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Monday, March 28, 2011

ARC Review: CRASH INTO ME - A Survivor's Search for Justice (By: Liz Seccuro)

Title: Crash Into Me - A Survivor's Search for Justice
Author: Liz Seccuro
Rating: 4 of 5

Bloomsbury USA / December 21, 2010 / Hardcover

WARNING: The topic of this book and/or review may be sensitive to some readers.

In September 2005, Liz Seccuro's world turned upside down when she received an apology letter from the man who had raped her twenty-two years earlier. The rape, which occurred when she was a seventeen-year-old freshman at the University of Virginia, was reported to the campus police, but their inquiry led nowhere. The man accused of raping her left the university soon after and Seccuro tried to put the incident behind her, but like all survivors of trauma, the memory was never far from the surface.

The letter brought it all back. Seccuro bravely began an e-mail correspondence with her rapist to try to understand what happened, and why. As the correspondence continued, Seccuro found the courage to do what should have been done all those years earlier—prosecute him.

 She began appearing on national television and radio to talk about the case. Several crime dramas and a John Grisham novel, The Associate, were based on her experience. She had found a way to end a terrible story, but once judicial proceedings began she found that what she thought occurred at that UVA frat party was only the tip of the iceberg. She now has reason to think there were two other assailants, neither of whom has been brought to justice. Liz Seccuro's inspiring, unflinching memoir is about experiencing terrible trauma—and the power of justice to heal.

Before coming across this book on Goodreads I had never heard anything about Liz Seccuro nor the rape case that has defined her life. I must be living under a rock though because her story has been splashed across various media outlets. What makes Seccuro's case different from other victim's of rape is that the crime was committed 22 years prior to the start of the case. It is this element that created such a media frenzy, and in turn is what inspired Seccuro to write this book.

Seccuro`s journey began with a letter written to her by the man who had raped her in college 22 years prior. It is this letter that brought many painful memories back to the surface, but is also what acted as a catalyst for change. Before delving into the specifics of the case though, Seccuro takes reader's back to the night of her rape and outlines each horrendous detail. At first I felt this section of the book was kind of sensationalized but soon came to understand that this was Seccuro's opportunity to tell her story, in her own voice, free from media speculation. To truly capture the magnitude of the situation, and the impact it has had on her life, Seccuro needed to describe the rape scene to the extent in which she did.  

The legal battle that ensues because of the letter, and Seccuro's subsequent emails, will no doubt infuriate and engross you. Overall she writes about the case in an objective point of view despite the emotional investment that she has in its outcome and her trust in the justice system carries the various court proceedings from beginning to end. Despite this though, the transcripts from the case prove how difficult rape cases can be as Seccuro must defend herself to the media and the courts as she is painted as a guilty party. This struggle is something many victims of rape are faced with and is no doubt the reason why many stay silent.

Throughout this book it is discussed how campus rapes are often kept quiet to preserve the school's reputation. In sharing her story, Seccuro is giving a voice to victims while doing her best to address how silence merely perpetuates sexual violence. While there are more resources and information available in the year`s since her rape, victims can still feel isolated. STARS (Sisters Together Assisting Rape Survivors) is a foundation that Seccuro started with her husband. This fund provides non-profit organizations with the means necessary to help victims, and aims to assist colleges and universities when it comes to responding to on-campus rapes.

Crash Into Me is as much a story about justice as it is about survival. It is about how to build your life from tragedy rather than building around it and about moving on even when you don`t have all of the answers. While the content of this book is not suitable for everyone, it is definitely an interesting memoir for adult readers. Those who are victims of sexual violence will no doubt have difficulty with the topic, but hopefully they will also find some sort of solace Seccuro`s words.

A special thanks to Bloomsbury USA for posting a giveaway for this book on Goodreads. For more information about Liz Seccuro and her foundation, you can visit STARS. 

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