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Lacy Crawford’s ‘Notes on a Silencing’ memoir chronicles her experience as sexual assault survivor

Lacy Crawford’s ‘Notes on a Silencing’ memoir chronicles her experience as sexual assault survivor

Lacy Crawford’s ‘Notes on a Silencing’ memoir chronicles her experience as sexual assault survivor
July 26
12:01 2020

Content Warning: sexual assault, rape

“First, they refused to believe me. Then they shamed me. Then they silenced me.”

“Notes on a Silencing: a Memoir” by Lacy Crawford details her time and experience at the prestigious private boarding school, St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H. The memoir recounts her sexual assault at the hands of two 18-year-old upperclassmen when she was 15 and how St. Paul’s covered up the assault and shamed her. Crawford describes how this event affected her in the years during and after her time at the school.

Crawford’s memoir gives readers an intimate account of everything she endured during her years at St. Paul’s. Eventually, it discusses the case opened against St. Paul’s School in 2016 regarding the 2015 assault of Chessy Prout by Owen Labrie. This case would uncover years of the school covering up assault cases to maintain their prestigious reputation.

Crawford tells of her feelings of isolation during her first year at the school. As soon as she had established her confidence, it all left after her sexual assault, and how she silently shamed herself and struggled to “blend in” after St. Paul’s threatened her with silence to cover up the assault.

“The simplest way I can tell the story of my assault is to describe how the boys made me feel I was no longer a person,” she said in the memoir.

On a late night in October of 1990, Crawford was called by a former classmate under the guise that his mom was sick, and he was seeking solace and comfort. At St. Paul’s, a strict curfew blocks students from roaming campus late at night, but she took her chances to help whom she thought was a friend. When Crawford arrived, she quickly realized she had been set up by two classmates.

“I was too stunned to think ‘rape’ when I pleaded with them not to have sex with me, though rape, in the traditional sense, was precisely what I meant to avoid,” she said.

Crawford said she struggled to understand what had happened, and whether it really was rape or assault. She did not understand where her story “fit in.” She knew it was nonconsensual, she was underage, and that she was held down and forced. Twenty-five years later, she would learn her “label” and a list of all “labels” for assault cases.

“So, ‘assault,'” she said. “There are also ‘encounter,’ ‘incident,’ ‘event,’ ‘attack,’ ‘happening,’ ‘situation,’ ‘night in question,’ ‘time in that room.’ Little-known fact about victims: they can tell whether you believe them by which term you use when you ask what happened to them.”

After Crawford graduated from St. Paul’s School, she would not actively seek any news regarding the school and tried to leave it all behind, but rumors continued to follow her years after she graduated.

“Notes on a Silencing” can be a challenging read due to the nature of the topic, but Crawford’s candor and honesty make the memoir a must-read. She describes the many feelings of survivors of assault and the shame they place on themselves. Her writing provides a haven to those who have experienced similar situations and educates others on the effects of silencing assault survivors. Crawford’s ability to convey her vulnerability in every word makes this memoir and Crawford stand out. The memoir excellently combines Crawford’s story with a discussion of the #MeToo era. Crawford got her long-awaited justice for her years of being silenced.

Final rating: 5/5

Featured image: Courtesy Los Angeles Times

About Author

Isabella Serrano

Isabella Serrano

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