Photo by Faith Guzman

Photo by Faith Guzman

Lived Through This: Listening to the Stories of Sexual Violence Survivors by Anne K. Ream

Book review by Kylla Lanier, TAT Deputy Director


It’s been said that everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud. When something is spoken, it becomes more real, and to the speaker, the words can transform, release, and empower them to move past even the most unspeakable things.


Lived Through This: Listening to the Stories of Sexual Violence Survivors is an exceptional example of how the owning of one’s worst experiences by telling his/her own story is liberating for both the storyteller and reader.


Anne Ream, the author of this book and the founder of The Voices and Faces Project, begins by first sharing about her own rape, trial and healing. Other survivors of sexual violence share their stories throughout, and while you feel their pain and wince at the brutality of the violence they suffered, you are not left with a sense of hopelessness. On the contrary, the reader is filled with hope, for you do not read about victims, but survivors. Survivors who have gone on to have fulfilling and successful careers, others who have poured their lives into helping others who have suffered the same types of violence, have fallen in love, started their own families … those who inspire others by speaking publicly.


Being perceived as weak, vulnerable, ruined, or someone to be pitied stops many survivors of sexual violence from sharing their story, even with those they are close to and certainly not with the public at large. This book, however, destroys these misconceptions. On its pages, you meet some of the strongest, bravest and most admirable souls. Their truth is empowering. They share where the system failed them and where it served them well. Rape culture and society’s unspoken judgments are examined and exposed. Questions are posed. The reader is challenged to envision a society that protects its citizens … young and old, male and female, weak and strong.


I recommend this book to anyone working with trafficking survivors, for those who have suffered sexual violence or know someone that has. Speaking the truth is powerful, but listening and absorbing can be just as transformational for both parties. When you read the last story and close the book, your heart and the innate desire for justice that resides in each of us will be awakened to help create a world safe and beautiful for all of its inhabitants.

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