on 17 July 2009
Abi Grant shares her traumatic and life changing experiences with honesty, wit and clarifying insight. I was moved to tears and helpless laughter in equal measure and left breathless with indignation at the legal system's inbuilt and outrageous injustices to victims of sexual crime.Her journey through helpless victim of sexual and violent attack by a stranger in her own home, through to fighting courtroom (heroine!) witness, via her personal and family background - with hilarious wit and poignancy - is pure inspiration. Thank you Ms Grant ... I am indebted to you. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone and everyone to read this enriching book.
on 5 August 2009
Abi Grant's book WORDS CAN DESCRIBE is a revelation. There should be a copy of it in every family household in the land -- certainly in every rape crisis centre. It should be mandatory reading for anyone who has to deal with the aftermath of rape and sexual assault. It should also be mandatory reading for every single individual, from judges to court officials, who draws a salary for work in what is laughably known as the British Justice System. But when I say mandatory I certainly don't want to give the impression that it's hard going. It isn't. It's a page turner in its own right and that's even more remarkable when you consider the subject matter. How anyone could turn a traumatic experience like violent sexual assault and its ensuing twelve year nightmare into such a coherent, cogently argued and irrepressibly witty account is a question that this book will answer from the first chapter to the last. Of course it's painful, because it's intensely personal. But it's also a searingly honest account from horror to eventually triumphant survival and it wears its reformist credentials on both sleeves of the dust jacket and on every page in between. Buy several copies and give them to your friends. It'll be the best move you will ever make against the rampant curse of rape in our supposedly civilised society.
on 27 June 2009
Abi Grant is an intelligent and witty writer who enables us to understand the emotional, physical and spiritual cost of speaking painful truths. From the personal to the political, Grant shares her own very painful journey and allows us a greater understanding of the effects of sexual attack and the court processes that follow. But this book is not a heavy tome, because Grant is a terrific author, with lightness of touch and pithy observations. This is essential reading for everyone involved in the treatment of those who have experienced sexual attack, and their friends and families.
on 20 July 2009
This is one of the most humbling books I've ever read. Written with great honesty, integrity and a sharp humour, this extremely personal account of a sex attack 'victim's' devastating experience, both at the hands of the perpetrator and the English judiciary, is deeply moving. Her fight to reclaim her life is inspirational. Bravo Abi Grant- your words certainly do describe.
on 1 August 2009
Reviewers will often try to categorise books. There are self-help books, memoirs, horror stories, autobiography. This extraordinary book is all the above but to describe it as an amalgamation is wrong because over and above categorisation, it is simply, purely brilliant. And as books are categorised, so unfortunately Abi Grant must be sick and tired of being described as `brave.' But she is, and phenomenally so. Sixteen years ago, a successful writer, she woke in her own bedroom to a nightmare scenario. A man named Greig Strachan followed her home, climbed in a window and attacked her, intent on rape. With jaw dropping courage she fought him off, and then ran to the upstairs flat, face streaming with blood. But he was then unknown to the police, so after weeks of investigation, the case faded, while Abi's own life began to fall apart. And then fifteen years later, just as she was starting to get her life together again, the single fingerprint found in her flat was matched and the now cold case reopened.
I was totally gripped by this book. Although having every reason to, Abi writes without a shred of self-pity. Instead her prose is sharp, elegant and occasionally had me snorting with shocked laughter. At the police station in a state of shock she says: `It was when he started strangling me that I realised it wasn't a social call'. Swept along by her powerful voice, you will cheer for her. There is also a section at the end offering wise and pithy advice for anyone who has been attacked and has to negotiate the minefield of the legal system. An absolute must read for anyone who has been affected by rape or sexual assault, and considering the wretched rape conviction rate in the UK, there will be many.
A stunning book. Read it.
Abi Grant was attacked and sexually assaulted in her own flat in the middle of the night by a stranger. This book traces her life from that point on. Her attacker was not arrested and tried until twelve years later. Abi writes about her emotions and her descent into despair and addiction with wry insight. Gradually she managed to rebuild her life and career with the help of her friends.
I found this book gripping reading and I was by turns reduced to tears and anger as well as laughing at the way she described people and incidents. She shows the full horror from the victim's point of view of any criminal trial involving sexual assault. There is an interesting chapter at the end of the book about some notable rape trials where victims have been deemed to have in some manner encouraged the attack.
