Marta Bladek

ISSN 2516-8045

Download: Marta Bladek, ‘Moving On by Going Back: Spatial Figuration of Trauma and Recovery in Susan J. Brison’s Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of the Self’.

Susan J. Brison’s memoir, Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of the Self (2002) opens up with a memory of the walk she took on a bright July morning in the summer of 1990.1 Thrilled with the opportunity to enjoy a ‘gorgeous day’ in the French countryside, Brison went out on her own as her husband stayed behind to work at home: ‘I sang to myself as I set out, stopping to pet a goat and pick a few wild strawberries along the way’.2 Her jubilant mood and the idyllic charm of the surroundings, however, were abruptly shattered shortly after. What Brison remembers next is ‘lying face down in a muddy creek bed at the bottom of a dark ravine, struggling to stay alive’.3 While the scenes she recalls are sequential, their irreconcilability is striking. The stark contrast between the subsequently remembered places – ‘a peaceful-looking country road’ and ‘a muddy creek bed at the bottom of a dark ravine’ – reveals a rupture in the chronology of the morning’s events.4 Rather than establishing continuity and coherence, Brison’s successive place memories register a gap that would explain how and why she got into the ditch. When, a few months later, she revisits the scene in memory and attempts to write about having ‘been grabbed from behind, pulled into the bushes, beaten and sexually assaulted,’ Brison still cannot make sense out of the morning’s violent unravelling.5 ‘[A]ll I could come up with was a list of paradoxes,’ she sums up her early frustrations at not being able to come up with an orderly narrative of the traumatic event and its aftermath.6

A composite of Brison’s autobiographical and philosophical reflections on the lasting effects of the sexual assault she only narrowly survived, Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self explores the challenges that inevitably confront the survivor as she undertakes the task of ‘reconstructing a self in the sense of a remembered and ongoing narrative about oneself’.7 With its emphasis on location and place, the memoirs opening scenes not only depict the dramatic turn in Brison’s life, but they also signal the narratives reliance on spatial imagery and metaphors to convey the trauma of rape, as well as the arduous and ongoing process of recovery. Whereas Brison’s narrative exposes the limits of conceptualizing the violence of rape in spatial terms, its emphasis on traumas and recoveries spatial aspects invites new ways to interpret the traumatic experience. Informed by a close reading of Aftermath and contemporary theories of trauma, this essay puts forward a spatial figuration of trauma as the paradox of simultaneous departure and return, taking leave of and coming back to the site of violation, metaphorically and literally. Only after she has metaphorically and literally revisited the traumatic event—by reliving it through flashbacks, by bearing public witness to it, by going back to the place she was assaulted and by writing about her experience—is Brison able to distance herself from it and begin to look forward to the future that attack has not, after all, foreclosed.

Rape Script

In her influential essay, ‘Fighting Bodies, Fighting Words: A Theory and Politics of Rape Prevention’ (1992), Sharon Marcus argues against ‘regarding rape […] as a fact to be accepted or opposed, tried, or avenged’.8 Instead, she proposes an understanding of rape ‘as a process to be analyzed and undermined as it occurs’.9 To prevent or eradicate rape altogether we need to recognize discursive representations and constructions of rape as a script, or a social narrative that ‘enacts conventional, gendered structures of feeling and action’.10 Insofar as it provides an interpretive framework, rape script shapes behaviours and attitudes that condone, or even justify, sexual violence; it also affects the encounter between the perpetrator and the victim.11 A careful analysis of elements constituting the script, Marcus insists, is the first step in combating rape.

Brison echoes Marcus’s understanding of rape as a socially and culturally mediated practice: ‘[G]iven the stories of rape I’d grown up with and the ones I’d heard and read about again and again in adulthood,’ she reflects, ‘one might say I remembered the rape even before it happened, as a kind of postmemory’.12 As Brison adopts Marianne Hirsch’s term, she points out that, unlike Holocaust related postmemories that are transmitted across generations, postmemories of rape ‘are absorbed from the culture’ in which stories of women’s rapes circulate.13 Exposed to various rape scripts and scenarios, individual women take their susceptibility to sexual violence for granted. Brison acknowledges that postmemories of rape ‘inform[ed] the way I lived in my body and moved about in the world’.14 Brison’s familiarity with the rape script not only compels her to take everyday precautions, it also enables her to classify her attack as a sexual assault as it is taking place.

At first, experiencing the assault as ‘a highly unrealistic nightmare,’ she soon recognizes it as ‘a rape-in-progress’.15 Brison remembers that ‘[t]here was even a moment of relieved recognition when my assailant began sexually assaulting me. ‘OK, I see, this makes (some) sense. It suddenly became oddly familiar’.16 Brison draws on postmemories of rape to interpret what is happening to her. The ready script organizes her unique experience of being sexually assaulted. Importantly, at the same time as they explain what is she is experiencing, Brison’s postmemories of rape prescribe the actions she should take. In an effort to deflect the threat, she draws on a knowable and recognizable scenario: ‘I attempted to enact a range of rape-avoidance scripts I’d read about’.17 Consequently, she surrenders even as she continues to negotiate with the attacker. Insofar as Brison’s postmemories of sexual violence not only frame her rape in familiar terms but also determine how she acts, they imply that ‘rape is not only scripted–it also scripts’.18

Even as Brison relies on acquired scenarios of rape to make sense out of to the violent assault, she soon discovers their limited applicability. In accordance with the rape script, she offers no resistance and engages in bargaining with the attacker.19 When this response proves ineffective, Brison is struck with the realization that ‘there was no more script for me to follow’.20 Instead, she gives in to her bodies instinct to fight back: ‘I had to fight like prey pursued by a stronger predator – outrun him or outwit him, using animal instincts, not reason’.21 The attacker leaves her alone and walks away only after she pretends to be dead.22 Brison’s experience of her attack, then, at once re-enacts and exposes the limits of the script that relies on ‘the binary framing’ of victimization and agency.23 Neither acquiescence nor resistance protects Brison from being violated. To rephrase Carine Mardorossian who pointedly argues against ‘the dominant cultures proclivity to see rape as women’s problem’, Brison’s attack exposes the script’s untenable premise that a woman’s body and actions can act as ‘the site of rape prevention’.24

