Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence

Edited by Lisa Factora-Borchers. AK Press (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (178p) ISBN 978-1-84935-172-0
This chilling, heartbreaking, and necessary collection consists of letters from 40 artists, activists, writers, and students, who are survivors of sexual assault and here offer counsel to “sister” survivors. Every story is shadowed by the teller’s sense of shame, brokenness, depression, and pain, but at the same time, in anticipation of the addressees’ experience of sexual assault, the letters also offer comfort, solidarity, reassurance, the possibility of healing, and testimony of survival. Unquestionably moving, the letters often take an expected trajectory, though some selections elevate the collection into surprising, critical territory. “Feminine Wiles” shows femininity reclaimed as a weapon that ensures safety. “Letter 12” and “Another Post About Rape” insightfully discuss the ways in which women are socially “groomed” to be sexual prey. “An Unlikable Survivor” provides helpful balance to the collection, arguing that contrary to the usual story of transcendence, sometimes damage has its consequences, and though many are able to transform experience, some women are rightly, unapologetically angry: “We have not gained some divine likeability by virtue of being survivors. We are not all Mother Theresa trying to save the world.” There is much power in this telling. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/18/2013
Release date: 01/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 178 pages - 978-1-84935-173-7
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