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Crash Into Me: A Survivor's Search for Justice

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Overview

In September 2005, Liz Seccuro's world turned upside down when she received an apology letter from the man who had raped her twenty-two years earlier. The rape, which occurred when she was a seventeen-year-old freshman at the University of Virginia, was reported to the campus police, but their inquiry led nowhere. The man accused of raping her left the university soon after, and Seccuro tried to put the incident behind her, starting a business and a family, but like all ...

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Crash Into Me: A Survivor's Search for Justice

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Overview

In September 2005, Liz Seccuro's world turned upside down when she received an apology letter from the man who had raped her twenty-two years earlier. The rape, which occurred when she was a seventeen-year-old freshman at the University of Virginia, was reported to the campus police, but their inquiry led nowhere. The man accused of raping her left the university soon after, and Seccuro tried to put the incident behind her, starting a business and a family, but like all survivors of trauma, the memory was never far from the surface.

The letter brought it all back. Seccuro bravely began an e-mail correspondence with her rapist to try to understand what happened, and why. As the correspondence continued, Seccuro found the courage to do what should have been done all those years earlier-prosecute him. She began appearing on national television and radio to talk about the case. Several crime dramas and a John Grisham novel, The Associate, were based on her experience. She had found a way to end a terrible story, but once judicial proceedings began, she found that what she thought occurred at that UV A frat party was only the tip of the iceberg. The investigation revealed at least two other assailants, numerous onlookers, and a wall of silence among the fraternity members that persisted two decades later.

Liz Seccuro's inspiring, unflinching memoir is about experiencing terrible trauma-and the power of justice to heal.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The rape by William Beebe of University of Virginia freshman Seccuro at a 1984 fraternity party was only the beginning of a terrible ordeal. First, the local hospital didn't process rape kits and told her to drive to D.C. for help. Then, university officials insisted campus, rather than Richmond, police handle the crime and dismissed her with condescension. Twenty-one years later, Seccuro receives a letter from her rapist asking for forgiveness. Even though it brings on panic attacks, she writes back and presses charges. The legal battle and media attention only give Seccuro more resolve that her actions, however belated, are right, for herself and the victims of countless rapes that are never prosecuted, thus never giving them a chance for justice. The book includes a transcript of the preliminary hearing, with its shocking revelation of what Seccuro endured that night. This brave account reveals an alarming array of mishandling, poor judgment, and obfuscation or outright lies from university officials and from students at the party, and shines light on a systemic lack of concern and care given to rape victims. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"Riveting." -Caitlin Flanagan, Wall Street Journal

“Seccuro recalls a harrowing journey through memory and the realities of the legal process as she decided to stand up for herself and all rape victims even as others criticized her for not simply accepting the plea for forgiveness.” –Booklist

“This brave account reveals an alarming array of mishandling, poor judgment, and obfuscation or outright lies from university officials and from students at the party, and shines light on a systemic lack of concern and care given to rape victims.” –Publishers Weekly

 “[Crash Into Me] continually shifts between conjuring the ghosts of the past and combating the ghosts of the present... A thorough, intimate retelling of a tragic tale.” —Kirkus Reviews

Crash Into Me is a true story that reveals how the trials of rape victims continue far beyond the halls of justice. Every college, university, and high school should have this book on their library shelf.”—Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, coauthor of Picking Cotton

“Seccuro’s account of rape and its aftermath is a keen and personal portrayal of the long-lasting feelings of fear and isolation that many victims of sexual violence experience. Crash Into Me is a powerful account of how recovery from this crime is possible.”—RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

“I congratulate Liz for stepping up to the plate, naming names, and doing what she knew was the right thing to do. The legacy of this book will hopefully be the mustering of courage in sexual assault victims who will see the justice sought here by a lady who would not back down.”—Mickey Sherman, author of How Can You Defend Those People?

Crash Into Me stands out because of its precise attention to every detail, the quality of the writing, which makes you feel like you are sitting down talking with your best friend, and its intensely compelling indictment of the college administration. It is not only a substantial contribution to the scholarship on rape trauma, it is a must-read for everyone who cares about other people.”—John D. Foubert, Ph.D., author of The Men’s and Women’s Programs and national founder of One in Four

Crash Into Me is a powerful and troubling story about forgiveness and justice. Depicting the barriers to reporting a campus rape in the 1980s, it also offers a rare public window on a secret process of injustice, many aspects of which persist to this day at campuses across the country.” —S. Daniel Carter, Director of Public Policy, Security On Campus, Inc.