Spatial Metaphors of Rape

To define and describe the violence of a non-consensual sex act, rape script mobilizes multiple spatial metaphors. In Rape: A History from 1860 to the Present Day (2007), Joanna Bourke sums up the prevalent definition of rape as a conquest: ‘Rapists literally invade and attempt to conquer the sexual terrain of their victims’.25 Similarly, when tracing a genealogy of feminist theorizations of rape, Kathryn Robson notices that rape has long been explained ‘as an invasion of a protected inner space that equates to a violation of the embodied self’.26 Indeed, arguing for a more capacious definition of rape in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, Linda Alcoff relies on spatial terms as well: ‘To violate is to infringe upon someone, to transgress, and it can also mean to rupture or break’.27 In such a view, the space of violation is already gendered as the body at risk of being raped is presumed to be ‘vulnerable, penetrable, and wounded’.28 As an act of violent trespass, rape is conceptualized as the ‘invasion of the female inner space’ that collapses the boundary between inside and outside.29 Because rape figures as an external threat to women’s bodily integrity, the danger of sexual violence correlates with women’s exposure as they move across space. In line with this logic, it becomes crucial to designate specific places as either safe or dangerous. Another tenet of the rape script, however, suggests that mapping the risk of rape offers no viable precaution after all: the way in which a person navigates and inhabits space may provoke an assault. This assertion invalidates the comforting assurance that a woman will remain unharmed if only she avoids unsafe places.

Rape activists and feminist critics have been drawing attention to many of the assumptions underlying spatial figurations of rape. Research and statistics have invalidated some of the popular beliefs as well. Susan Brownmiller’s classic 1975 work, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, challenges the neat distinction between safe and unsafe places for women.30 Brownmiller cites studies that demonstrate that, as far as the risk of rape is concerned, ‘the street, the home and the automobile emerge as dangerous, high-risk places’.31 Sharon Marcus also dismantles the neat division between protected inside and unsafe outside. She notes that women are continually urged to protect themselves by staying indoors even though the majority of them are raped inside their own homes.32 A 2013 report issued by U.S. Department of Justice further corroborates Brownmiller’s and Marcus’s critique of attempts to map the risk of rape onto specific places.33 The report indicates that 55% of rapes and sexual assaults committed between 2005 and 2010 took place at or near the victim’s home and another 12% occurred at or near a friend’s home.34 In light of the data, the cliché that women can protect themselves by avoiding certain spaces no longer holds.

Brison’s narrative illuminates many of the contradictions inherent in the spatial model underlying the rape script. As she reflects on her experience and describes her efforts to regain a sense of relative safety, Brison repeatedly confronts the spatial paradoxes of the rape script. Not knowing the details of Brison’s case, the sexual violence victims’ counsellor, whom she contacts for legal advice, readily presumes that Brison was attacked in darkness.35 Although Brison was raped ‘in broad daylight,’ the counsellor accuses her of provoking the attacker by failing to ‘take basic safety precautions like not going out alone late at night’.36 In line with the spatial figuration of rape, the counsellor mistakenly equates women’s safety with the enclosure of their bodies. If staying away from potentially dangerous places is not an option, the counsellor’s remarks suggest, a woman should be careful to time her movements so that she can avoid being out when attacks are more likely to happen.37

When, having sufficiently recovered, Brison is teaching her first-ever seminar on ‘Violence against Women’, she is struck by the extent to which the spatial model of rape informs her female students’ behaviour. The young women share a sense of having to protect themselves at all times by ‘locking doors and windows, checking the back seat of the car, not walking alone at night, looking in closets on returning home’.38 Not incidentally, all these precautions aim to close off access to women’s vulnerable bodies as well as minimize the risk women run by merely being present in unprotected, and thus dangerous, spaces. Whereas the counsellor’s admonishment posits women’s safety as their own responsibility, the students’ preventive strategies show how the spatial figuration of rape curtails women’s freedom of movement. In view of these scenarios, rape is a calculated risk a woman assumes each time she lets up her vigilance and fails to look out for potential danger in her physical surroundings.

The curtailed ways in which women move in and occupy space, Brison shows, form an anticipatory response to rape. In the aftermath of an attack, they become rape’s consequences. Traumatized by her sexual assault, Brison is unable to take walks around campus unless a friend accompanies her.39 When she does eventually venture out alone, she remembers herself ‘looking over my shoulder a lot and punctuating my purposeful, straight-ahead stride with an occasional pirouette’.40 Even in seemingly ordinary and unremarkable places like a locker room or a parking lot, Brison feels vulnerable. Determined to prevent the possibility of another assault, she demands that the university install a lock and add a light so that the locker room and the parking lot no longer pose a threat to her and other unsuspecting women.41

Yet, these precautions do not eliminate Brison’s anxiety nor contain her fear of another attack. As a rape survivor, Brison recognizes that ‘a woman can be sexually assaulted anywhere, at any time–in ‘safe’ places, in broad daylight, even in her own home’.42 There are no safe places for women, contrary to what the rape script promises. Brison’s pointed critique echoes Marcus’s assertion that rape discourses rely on ‘the false demarcation between an inside and outside of rape in terms of geographical space’.43 Brison recognizes that neither her own nor any other woman’s actions will eradicate the omnipresent threat of sexual violence women continue to face. Although the spatial model of rape prescribes women’s behaviour, the restrictions on their comings and goings fail to grant women safety.

Spatial Figuration of Trauma

If Aftermath engages the spatial model of rape to highlight its contradictions, the narrative’s emphasis on trauma and recoveries spatial aspects suggests a new way to interpret the traumatic experience. The pioneering trauma scholar Judith Herman defines traumatic events as those ‘generally involv[ing] threats to life or bodily integrity, or a close personal encounter with violence and death’.44 When figured in even more explicitly spatial terms, trauma can be understood as ‘a state of internal crisis in response to an overwhelming external event that threatens existing mental structures’.45 Overwhelming and obliterating the victim’s sense of self-possession, traumatic events result in a state of internal crisis, or trauma, in which the original violence and disruption are preserved but not resolved.46 In trauma’s aftermath, then, the survivor continues to confront what Cathy Caruth identifies as the structural contradiction of trauma, the simultaneity of ‘destruction and survival’.47

