Emily was in a restaurant, having lunch with her father – the next thing she remembers is waking up, naked, in a strange hotel room, next to a man she did not know.
She suspected she had been drugged and raped. She later found out she had been filmed without her consent.
What happened to her that night could have happened to anyone. What came next happens to far to many victims, as failures by the police, CPS and other parts of the system, led to Emily doubting she would ever get justice.
Part memoir and part investigation, Emily shines a light on the fault lines of a system and a society that is failing rape victims. We Need to Talk looks at how rape is a mainstream, everyday problem deeply damaging victims, their families, their workplaces and the economy.
This is a conversation starter about why we don’t talk about rape; that the only cause of rape is rapists, not rape victims; who commits rape and why; the reasons why society defaults to blaming the victim; and ultimately how we need to change and humanise the way we talk about rape in order to truly hear and support victims and end the current epidemic of sexual violence.
Thanks to Mel at Mardle Books for sending me an early copy of We Need to Talk, this is a subject that I am very interested in so I was keen to read this one.
From the outset I was struck by the honesty of this account, the author herself comments how rape is such a taboo subject and I was left thinking how brave she is to write this book. This in itself is a juxtaposition because in writing the book the author is striving to shine a light on the secrecy of this crime and pervading views, beliefs and myths that prevent victims of rape from achieving justice from our current legal system.
Despite its subject matter the book is written in a way that makes it very accessible, in a factual rather than emotive narrative.
This book is about rape, what it is, how it is perceived and how it is dealt with and laid out in a 240 page book, the statistics are shocking. The book is insightful and thought provoking. I found myself at times feeling some sympathy for the perpetrator and that is the essence of this book, how we as humans view rape. We know that non consensual sex is rape, but somehow there continues to be confusion about consent and so some sex without consent is not viewed as rape. There was something for me about ‘poor man, he didn’t realise’ but we all need to check ourselves because as a society we need to stop excusing men and shifting the blame to women – ‘she drunk too much’… We know the appropriate and decent response to seeing someone incapacitated with alcohol is to help them and ensure their safety, but we hear time and again of women being sexually assaulted and subsequently blamed. The author talks a lot about rape being the only crime where the credibility of the victim takes precedence and this is a major issue.
This book is highly readable and could (or should) be mandatory reading for secondary school children. Like No My Name (reviewed here) by Chanel Miller, this is an account of a female survivor of rape and her fight, over a number of years for justice. Books such as these highlight how desperately wrong the justice system is, the likelihood of a conviction is an understandable stance for the CPS to take with all crimes, however not enough rape cases get to court and so nothing changes and the issues self perpetuate. Futhermore Hunt highlights how it isn’t actually that difficult to shift views relating to rape and myths surrounding it.
This case was a big one, but not reported widely enough. I applaud Emily Hunt for her tenacity in not giving up and for fighting for change for future victims of rape. I finished this book feeling optimistic that change is on the horizon, I certainly hope so.
This book is out in February 2023, a little way off but it’s such an important non fiction read, I would urge you to add it to your list now so you don’t forget! Thanks as always for reading and thanks again to Mel at Mardle Books for the early copy.
About the Author
Emily Hunt is a data storyteller and senior advisor on behaviour-led strategy, communications and brand. She is a dual American and British citizen, a single mother, lives in London and last but by no means least, she is a law changer.