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by Thema Bryant-Davis
Rowman & Littlefield, 2011
Review by Hennie Weiss on Jan 3rd 2012

Surviving Sexual Violence

Edited by Thema Bryant-Davis, Surviving Sexual Violence: A Guide to Recovery and Empowerment, is a collection of 21 essays written to describe and examine different types of sexual violence as well as diverse pathways to both recovery and empowerment for the survivors of sexual violence. Part one which is an overview of sexual violations consists of seven essays describing various types of sexual violence, such as harassment, trafficking, rape and child sexual assault. In this collection, the reader becomes aware of how common sexual violence is, as well as the many different forms of sexual violence. Part two consists of fourteen essays that provide examples and direct ways in which survivors can recover and start the process of healing from sexual violence. The range of theories and pathways to healing in part two is impressive and well thought through. These examples range from cognitive and behavioral treatments to mind and body exercises. Survivors may choose to read the essays which they find the most interesting or read all the essays searching for treatments that may fit their specific needs and requirements. Some essays focus on individual treatments while others include family members and support groups. Other interesting topics on recovery and empowerment include self-defense, spirituality/religion, journaling and eye movement desensitization.    

As many different authors are engaged in this collection of essays and many different aspects of sexual violence and roads to recovery are discussed, the range of topics is broad but detailed. Information concerning the gendered aspects of sexual violence is included as are other characteristics such as race/ethnicity, as well as sexual violence in different age groups (such as childhood, adolescence, adulthood and seniors). All individuals, no matter gender, age, or race/ethnicity, will find these essays both informational and helpful. Bryant-Davis has also included a shorter section concerning sexual violence recovery resources, such as websites and films for readers who are interested in gaining further knowledge on the topic of sexual violence.

What is especially impressive about Surviving Sexual Violence: A Guide to Recovery and Empowerment is the fact that so many different types of sexual violence are examined, explained and discussed in part one. The same is true for part two where a multitude of different treatments and healing options are discussed. The reader (whether this person is a survivor of sexual violence, a friend, family member or acquaintance of someone victimized) is very likely to be able to relate to the different essays, different experiences and treatment options. Many of the essays also contain case studies or case examples that help the reader further comprehend the written text.

Surviving Sexual Violence: A Guide to Recovery and Empowerment is of great use to any person who is a survivor of sexual violence or someone who knows anyone who has been victimized. Any person interested in sexual violence and different treatment options would also greatly benefit from the book. Students and teachers in various disciplines such as Sociology, Psychology and Human Sexuality could use the book as both a teaching and learning tool. At times the writing is fairly academic, but the case examples do help to integrate the theoretical discussions into an approachable manner. The different essays also treat sexual violence in a direct yet gentle manner, stressing that survivors have been wrongfully victimized but that recovery and empowerment are possible to attain.

 

© 2012 Hennie Weiss

 

Hennie Weiss is a graduate student in Sociology at California State University, Sacramento. Her academic interests include women’s studies, gender, sexuality and feminism.