Painfully aware that her survival is predicated on the experience of having outlived herself, Brison articulates this paradox when she asserts, ‘I am not the same person who set off, singing, on that sunny Fourth of July in the French countryside. I left her in a rocky creek bed at the bottom of a ravine. I had to in order to survive’.48 In an inverted logic, her death has become a precondition for her life. The attack not only robbed Brison of her earlier self, but it also brutally stripped away all her beliefs and certainties that allowed her to ‘feel at home in the world’.49 As she puts it: ‘The fact that I could be walking down a quiet, sunlit country road at one moment and be battling a murderous attacker the next undermined my most fundamental assumptions about the world’.50 Whereas she used to believe in her ability to control and influence her own life, she now recognizes the limits of her own self-determination. Similarly, her earlier trust in the goodwill of others has been replaced by an unsettling realization that ‘you can be attacked at any time, any place, simply because you are a woman’.51 In the months immediately following the attack, then, a pervasive alienation and disorientation compound Brison’s experience of her own life as ‘a spectral existence’.52

Traumatic hauntings, or flashbacks that make the victim relive the extreme event, Brison asserts, constitute ‘the worst–the unimaginably painful aftermath of violence’.53 She describes her traumatic memories of the rape as ‘uncontrollable, intrusive […] inflicted, not chosen’.54 Unbearably intense and vivid, they ‘immobilize the body by rendering the will as useless as it is in a nightmare in which one desperately tries to flee, but remains frozen’.55 Triggered by an unexpected reminder and experienced as sensory, or bodily, traumatic memories plunge Brison back into the event in which she remains arrested. Insofar as they perpetuate the extreme event even after it has already come to an end, traumatic memories collapse the division between the past and the present. As a result, the critic Roberta Culbertson writes that ‘the violation seems to continue in a reverberating present that belies the supposed linearity of time and the possibility of endings’.56 As the event from the past intrudes into and is re-lived in the present, it becomes an inseparable part of both.

Yet, according to Cathy Caruth, ‘trauma is a repeated suffering of the event, but it also is a continual leaving of its site’.57 A spatial metaphor informs Caruth’s definition of trauma as the paradox of simultaneous departure and return, taking leaving of and coming back to the site of violation. Constituted by the disjuncture between ‘the encounter with death’ and ‘the ongoing experience of having survived it,’ trauma undoes the polarity between destruction and survival58 It also collapses the complementariness of departure and return and thus challenges our ‘understanding of what it means to leave and to return’.59 Inextricably bound with each other, both departure and return are inscribed in ‘the endless inherent necessity of repetition’ that is at the heart of trauma.60 It is only through repeated acts of going back that the survivor can take leave from the extremity of the original event.

In a passage that echoes Caruth’s definition of trauma as an irresolvable crisis of simultaneous departure and return, Brison describes her struggle to comprehend what happened to her: ‘I was attacked for no reason. I had ventured outside the human community, landed beyond the moral universe, beyond the realm of predictable events and comprehensible actions, and I didn’t know how to get back’.61 The assault has produced a lasting displacement, she can neither take leave of the site of trauma nor reenter the places she previously inhabited. In the first few years after the attack, whenever people ask her if she has successfully recovered by now, Brison’s response ‘depends on what that means. If they mean “am I back to where I was before the attack?” I have to say, no, and I never will be’.62  Having survived the brutal attack, she feels can never go back because the world as she knew it no longer exists. Finding herself ‘alive but in a totally alien world,’ Brison considers herself an exile among places and people she had previously taken for granted.63

The stark realization that the encounter with extreme violence has set her apart from those around her further intensifies the acute sense of estrangement Brison continues to experience in the rape’s aftermath. Even though her relatives and friends have all been informed about the severity of the attack, their responses deeply disappoint and unsettle Brison who feels that the connection between her and them has been irrecoverably severed. Instead of relieving it, the well-intentioned encouragements Brison does receive do not lessen the acuteness of her separation either. The cheerful and untroubled optimism of the card her parents send her shocks Brison with its insensitivity.64 Urging her not to lose sight of her many blessings, the parents’ get-well wishes dismiss the extremity of her experience. In turn, the relatives who exhort Brison to be grateful for having survived fail to refer to the event directly.65 According to a well-intentioned friend, Brison should find comfort in the thought that since she has already been raped, it is unlikely that she will be violated again.66 The advice Brison receives from a colleague after the publication of her first article on sexual violence, ‘Now you can put this behind you,’ succinctly sums up all the exhortations and pronouncements others direct at her.67

Brison’s continuing distress and suffering, misunderstood or unacknowledged,  confronts the pain of separation from those who used to be close to her. The disappointing and hurtful responses of other people reenact and exacerbate the ‘utter aloneness’ she first experienced during the attack.68 Unlike survivors of wars or earthquakes, who inhabit a common shattered world,’ Brison reflects, ‘rape victims face the cataclysmic destruction of their world alone, surrounded by people who find it hard to understand what’s so distressing’.69 Despite the fact that rape is a group-based trauma, individual victims’ suffering can rarely be shared and takes place in private instead.70 For survivors of sexual violence, the isolation all trauma victims face is exacerbated, not relieved, in the aftermath.

The violation and shattering of the connection between the self and others is one of the most devastating effects of trauma. Since the self is relational, ‘formed and sustained in relation to others,’ the breach of attachments results in the undoing of the self.71 In trauma, then, the self’s exposure and vulnerability to others is no longer constitutive but destructive: the self can be unmade by others precisely because it is constructed in connection with them. Trauma ‘destroys the belief that one can be oneself in relation to others,’ Judith Herman argues.72 ‘Without this belief,’ Brison adds, ‘one can no longer be oneself even to oneself, since the self exists fundamentally in relation to others’.73 Inevitably, the victim’s alienation from others is compounded by her alienation from herself.

Applying Martin Buber’s distinction between ‘thou’ and ‘you’ to the Holocaust, Dori Laub argues that trauma is predicated on the absence of an addressable ‘other to which one could say ‘Thou’ in the hope of being heard, of being recognized as a subject, of being answered’.74 In effect, trauma is not only ‘a sudden address from elsewhere that we cannot preempt’,75 but also an address that precludes an answer. In the aftermath of her attack, when others refuse to hear or acknowledge her story of the violent event, Brison re-experiences the withdrawal of mutual recognition.

