Content Warning: Sexual Assault (SA) I will not discuss graphic details.
Anyone of any sex or gender can be a victim of SA or a perpetrator. This book focuses specifically on cis, college women.
For one month out of the year, I do my best to read solely non-fiction. I never used to be a non-fiction reader, however, I like to learn new things and the best way to do that is through reading. For the month of June, I’m going to read only non-fiction. I have two more books lined up for the month, so I’m curious to see if I read them both. The first non-fiction book I read this month was Missoula Rape And The Justice System In A College Town.
Missoula is seemingly an ordinary college town. The University of Montana is the home base for the Grizzly football team which unites college kids and the town as a whole. Missoula became the home base for a scandal when articles were published alleging that Missoula wasn’t thoroughly investigating sexual assaults. Numerous women were coming forward saying they reported their sexual assault but were told there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute. Women who came forward were asked if they had a boyfriend or other deeply personal questions completely unrelated to their trauma. Jon Krakauer details the victims, their stories, and how Missoula came under investigation.
There are so many horrifying pieces in this story. In one instance, there’s a phrase that I have heard before where a rapist isn’t charged because “a victim declined to press charges” This statement in many ways is false. A SA victim can report this to the police, but if the criminal justice system doesn’t want to indict someone, they have the power to not move the case forward. It’s interesting because I have heard this statement before and it’s so misleading to what actually is going on.
One way I was impressed with Missoula was the way Krakauer brought up the fear of false SA charges. There was a case specifically referenced where a man was sent to prison and the victim came forward saying she made up that she was assaulted. This part of the book was delicate because it stated how awful false charges are and bridged that with how every case should be investigated with tenacity and diligence. I thought this was done in a respectful and tactful way.
The book itself kept me engaged throughout. There was a guide in the back where it listed all the individuals mentioned in the story. I found it easy to reference and follow along with all the key players in the book. I think the book was the perfect length where it wasn’t too long or too short. This was easily one of my all-time favorite non-fiction books I have ever read even though it was disturbing.
Missoula Rape And The Justice System In A College Town is a book I would recommend everyone to read. The survivors are the true heroes and without them, there wouldn’t have been any change.