‘Missoula’: A sexual assault story that ‘needs to be read’

(Selina Falcon/ The Collegian)

In 400 pages, Jon Krakauer investigates the college town of Missoula, Montana and a series of campus rapes that took place between 2010 and 2012. He documents the experiences of five victims and the aftermath of their assaults.

“Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town” is, without a doubt, one of those books that you read and instantly know will have a lasting impact on your life.

“Missoula” is split into six parts, the first being “Part One: Allison.”

In September 2010, Allison Huguet was raped by University of Montana’s Grizzlies running back and close childhood friend Beau Donaldson.

Part one details Missoula’s passion for football and its loyalty toward the Grizzlies, the before, during and immediate-after of Huguet’s rape, her post-traumatic stress and ultimately her journey toward reporting Donaldson to the police.

Interwoven into part one are introductions to other rape victims from the University of Montana, some of whom were also raped by members of the football team.

Throughout the next five parts of the book, the reader is presented with details of what the five victims had to go through physically, emotionally and legally.

What Krakauer is doing with “Missoula” is providing a case study. He uses Missoula as an example of the difficulty sexual assault victims in college towns across America have in reporting their assaults to their universities and/or local authorities.

He points out that the justice system may too often fail in sexual assault cases, often victim-blaming and letting rapists go free, which hinders victims from coming forward because they think there is no point in going through the added trauma.

“Missoula” is not an easy book to read, but it is absolutely one that needs to be read.

Krakauer has provided us with the harsh truth that rape is one of the most common crimes, college women are more often than not, the victims and it is common for victims to not report the crime to the authorities.

While Krakauer focuses on females assaulted by males, he does take time to provide examples and focus on the fact that there are men who are falsely accused of rape and who suffer ruinous consequences because of it.

He explores the seriousness of falsely accusing people of rape because not only can it harm an innocent person, but it adds to the stereotype that false rape allegations are a common occurrence, which only harms victims of rape and sexual abuse.

Krakauer looks at rape and the justice system through many lenses and has provided a well-written and important read on what that entails. He also provides hope in what can be a hopeless situation through his dedication toward sharing the story of the Missoula victims.

“Rapists rely on the silence of their victims to elude accountability. Simply by recounting their stories and breaking that silence, survivors of sexual assault strike a powerful blow against their assailants,” Krakauer said in the book.

The 24/7 National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline number is 1-800-656-4673.

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