Recovery: Metaphorical and Literal Returns to the Site of Trauma

While the absence of an addressable other is central to trauma, his or her presence makes recovery possible. As Judith Herman emphasizes, recovery ‘can take place only within the context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation’.76 Precisely because ‘the self as fundamentally relational-capable of being undone by violence,’ it is ‘also [capable] of being remade in connection with others’.77 A relationship with others based on reciprocity and mutual recognition, then, is a prerequisite for recovery. As a survivor, Brison no longer identifies with her pre-trauma self that was annihilated by the violence of the extreme event. Only the recognition by people around her will make it possible for her to construct a new self, one that would account for both destruction and survival. ‘Since the earlier self died,’ Brison explains, ‘the surviving self needs to be known and acknowledged in order to exist’.78

The recognition of the surviving self takes place through the act of bearing witness, which, as Brison defines it, is ‘a communicative act’.79 The survivor must revisit the site of trauma in memory in order to narrate the event to the empathetic listener. The act of bearing witness brings the survivor and a listener together, relieving the acuity of the survivor’s estrangement. The reciprocity between the self and an other that trauma shattered can be restored. In the act of bearing witness, the victim is able to address an other who is willing and ready to hear and answer her call. Whereas during the traumatic event ‘one cannot turn to a ‘you’ [and thus] one cannot say ‘thou’ even to oneself’ the listener’s belated presence grants recognition and acknowledgement to the surviving self.80

Aftermath recounts a wide range of contexts in which Brison is called upon to testify to her attack and her first testimony takes place in the days after the rape. Brison assuages the concern of the apologetic hospital and police personnel in whose care she finds herself shortly after the rape by explaining that having to answer their questioning about the details of the attack lessens the intensity of her flashbacks. Rather than feeling forced to relive the trauma, she finds it ‘therapeutic to bear witness in the presence of others who heard and believed what I told them’.81 In the presence of those who will hear what she has to say, Brison may step out of the objectifying silence to which the violence has reduced her. Bearing witness thus re-introduces mutuality into the victim’s relationship with others. To the extent that testifying relies on a contract between the listeners and the survivor, as Dori Laub argues,the act of bearing witness reintegrates the survivor into the community of others and restores the social compact that has been violated by the traumatic event.82

The contractual and communal nature of bearing witness is further reflected in its communicative and interactive aspect. Brison is well aware that out of consideration for her listeners she was continually modifying the scope and length of her testimony:

My narrative varied as it was told to the farmer and his family, then to a police 
officer, a doctor, and the ambulance personnel, and later, at the hospital, to Tom, more doctors, a psychiatrists, some gendarmes, my parents, a friend, another friend, then another. My story was shaped by what the listener needed to know more urgently.83

As they accommodate her audience’s needs and interests, the multiple versions of Brison’s story of the attack underscore Dori Laub’s observation that ‘Testimonies are not monologues; they cannot take place in solitude’.84 The listener’s role is not limited to that of an addressee. Instead, Brison points out, his or her ‘interest in the story provided the prompts, the questions, the responses, which, in turn, shaped the story’.85 Brison is not alone in the telling of her brutal ordeal because by their presence and inputs her listeners co-create her story with her. In addition, the others’ company is a guarantee of a safe return from the site of trauma Brison revisits through the act of bearing witness.

Two years after her rape Brison literally returns to the site of trauma. She goes back to France, where the attack took place, in order to testify at the assailant’s trial. Certain that the man who attacked her will be sentenced for her assault, she is nevertheless relieved to see armed guards escorting him into the courtroom.86 As she steps up onto the witness stand ready to testify, suddenly apprehensive, Brison finds the guards’ presence reassuring and comforting. ‘[T]he uniforms, the guns, the judge’s robes, the jurors in the precisely placed seats,’ Brison comments, are ‘the signs of law and order, of decorum, of “civilization,” that had vanished during my assault’.87 The present setting does not replicate the circumstances of the traumatic encounter; in fact, it effectively counteracts them and thus makes Brison’s testimony possible. She is the one who speaks out; her attacker is bound to remain silent. Moreover, she no longer has to confront the violence alone, without recourse to help from another. Defenceless and helpless during the assault, Brison is now under the care and protection of the court authorities. The traumatic event cast her ‘outside the human community’,88 whereas bearing witness brings her back to its centre.

Yet, at the same time as the presence of others who are ready to hear it enables and encourages Brison’s court testimony, her narrative must follow and fit within the legal conventions. At the trial, Brison comments, ‘The props were all in place for me to tell my story’.89 The court setting and customary legal procedures determine how Brison may bear witness to her attack. Because a victim’s testimony bears the double burden of accusation and evidence, ‘most cases of sexual assault come down to the word of one person against that of another’.90 Reflective of the dynamic, the courtroom protocol consists of two distinct questioning phases, evidence-in-chief and cross-examination; while the former seeks to establish facts and credibility of the victim’s account, the latter aims to undermine both.91 In effect, as Linda M. Alcoff and Laura Grey argue, a rape survivor’s testimony is a discursive event reflective of ‘the structural arrangements’ shaping the context in which bearing witness it takes place.92 Similarly, the philosopher Laura Hengehold notes that in the legal context rape survivors have ‘little opportunity to acknowledge her own interpretive contribution the definition of her assault qua ‘trauma’ or injustice’.93 Since Brison’s testimony also has a specific aim, the attacker’s incrimination, she must present and tell her story of the rape in a way that conforms to legal conventions and allows ‘justice to be done’.94 Her original narrative, Brison realizes, has been transformed as a result of her interactions with the French authorities: ‘things (including the ‘official story’) were being rigged from the start, in order to get my assailant convicted. Some things were left out and others (such as the description of me as ‘sportive’) were added to my narrative by the officer to make it more convincing’.95 These modifications seek to establish Brison’s credibility as a victim. Committed to ensuring the attacker’s rightful conviction, the police and lawyers appropriate her account of the event by adapting it so that it follows the rape script, according to which the male assailant is guilty only to the extent that his female victim can be proven to be blameless.96 The impact of Brison’s testimony, then, hinges on her ability to present herself as ‘the ‘worthy victim’ who cannot be construed as contributing to her assault or provoking the rapist in any way’.97 Mardorossian points out that the reliance on ‘the juxtaposition of the degree of aggression of the rapist with the level of innocence of the victim, necessarily obscures the fact that a victim cannot be more or less innocent of a crime she did not commit’.98 Despite the paradoxical premise, it is Brison who must convince the judge and jury that her assailant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The physical evidence supports Brison’s version of the event, and the defendant has been identified as the perpetrator, but his lawyer deflects his client’s obvious culpability by invoking insanity plea.99 The burden to refute it rests solely with Brison who was ‘the only one who knew how he’d behaved’ at the time.100 ‘I wanted the court to get it right,’ she remembers, ‘especially the part about my assailant’s mental state at the time’.101 Like the demands for her story’s adherence to the standard rape narrative, the pressure to prove the attacker’s sanity constraints Brison’s testimony, which must establish the man’s guilt above all else.

