cover image When the Subject Is Rape: A Guide for Male Partners, Friends and Family Members

When the Subject Is Rape: A Guide for Male Partners, Friends and Family Members

Alan W. McEvoy. Square One, $17.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-0-7570-0522-0

In this insightful manual, McEvoy (Toxic Romance), a professor emeritus of sociology at Northern Michigan University, offers men tools to best support female rape victims in their lives. Explaining that men often don’t know how to discuss sexual assault, McEvoy defines basic vocabulary and elucidates how victims can experience a variety of complicated emotions, from anger or shame to feelings of isolation. Memory issues are common as victims process trauma, sometimes taking the form of flashbacks that “strike like thunderbolts” and at other times as a gradual unfolding of suppressed details; for this reason, McEvoy notes, listeners should expect the victim’s narrative to evolve over time and avoid responding with disbelief if it does. The author sets out communication strategies to use when a woman discloses the rape (let her direct the conversation, make clear she’s not responsible for “failing to resist the attack”), responses to avoid (don’t interrogate, don’t suggest retribution), and ways to foster “post-traumatic growth” by helping the victim shape a “redemptive narrative” of the event. McEvoy handles his topic with sensitivity and is careful not to overstate the man’s role in the healing process—it’s vital for women to maintain total agency throughout—while still making clear that they can play an important support role. This is an ideal road map for male partners or friends who want to help, but don’t know where to start. (June)