In Surviving the Silence
, Charlotte Pierce-Baker provides a space for survivors to discuss the unthinkable act of rape. Pierce-Baker, a survivor herself, places rape within a historical and cultural context, explaining the shroud of silence that surrounds it within the black community. She allows women to speak about their experiences as informed by their race and gender identities, weaving together their stories with her own. In her gripping introduction, Pierce-Baker writes, "For black women, where rape is concerned, race has preceded issues of gender. We are taught that we are first black, then women.... Black women have survived by keeping quiet, not solely out of shame, but out of a need to preserve the race and its image. In our attempts to preserve racial pride, we black women have often sacrificed our souls."
Pierce-Baker's careful inclusion of many voices fills the silence and demonstrates how little has been said until now about black women's experience with sexual assault. Some stories feel incomplete because the narrator is unwilling to speak; the silence becomes palpable in these stories, demonstrating the isolating silence for these women and for other survivors. Surviving the Silence breaks ground by voicing, poignantly and sometimes painfully, the perspectives of the survivors and also their loved ones, as Pierce-Baker creates a space for the fathers, husbands, and male friends to speak. The book's unique discussion of black women's survival experiences supplies a rich addition to the existing dialogue of sexual assault. --Amy Wan
From Publishers Weekly
In 1981 two men broke into the author's Philadelphia home and took turns raping her while holding her husband and her nine-year-old son at gunpoint. The intruders left after tying up the family and robbing them of all their valuables. In this devastating memoir, Pierce-Baker describes the psychological damage that was done to her and her family as a result of these crimes as well as her difficulty in dealing with her anger over the fact that the rapists were, like her, black. The author contends that there is a stigma attached to black-on-black rape that intimidates its victims into silence. In the course of her work as a volunteer for Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR), Pierce-Baker collected the stories of other rape victims and provides here the powerful testimonies of 10 black "silent survivors"AAfrican American women who were sexually molested by male relatives during childhood, subjected to "acquaintance rape" as teenagers or adults or, like the author, assaulted by strangers. She also includes haunting narratives of black men related to the rape survivors, such as Pierce-Baker's husband and her father, who, she notes, struggle for the best way to support the women they love. Although the author helped to convict one of her rapists, she believes that her own healing and that of other victims will come from sharing their stories. An important inquiry into a too often overlooked crime. Agent, Jane Dystel.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.