Rape trial proceedings presuppose, or even require, that the traumatized victim has already been able to overcome the bodily and psychological crisis in which her rape resulted.102 Brison writes that the pressure to ‘keep the story straight’ disregarded and thus added to the anguish and confusion she was continuing to experience in her rape’s aftermath.103 In order to be able to present her testimony in a way that makes her witness credible and her accusation unassailable, she intently held on to details, repeatedly remembered the early narrative, and even practised delivering it in court.104 All the efforts to keep the event alive in her mind were effectively preserving the state of ‘heightened lucidity’ and unrelenting vigilance she experienced as the attack was taking place.105 ‘[T]he requirement for truth,’ then, binds the survivor to the scene of extreme violence to which she must continue to return in memory.106

Brison is free to ‘leave at least some of the horror behind’ only after her testimony is heard and acknowledged.107 When the judge announces the verdict charging her attacker guilty with rape and attempted murder, she experiences an immediate physical release: ‘my body was shaking, wracked with sobs, although I didn’t really feel anything but a sudden unclenching’.108 Her factually accurate and consistent testimony has now become a part of the body of collected evidence on which her case and trial were based. Since she is no longer required to keep her memory of the attack intact and unchanging so that all the details come together in a convincing and believable narrative, she can begin to reflect on, not just recall, the event. Being able to ‘let down my guard, get fuzzy about the particulars,’ Brison writes, enables her ‘in a sense, [to] forget what had happened to me. Now I could afford to think about it’.109 Her memory is no longer to be merely preserved; it can now be actively engaged. Instead of taking her back to it, now remembering makes it possible for her to return from the site trauma.

Consequently, Brison distinguishes between the descriptive and transformative, or healing, aspects of any single trauma testimony.110 Relying on her ability to recall in detail the events ‘as they occurred,’ the victim’s report establishes historical facts.111 The descriptive aspect of testimony takes precedence in the legal context, which requires that the survivor’s testimony is ‘as close to a snapshot as possible—a story unmediated and unchanging—from the perspective of a detached, objective observer’.112 In turn, testimony’s transformative potential lets the survivor work through her memories of trauma as she narrates her story without the pressure to ‘get it straight’.113 Since the survivor is not constrained to just report what happened, she can reconceptualize and reevaluate the significance and meaning of the event. Importantly, such reflective engagement facilitates the survivor’s recovery by encouraging the integration of traumatic memories into her ongoing life narrative.

The shift from testimony’s descriptive function to its transformative potential brings about a change in the very motivation for ‘the imperative to tell and be heard,’ as Dori Laub calls trauma survivors’ compulsion to articulate their experience.114 Brison also differentiates between living to tell and telling to live, ‘that is between getting (and keeping) the story right in order to bear witness and being able to rewrite the story in ways that enable the survivor to go on with her life’.115 While the former enables justice to be done, the latter can do justice to the survivor’s experience insofar as it openly acknowledges the irreparable harm and creatively strives to transcend the limits trauma has so violently imposed.116 Central to the survivor’s survival and recovery, living to tell and telling to live do not as much contradict each other as they reveal a tension between the distinct narrative function each of them serves.117 By emphasizing ‘one rigid version of the past’ and thus placing lesser importance on the survivor’s present, Brison argues, living to tell may stall recovery.118 As the survivor bears witness to what happened to her, she is looking back, not forward. In telling to live, on the other hand, retrospectively oriented memories enable and promote prospective remembering. Telling to live, Brison explains, is:

[…] a kind of letting go, playing with the past in order not to be held back as one springs away from it. After gaining enough control over the story to be able to tell it, perhaps one has to give it up, in order to retell it, without having to ‘get it right,’ without fear of betraying it, to be able to rewrite the past in different ways, leading up to an infinite variety of unforeseeable futures.119

Through telling to live the future trauma foreclosed can be opened up. Not limited to factual reconstruction, the retelling invites the survivor’s interpretation and reflection, it also accounts for the aftermath in which the survivor continues to confront trauma’s effects at the same time as she seeks to accord new meanings to the event. Telling to live, then, at once reckons with and counteracts the obliterating violence of the traumatic event.

The reparative potential of retelling fits in with Brison’s understanding of trauma as a forceful introduction of a ‘surd’ into the victim’s life. In its mathematical sense, a surd is a nonsensical entry, which interrupts ‘the series of events in one’s life, making it seem impossible to carry on with the series’.120 Before the attack, Brison took it for granted that her present would extend into a future; even though she could not accurately predict what would happen to her, she could imagine, or envision, certain aspects of what awaited her.121 The attack, however, shattered Brison’s assumption that her life would continue to unfold in a way that would give it coherence and meaning. Similarly, she could no longer discern any recognizable and reassuring pattern when recalling her life prior to the attack. It became impossible for Brison to depend on ‘a remembered and ongoing narrative about [her]self’ to make sense of her life.122 Since the trusted and familiar narratives—about who she was, about what her life stood for and about what she could expect from her future—turned out to be irreconcilable with trauma, her interpretive framework suddenly disintegrated.

Whereas the mathematical definition of a surd focuses on trauma’s intrusive and disruptive effects, its linguistic definition, ‘a voiceless sound or a sound dampened or deadened by a mute,’ highlights another aspect of extreme violence.123 The trauma victim ‘has been reduced to silence, to the status of an object, or, worse, made into someone else’s speech, an instrument of another’s agency’.124 Forced silencing prevents the victim from being able to assume the position of a subject; rendered voiceless, she must submit to the imposition of the perpetrator’s will. Feeling that her survival depends on her ability to communicate with her attacker, Brison attempts to talk to him during the assault.125 Her pleas do not assuage the violence, however, and the man walks away only after Brison falls silent and pretends to be dead. In the attack’s aftermath, Brison’s ability to speak remains compromised: ‘I lost my voice, literally, when I lost my ability to continue my life’s narrative. I was never entirely mute, but I often had bouts of what a friend labelled ‘fractured speech’’.126 Preventing Brison from being able ‘to string together a simple sentence without the words scattering like a broken necklace,’ stuttering and stammering are the lingering effects of the traumatic encounter.127 While Brison gradually regains the ability to speak in English, she has permanently lost her fluency in French, the language in which she addressed her assailant.128 The thrilling sense of freedom and adventure Brison always felt when speaking French is gone as well. Overpowered by the force of the traumatic violence, Brison loses the ability to exercise her self-competence; the concomitant loss of voice, or worse, of an entire language, manifests and exacerbates this loss.

