Book 19 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from February 04 - 10
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
Summary (via Goodreads)
Missoula, Montana is a typical college town, home to a highly regarded state university whose beloved football team inspires a passionately loyal fan base. Between January 2008 and May 2012, hundreds of students reported sexual assaults to the local police. Few of the cases were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical.
In these pages, acclaimed journalist Jon Krakauer investigates a spate of campus rapes that occurred in Missoula over a four-year period. Taking the town as a case study for a crime that is sadly prevalent throughout the nation, Krakauer documents the experiences of five victims: their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the skepticism directed at them by police, prosecutors, and the public; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them. These stories cut through abstract ideological debate about acquaintance rape to demonstrate that it does not happen because women are sending mixed signals or seeking attention. They are victims of a terrible crime, deserving of fairness from our justice system. Rigorously researched, rendered in incisive prose, Missoula stands as an essential call to action.
This was a tough read. The writing was excellent but it made me so mad to see what these women went through. To reiterate from the book jacket, "acquaintance rape is a crime like no other..." and it's true; there's no other crime where the victim is scrutinized as heavily. It's disgusting.
This was a discouraging statistic: "Rape is the most underreported serious crime in the nation. Carefully conducted studies consistently indicate that at least 80 percent of rapes are never disclosed to law enforcement agencies. Analysis published in 2012 by Kimberly Lonsway, director of research at End Violence Against Women International, and Joanne Archambault, formerly a police sergeant in charge of the San Diego Sex Crimes Unit, suggests that only between 5 percent and 20 percent of forcible rapes in the United States are reported to the police; a paltry 0.4 percent to 5.4 percent of rapes are ever prosecuted; and just 0.2 percent to 2.8 percent of forcible rapes culminate in a conviction that includes any time for the assailant. Here's another way to think about these numbers: When an individual is raped in this country, more than 90 percent of the time the rapist gets away with the crime."
Trigger warning if you've been the victim of sexual assault.
A Few Quotes from the Book
"She had many nightmares. "When I'd have a dream like that," Huguet said, "I'd wake up emotionally drained. The images from the dream would be really vivid, and they would stay in my head throughout the day. I couldn't get them out of my mind. People don't understand how exhausting that was - the nightmares, and not sleeping, and constantly worrying about who might be hiding behind the shower curtain. They just don't get what you go through, day after day, when you've been raped." ~ Allison Huguet
" "People in Missoula need to know that if you rape an acquaintance, it is a serious crime, and that there needs to be a punishment that fits the crime." " ~ Fred Van Valkenberg