This is a must read book for anyone - male or female - as it shows up the inadequacies of the legal system in these cases even though in Abi's case her assailant received a lenthy sentence. It is not a comfortable read, and cannot have been comfortable to write, but it is still well worth reading.
Abi's book reads almost like a personal journal - the sort you keep when you're in therapy, to help you understand what's going on. There's no doubt in my mind that she wrote it as part of her lengthy recovery from the shock of being attacked by a would-be rapist. As a professional writer, she does a great job of it; her record's almost too composed - no need to fear hysterical polemic in this book!
I'm 7 years into recovering from PTSD myself. I was horrified to discover Ms Grant's recovery has taken 14 years! Her decision to support her attacker's criminal prosecution, 2 years ago, set her back but that still makes 12 years ...
After reading this book, I immediately sent it to an acquaintance who has experienced a sex attack. Ms Grant's story may both distress her and help her - as it did me.
I would have liked 'Words Can Describe' to be longer. She's evidently skimmed over many crucial stages in her experience: the two years she spent homeless; her time in 12-step recovery (given away by her choices of terms, but never directly mentioned); how she dealt with rebuilding her social life. However, I appreciate that dwelling on those periods could have led to apparent self-pity. And, if there's one thing Ms Grant is not, it's self-pitying!
In the books' final chapter, she sounds angry at last. Hers is highly focussed, politically-targeted anger - largely over the prejudices inherent in our justice system. It was good to hear genuine rage at the end of her measured account. Good, too, to see how much more politically aware this talented journalist has become. I'm taking a lesson from her.
I'd recommend this book to everyone, of either sex, whose life has crumbled after being treated badly. Also to anybody looking at a traumatised friend and thinking 'Why can't they just get over it?'. It is both moving and useful.
Having thankfully never been in the situation Abi found herself in that dreadful night, I found reading this book quite gut wrenching at times, as Abi intimately described the depth of fear generated by the attack and its aftermath. Her description of how such an event can destroy your psyche in ways you don't even realise was extensive - as she said, "If a woman doesn't emerge from the room with a broken nose then she hasn't really been attacked." She aptly describes the degradation of living on benefits and how employement is not an easy option when waiting for a court date. And her walkthrough of the judicial system is a wake up call to anyone who has never had to deal with a court appearance - that, even when innocent, you can still be treated as if guilty - every question designed to try and put doubt in the jury's mind as to your innocence. To discover that the police can't divulge information about YOUR case to YOU until after the court case is sobering. All in all, an inspiring read of how one person eventually triumphed over a personal trauma, and well worth the read.
on 17 July 2009
This story of a rapist convicted of a violent sex attack by a single fingerprint 12 years after the crime is as compelling as a thriller. Abi Grant writes with courage and a mordant humour as sharp as her anger about how her life was nearly derailed a second time by two trials, months of delays and a legal system that is a whole new ordeal in itself. And the book isn't only about her own experience. Her arguments about the attitudes to women, pornography and sex crimes that she believes to behind the pitiful rate of conviction for rape in this country are lucid, well-researched - and very shocking.
This was something different to the 'normal' read for me. I am so glad that I read it though.
Abi Grant is a writer who one night suffered an horrendous and terrifying assault in her own home.
She has written this book to describe both the incident and and its effects on her life subsequent to it. It is difficult to imagine what it must have been like to suffer such an attack. Abi Grant details in this book what happened in her life after the attack, how difficult it was to try and get a conviction in the case, and how it had damaging and enduring repercussions in all other areas of her life, career, relationships, and physical and particularly mental health.
It is a very moving read, and at times very uncomfortable. It is also alarming and shocking. I would recommend it to anyone who is trying to understand how life can feel after being violated in this way. It is an honest account and Grant details all the struggles in trying to find a new home, new job, and deal with so many practical things whilst also trying to overcome the shock of the attack itself. She does not act as a victim though and tries to get on with her life, which she succeeds in doing after seeking help and with the support of some great friends (as she does not have strong caring family support - she discusses her family within the book), and eventually re-establishes a career for herself. It was sad and eye-opening to read about some of the insights into the criminal system.
A very moving and honest read.