It is only through narrative retelling, or telling to live, Brison suggests, that the survivor can effectively work through the crisis a surd, in its double mathematical and linguistic sense, introduces. After the traumatic event dismantles the comforting illusion of life’s predictability, retelling makes it possible for the survivor to invent a new self and discover a new meaning for her life. In addition, as the survivor commits herself to the project of telling to live, she is able to reassert her subjectivity and resume agency through the verbal articulation of her experience. ‘Narrative,’ Brison explains:

facilitates the ability to go on by opening up possibilities for the future through retelling the stories of the past. It does this not by reestablishing the illusions of coherence of the past, control over the present, and predictability of the future, but by making it possible to carry on without these illusions.129

The survivor who retells her life story, which now necessarily includes the traumatic event, has to abandon traditional storytelling paradigms because they fail to account for the disruption trauma introduces. The question she confronts, then, is not whether or not to tell, but how to tell her story.

Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self, to which Brison refers to as ‘a record of my thinking about trauma and recovery over the past ten years,’ represents her efforts to retell the story of her assault in a format that admits, without seeking to seal it off, the traumatic rupture.130 Brison’s own experience informs and inflects, but does not exhaust, her discussion of trauma and its aftermath. A philosopher by training, she deems the conventions of intellectual inquiry her discipline embraces unsuitable for the task at hand. When, in search of an alternative model, Brison turns to survivors’ memoirs, she is disconcerted by their tendency to depoliticize and privatize rape and trauma. Uncontainable within the intellectual and narrative frameworks readily available to her, her own story, Brison realizes, must be told differently. It is through ‘[t]heorizing in the personal voice,’ the approach Brison eventually adopts, that she can most effectively address the complexity of her experience.131 Accordingly, she thinks and writes about her assault and its aftermath in the context of philosophical, ethical, and political issues they have raised. Unlike narrative scripts that emphasize analysis over experience, or vice versa, Aftermath seeks to integrate both of them. In that regard, Brison’s memoir answers Alcoff and Gray’s call for subversive and transformative personal narratives in which rape ‘survivors are authorized to be both witnesses and experts, both reporters of experience and theorists of experience’.132

Both a survivor and a theorist of trauma, Brison sees her assault’s narrative retelling as an ongoing and open-ended undertaking.133 Its purpose, she argues, is not limited to the reconstruction of the traumatic event and the restoration of order in her life. Since, as Brison puts it, ‘[t]he past continually changes as new parts of the pattern of one’s life emerge,’ retelling is a necessarily revisionary project; it encourages the survivor to critically re-evaluate the interpretive framework in which her own life story has been contained.134 Fittingly, as a narrative retelling of her attack, Aftermath registers Brison’s evolving understanding of trauma, aftermath and recovery. Initially, she embraces the view that the traumatic event shatters the victim’s self because it violently undoes her ‘remembered and ongoing narrative about oneself’.135 The survivor’s recovery, then, depends on a gradual integration of the trauma into her life story. In light of Brison’s subsequent proposition that the extreme event inserts a surd, or a nonsensical entry, into the fairly predictable sequence of events in one’s life, the greatest challenge confronting the survivor is carrying on with her life despite the disruption.136  Later on, Brison revises these earlier theories. ‘Recovery,’ she reflects, ‘no longer seems to consist of picking up the pieces of a shattered self (or fractured narrative). It’s facing the fact that there never was a coherent self (or story) there to begin with’.137 Retelling, then, does not ultimately restore the worldview trauma has shattered. Brison no longer conceptualizes the goal of her recovery as an arduous, but possible nonetheless, return to the sustaining certainties and beliefs she had held prior to the attack. Rather, her new understanding of trauma and its aftermath stresses the importance of the survivor’s ability to make meaning of events beyond her direct influence. Without conflating the inability to act with passivity, Brison extends the notion of agency so that it is no longer narrowly predicated on a person’s ability to control what happens in his or her life. As she puts it, ‘life is a story in the telling, in the retelling, and […] one can have some control over that’.138 Even when her self-assertion was once impossible, the trauma survivor can have some power over how she comes to interpret and make sense of the event over time.

Involving the survivor’s revision and reinterpretation, narrative retelling allows for the re-externalization of trauma and thus reverses the directionality of the original force of the traumatic event. In cases of human inflicted trauma, such as Brison’s attack, the perpetrator’s violence is directed towards the victim who cannot retaliate but must turn inward instead. Turned in, the traumatic violence breaks the ego’s protective barriers and shatters the victim’s psychic integrity, which cannot be restored unless the crisis has been re-externalized.139 Acts of testimony constitute the victim’s belated retaliation to the original violence insofar as it transforms the internal crisis into a narrative that articulates and verbalizes the survivor’s response to the traumatic event. Importantly, at the same time, the re-externalization of trauma also counteracts the obliteration and silencing of the victim’s self. Yet, Brison cautions, the survivor’s retelling can never be a redemptive narrative with a satisfying ending.140 It cannot, after all, undo the effects of trauma even as it sets out to redress them. The recuperated agency and voice belong to the surviving self, not the self-trauma shattered. Testifying to the attack, the survivor always bears witness to the self she has lost. Even though narrative retellings, or the repeated revisiting of the extreme event, allow the survivor to establish her present distance from it, they also reveal that the site of trauma must remain a point of no return.