Library Journal - BookSmack!
Seccuro was raped at a University of Virginia fraternity party in 1984. In 2005, she received a written apology from her rapist and an invitation to communicate. This documents their correspondence and the surrounding emotional turmoil, as well as the ensuing investigation and legal events leading to a trial. Seccuro, now a victim's advocate, discovered that she'd had multiple attackers and spectators, and there was a fraternity-wide cover-up following the rape. Her story is by turns vivid, wrenching, and inspiring.What I'm Telling My Friends I'm not a fan of the phrase "I couldn't put this book down." But once I set eye to paper, I stopped reading Crash only to sleep and snatched it up as soon as I awoke. This is an astounding story of an incredibly brave and resilient woman; I am simply in awe. Julie Kane, "Memoir Short Takes", Booksmack! 10/21/10
Kirkus Reviews

Memoir of a rape victim's quest for justice 22 years after her attack.

On Sept. 8, 2005, Seccuro received a letter that forever altered her future. It was from William Beebe, a former fraternity member at the University of Virginia who had brutally raped the author and was never charged with the crime. His unexpected apology spurred Seccuro to find answers, and in the months that followed, she and Beebe exchanged several heated e-mails in which she attempted to make sense of the hazy night of her attack. As she soon discovered, Beebe's recollections of the rape contradicted her own. When she decided to press charges, the trial that followed revealed secrets buried far deeper than she had imagined. "I was a straight-A student, played the lead in many school plays, and was a member of the student council, swim team, math club, yearbook staff, and cheerleading squad," writes the author. Yet following that night in 1984, all of her credentials became irrelevant. She was transformed into a rape victim, and as she reached out to her university for help, she found few willing to listen. Seccuro's account of the 2006 trial serves as a final chance for redemption. While Beebe readily admitted his involvement in the rape, his own guilt was soon overshadowed by the revelation that he was the third of three men who raped Seccuro that night—a fact that shocked even the victim. The trial also took a toll on her marriage. The memoir continually shifts between conjuring the ghosts of the past and combating the ghosts of the present. The author's unrelenting search for the truth opens old wounds, forcing her to relive the most traumatic night of her life in order to seek long-overdue justice.

A thorough, intimate retelling of a tragic tale.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596915855
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 1/4/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 274,811
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Liz Seccuro is an event planner and a victim's rights activist. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two children.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Clarity and Courage

    Liz Seccuro spent years building her world anew after it had been destroyed by rape when she was seventeen. The strong foundation of her carefully structured life was weakened when the rapist, William Beebe, dared to contact her twenty-two years after the assault. Ms. Seccuro wrote Crash Into Me as a concise narrative that documents the complex true story of surviving after rape, and seeking the justice victims deserve.

    Ms. Seccuro conveys how she feels as she engages the rapist in email correspondence. The exchanges prompt her to take on the seemingly insurmountable task of pressing charges against the man who had assaulted her when they were at the University of Virginia in 1984.

    The reader sees the wide net of protection that is cast upon institutions that value the status-quo. It is disturbing to hear how society defends the perpetrator while blaming the victim. It is maddening to read that: "in a rape case, it is never, ever the alleged rapist on trial, whether in the courtroom or in the media. The victim is on trial. Always." (p. 114) No wonder victims do not dare report!

    Ms. Seccuro candidly reveals the details of her experience, and the story yields even more brutality and betrayal. She balances her emotional content with the inclusion of court documents (which left me shaking my head in disbelief at the absurdity of the questions posed by the defendant's attorney to the witness, the victim herself). She deepens the readers empathy with every impossible decision she must make. How hard do rape victims have to work to empower themselves as individuals and in society?

    Seccuro's singular book speaks volumes about the priggish institutional systems and the precision in which they cooperate to cover-up crime. How can a medical facility turn away a rape victim? (This was the case for seventeen year old Liz). Crash Into Me is a fast-paced, riveting read, written with clarity and courage. Bravo to Liz Seccuro!

    Review completed by Lynn C. Tolson

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2011

    Outrageous Injustice

    Having been educated outside of the U.S., my impressions of fraternities and sororities came from books and news articles, and they haven't been positive. Stories like these do not help to redeem them in my eyes. I agree that Liz Seccuro is a terrific writer who makes the reader empathetic, not just sympathetic, to her trauma and the enormous courage she displayed to confront and overcome it. Some reviewers said that justice has been served, but I don't know. I got the impression that her two other attackers got away scot-free and probably are now smirking in the shadows, confident in the silence of the university and their fraternity brothers. We need to teach these young people the real definition of honor. Staying silent and/or hiding horrible crimes such as rape is NOT honor. It's called abetting crime. And very disappointing about the University of Virginia administration who only seemed to focus on perpetrator protection at the cost of the victims' mental and physical well-being. I wish we can say that it was in the 1980s and things have improved at the school, but, from the slew of recent articles, it doesn't seem to be the case.

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