- her willingness to share so many details of what happened, how she felt, her interactions with the school, with the assailant, her friends, etc. She is not afraid to explain that there is no such thing as a "perfect victim." But the line that stuck with me was this: "Rape is not a punishment for poor judgment." This is so important for everyone, especially sexual assault victims, to understand.
She also reveals the organizational/systemic rot that breeds this kind of behavior in institutions, St. Paul's School, in this case. The social reward structure that encourages rape. The apathetic administration in which no one wants to be the person responsible for dealing with this epidemic (and so they all turn a blind eye). The bullying and shaming that terrorize and silence survivors of sexual assault. These are things that CAN and MUST be changed. But they will change only when those in power take responsibility for what is happening, rather turning a blind and then, when they absolutely must respond, writing another email with a subject line like, "We're shocked...SHOCKED...to learn of this isolated incident." No one is shocked. And these incidents aren't isolated. We will have made real progress when that email subject line reads "Wow. We REALLY messed up, and we are so sorry. And here's how we're going to fix this enormous problem."
The book is written by a young person and it feels very authentic. It is categorized as a Young Adults book, but I can think of a lot of Old Adults who should be reading it.
Top reviews from other countries
als Missbrauch durch einen Mittschüler empfindet und auch so darstellen wird.
Sehr aufschlussreiches Buch über amerikanische Eliteschulen und die dort herrschenden Denk- und Verhaltensmuster.