In the essay she wrote five years after the publication of Aftermath and seventeen years after the attack took place, ‘Everyday Atrocities and Ordinary Miracles, or Why I (Still) Bear Witness to Sexual Violence (But Not Too Often)’ (2008), Brison narrates her story once again.141 Another retelling of the attack, this recent essay reads like a palinode, a simultaneous return to and a departure from her earlier characterization and understanding of the assault’s impact on her life. Just as she does in her memoir, Brison emphasizes the continued importance of testifying to her experience of sexual violence. She notes, however, that her reasons for doing so have changed dramatically in the past few years. Bearing witness in public is not therapeutic for her anymore. As Brison puts it, she has moved on and ‘moved beyond’ both living to tell and telling to live.142 The story of her rape, she reflects, ‘has got shorter and less central to my life’s narrative, until I now no longer need to tell it at all’.143 The assault has ceased to figure as the central experience of her life. Its importance has receded so much so that Brison does not even consider sharing her story with people who are becoming her new friends, they do not need to be told about it in order to know and understand who she is.144 If she does engage in yet another retelling, Brison does so because while she is testifying to her individual trauma she is also ‘bearing witness to something much larger, and much worse, than what happened to me personally: namely, the atrocity of widespread and ongoing gender-based violence against women around the world’.145 Brison’s own rape motivates her public acts of witness, but the experiences of other women are its focus: ‘I must tell the word about sexual violence—not because it happened to me, but because it happens to so many other women’.146 Brison’s story continues to matter precisely because it can, all too easily, become another woman’s story.

In addition to explicating the ways in which Brison’s public acts of witness realize her ongoing commitment to speaking against sexual violence in general, ‘Everyday Atrocities and Ordinary Miracles, or Why I (Still) Bear Witness to Sexual Violence (But Not Too Often)’ also retells the story of the attack’s aftermath. Referring to a passage from Aftermath, in which she talks about having to take leave of her earlier self so that she might survive, Brison retracts that original statement.147 She admits that ‘In spite of my having written, years ago, that I died in that ravine, I now have more in common with my pre assault self than with the person I became for more than a decade afterward.’148 Even though she continues to confront the trauma’s lingering effects, such as susceptibility to depression, the fear of enclosed spaces, and the loss of the ability to enjoy solitary walks in the woods, Brison insists: ‘I have regained my lost self’.149 Recovery, after all, she suggests, is not just about being able to go on, it is, ultimately, about being able to go back to who you were before the unthinkable happened. The essay’s conclusion reinforces Brison’s revised idea of recovery from trauma as a return to the life the extreme event violently interrupted. After she assures her readers that she is ‘no longer in the story’ and has ‘walked out of the picture,’ she discloses her present location: ‘I’m sitting at my piano, with a few good friends, making a joyful noise’.150 The imagery invokes—and rewrites–the opening scene of Aftermath. She is not alone. Her song is not cut short; it is, in fact, amplified by the voices of those who will do her no harm.


