5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Jamie Fessenden, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Taz

Review: Violated by Jamie Fessenden

Title: Violated

Author: Jamie Fessenden

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count:  256 Pages

At a Glance: I had no idea how Mr. Fessenden would handle this sensitive topic, and was impressed by the testimony he portrays through this story.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: Derek Sawyer thinks he has it all—a high-salaried position, a boyfriend, a dog, even a new cabin on the lake—until a business trip with his manager and best friend, Victor, shatters his world.

One night of drunken horsing around in their hotel room leads to the most intensely personal violation Derek has ever endured. As if the humiliation of working under his attacker every day isn’t enough, Victor reports Derek for sexual harassment. Now he’s without a job, without a boyfriend, and the mortgage on the cabin is due.

Officer Russ Thomas has worked with rape victims before, and it doesn’t take him long to sort out the truth in Derek’s tale. With his support, Derek finally reports the crime, months after it happened. But restraining orders and lawyers further Victor’s anger toward him, and even though a relationship develops between Derek and the policeman, Russ can’t be there to protect him all the time.

Dividers

Review: WARNING: This book deals with rape, both the experience and the aftermath. This review may serve as a trigger for some people, so please proceed with caution. ~ TAZ

Violated is a sensitive and vivid portrayal of the impact a rape has on a person, with a particular focus on a male being raped. When I read the description of this book, I felt immediately compelled to read it. On the one hand, rape is one of those topics that is usually banned as part of submission guidelines. Of course, that is rape depicted gratuitously (whatever that means). The subject matter itself is permissible, but still taboo.

I had no idea how Mr. Fessenden would handle this sensitive topic, and was impressed by the testimony he portrays through this story. The first chunk of the book established the main characters and their relationships to one another. I had wondered whether the author would’ve chosen to begin the story where the rape had already occurred. This was not the case. Once we meet the characters, we experience the rape, rather graphically, from the point of view of our protagonist victim, Derek. While highly disturbing and difficult to read, it was clear Mr. Fessenden had researched the experiences of men who had been raped. The honesty of the physical experience was described, but moving forward, the book focused on the emotional damage as the protagonist struggles to regain his shattered sense of self-control and power.

And that was what made this story a brave and important read. I don’t know of anyone who has admitted being raped to me, and therefore I have no first-hand knowledge of what the experience is like after the fact. In reading Violated, I feel like I have a better understanding of the multi-faceted and deeply rooted injuries (both physical and emotional) that impact the victim, making recovery an uphill battle.

The author also chose not to over-dramatize the events following the rape, in terms of dealing with filing charges, giving testimony, facing the possibility of plea bargains, and the continued threat of physical violence. Derek had a very real set of concerns for his own safety and how others would view him, and the author provides a believable portrayal of the inner thoughts and worries. But the most disturbing and beautifully portrayed element of Derek’s suffering is the betrayals he endured from people who were supposed to be there for him, no matter what. I can’t even imagine how a victim of rape can heal when even the people they are supposed to trust the most aren’t able to provide appropriate support.

The other protagonist, Russ, was an amazing man. I appreciated that there was a preface that explained that the author had spoken to officers to learn about procedure, and then took some liberties to suit the love interest in the story. While there was clearly a conflict of interest with Russ having any involvement in the activities surrounding the investigation into Derek’s rape, I was prepared for this when it happened.

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You can buy Violated here:

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