  1. Susan J. Brison, Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002).
  2. Ibid, p. 2.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid, p. IX.
  7. Susan J. Brison, ‘Everyday Atrocities and Ordinary Miracles, or Why I (Still) Bear Witness to Sexual Violence (But Not Too Often)’, WSQ, 36.1 & 2 (2008), pp. 188-98.
  8. Sharon Marcus, ‘Fighting Bodies, Fighting Words: A Theory and Politics of Rape Prevention’, in Feminists Theorize the Political, ed. by Judith Butler and Joan W. Scott (New York: Routledge, 1992), p. 388.
  9. Ibid, p. 388.
  10. Ibid, p. 390.
  11. Ibid, p. 391.
  12. Brison, Aftermath, p. 86.
  13. Ibid, p. 87.
  14. Ibid, p. 86.
  15. Ibid, p. 88.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Marcus, p. 391.
  19. Brison, Aftermath, p. 88.
  20. Ibid, p. 89.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Carine M. Mardorossian, Framing the Rape Victim: Gender and Agency Reconsidered (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2014), p.35.
  24. Ibid, p.56.
  25. Joanna Bourke, Rape: A History from 1860 to the Present Day (London: Virago, 2007), p. 7.
  26. Kathryn Robson, ‘Spaces of Violation: Refiguring Rape in Contemporary French Women’s Fiction’, Romance Studies: A Journal of the University of Wales, 25.1 (2007), 57-67, (p. 57).
  27. Linda M. Alcoff, Rape and Resistance: Understanding the Complexities of Sexual Violation (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Polity Press, 2018), p. 12.
  28. Marcus, p. 398.
  29. Ibid, p. 399.
  30. Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape (New York: Simon and Schuster1975).
  31. Ibid, p. 186.
  32. Marcus, p. 399.
  33. Michael Planty and others, Female Victims of Sexual Violence, 1994-2010: Special Report (Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013).
  34. Ibid, p. 4.
  35. Brison, Aftermath, p. 9.
  36. Ibid.
  37. The French authorities, who respond to Brison’s attack, also operate under the assumption that a woman could be held accountable for her rape under certain circumstances. Brison’s status as a blameless victim is not questioned and the brutality of her rape is immediately credible precisely because the attack happened in a ‘safe place’ (Aftermath, p. 7).
  38. Ibid, p. 18.
  39. Ibid, p. 61.
  40. Ibid, p. 14.
  41. Ibid, p. 61.
  42. Ibid, p. 19.
  43. Marcus, p. 399.
  44. Judith L. Herman, Trauma and Recovery (New York: Basic Books, 1992), p. 33.
  45. Janice Haaken, Pillar of Salt: Gender, Memory, and the Perils of Looking Back (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1998), p. 68.
  46. Herman, p. 50.
  47. Cathy Caruth, Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), p. 72. Similarly, Judith Herman talks about ‘the dialectic of trauma’ (p. 47). In the event’s aftermath, the survivor continues to oscillate between two opposing psychological states, intrusion and constriction. Paradoxically, even as the ongoing ‘alternation between these two extreme states might be understood as an attempt to find a satisfactory balance between them,’ it perpetuates rather than relieves instability (p. 47).
  48. Brison, Aftermath, p. 21.
  49. Ibid, p. x.
  50. Ibid, p. 26.
  51. Ibid, p. 13.
  52. Ibid, p. 9.
  53. Ibid, p. x.
  54. Ibid, p. 69.
  55. Ibid, p. 45.
  56. Roberta Culbertson, ‘Embodied Memory, Transcendence, and Telling: Recounting Trauma, Re-establishing the Self’, New Literary History, 26, (1995), 169-95 (p. 170).
  57. Cathy Caruth, ‘Introduction’, in Trauma: Explorations in Memory, ed. by Cathy Caruth (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), p. 10.
  58. Caruth, Unclaimed, p. 7.
  59. Ibid, p. 16.
  60. Ibid, p. 63.
  61. Brison, Aftermath, p. x.
  62. Ibid, p. 21.
  63. Ibid, p. 9.
  64. Ibid, p. 11.
  65. Ibid.
  66. Ibid, p.10.
  67. Ibid, p. 35.
  68. Ibid, p.112.
  69. Ibid, p. 15.
  70. Because her attack was motivated by her gender, Brison refers to her assault, and rape in general, as ‘a gender-motivated bias crime’ (Aftermath, p. 89). She considers her attack to be ‘both random—and thus completely unpredictable—and not random, that is, a crime of hatred toward the group to which you happen to belong’ (Aftermath, p. 13). Had she herself been spared the violence, another woman following in her footsteps would have been raped. Accordingly, Brison talks about rape’s effects as ‘group-based trauma’ (Aftermath, p. 94).
  71. Herman, p. 50.
  72. Ibid, p. 53.
  73. Brison, Aftermath, p. 40.
  74. Dori Laub, ‘An Event Without a Witness: Truth, Testimony and Survival’, In Testimony. Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History, ed. by Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub (New York: Routledge, 1992), 75-92 (p. 82).
  75. Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (London and New York: Verso, 2004), p. 29.
  76. Herman, p. 73.
  77. Brison, Aftermath, p. xi.
  78. Ibid, p. 62.
  79. Ibid, p. xi.
  80. Laub, ‘An Event’, p. 82.
  81. Brison, Aftermath, p. 54.
  82. Dori Laub, ‘Bearing Witness, or the Vicissitudes of Listening’, in Testimony. Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History, ed. by Felman, Shoshana and Dori Laub (New York: Routledge, 1992), 57-74 (p. 72). Dori Laub writes that in the act of bearing witness the survivor and the listener are mutually bound by ‘“the contract of testimony,’ ”which specifies their responsibilities to one another (‘“Bearing Witness’,” p.72).
  83. Brison, Aftermath, p. 106.
  84. Laub, ‘Bearing Witness’, pp. 70-1.
  85. Brison, Aftermath, p. 106.
  86. Ibid, p. 105.
  87. Ibid.
  88. Ibid, p. x.
  89. Ibid, p. 105.
  90. Andy Kaladelfos, Nina Westera, and Rachel Zajac ‘Sexual Assault Complainants on the Stand: A Historical Comparison of Courtroom Questioning’, Psychology, Crime & Law 23.1, (2017), 15-31 (p. 15).
  91. Ibid, p. 18.
  92. Linda M. Alcoff and Laura Grey, ‘Survivor Discourse: Transgression or Recuperation’, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 18.2, (1993), 260-290 (p. 265).
  93. Laura Hengehold, ‘Remapping the Event: Institutional Discourses and the Trauma of Rape’, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 26, (2000), 189-214 (p. 200).
  94. Brison, Aftermath, p. 107.
  95. Ibid, p. 107.
  96. Brison is surprised to notice that her official deposition starts with ‘Since I am athletic’, a phrase that has been inserted by the officer who transcribed her testimony. This detail, she realizes, is added as a reasonable, and thus unobjectionable, justification of her solitary outing on the morning she was raped. Similarly, she is praised for mentioning her husband ‘since my assailant, who had confessed to the sexual assault, was claiming I had provoked it’ (Aftermath, p. 7).
  97. Hengehold, p. 198.
  98. Mardorossian, Framing the Rape Victim, p. 52.
  99. Brison, Aftermath, p. 108.
  100. Ibid, p. 106.
  101. Ibid, p. 109.
  102. Hengehold, p. 198.
  103. Brison, Aftermath, p. 108.
  104. Ibid.
  105. Ibid, p. 109.
  106. Ibid.
  107. Ibid, p. 108.
  108. Ibid.
  109. Ibid, pp. 108-9.
  110. Brison’s reflections on the enabling potential of narrating—orally or in writing–the traumatic experience point to some of the therapeutic benefits of scriptotherapy, Suzette Henke’s term referring to ‘the process of writing out and writing through traumatic experience in the mode of therapeutic reenactment’ (p. xiii). Suzette A. Henke, Shattered Subjects: Trauma and Testimony in Women’s Life-Writing (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998).
  111. Brison, Aftermath, p. 72.
  112. Ibid, p. 109.
  113. Ibid, p. 72.
  114. Laub, ‘An Event’, p. 78.
  115. Brison, Aftermath, p. xii. Similarly, reflecting on his work with Holocaust survivors, Laub also links survival with the telling of a trauma narrative: ‘The survivors did not only need to survive so that they could tell their story; they also needed to tell their story in order to survive’ (‘An Event’, p.78).
  116. My distinction draws from the insights of Brison and Hengehold, respectively. While Brison recognizes that her court testimony has to be shaped in a specific way so as to ‘enable justice to be done’ (Aftermath, p. 7), Hengehold argues that the legal setting precludes the survivor from being able to testify in a way that would ‘do justice’ to the incompleteness of her own evolving sexual and self-understanding and her desire to perceive herself throughout its evolution as an agent with legitimate desires and the power to satisfy them’ (Aftermath, p. 193).
  117. Following Judith Herman, Brison identifies the following as the key tasks trauma survivor must complete in order to recover as follows: repossessing self-control, forming a narrative of the traumatic event and assimilating it into one’s life (Aftermath, p. 103).
  118. Brison, Aftermath, p. 103.
  119. Ibid.
  120. Ibid.
  121. Ibid, pp. 103-4.
  122. Ibid, p. 49.
  123. Ibid, p. 103.
  124. Ibid, p. 55.
  125. Ibid, pp. 88 – 89.
  126. Ibid, p. 114.
  127. Ibid.
  128. Ibid, p. 115. The connection between trauma and speech manifests itself again when Brison reacts to the news about her brother’s suicide by becoming voiceless (p. 114).
  129. Ibid, p. 104.
  130. Ibid, p. xi.
  131. Ibid, p. 29.
  132. Alcoff and Gray, p. 282.
  133. Brison, Aftermath, p. 111.
  134. Ibid.
  135. Ibid, p. 48.
  136. Ibid, pp. 103-4.
  137. Ibid, p. 116.
  138. Ibid, p. 115.
  139. Laub, ‘Bearing Witness’, p. 69.
  140. Brison, Aftermath, p. 117.
  141. Susan J. Brison, ‘Everyday’, pp.188-98.
  142. Brison, ‘Everyday’, p. 195.
  143. Ibid.
  144. Ibid.
  145. Ibid, p. 188.
  146. Ibid, p. 192.
  147. Brison, Aftermath, p. 22.
  148. Brison, ‘Everyday’, pp. 188-89.
  149. Ibid, p. 195.
  150. Ibid, p. 197.