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Graphic Medicine Novels: Not My Shame

 Not My Shame

Not My Shame

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Bibliographic Record

 Title  Not My Shame
 Author  Walker, TO
 Illustrator  Walker, TO
 Mental Illness  PTSD
 Publication Date  2016
 Publisher  Singing Dragon
 ISBN  978-1785921841
 # Pages  72
 Color Profile  Black & White
 Worldcat Link  https://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1014041908
 Amazon Link  https://www.amazon.com/Not-My-Shame-T-Walker/dp/1785921843
 Annotator  Jen A. Fisher

Summary

Not My Shame is a non-linear narrative that gives an inside view of the trauma caused by childhood sexual exploitation. The reader gets a rare glimpse into the journey that follows as the book tries to tackle issues including victim blaming, traumatic memory, and dissociation. It also brings into the fray the sad reality that, in the author’s case, doctors, agencies, and law enforcement only victimized her further by their ignorance. Their lack of knowledge of the dynamics that exist between perpetrators and their victims ultimately led to further trauma, and as the blame was put on her by authority figures, it perpetuated her despair, shame, self-harm, and confusion.

Despite all this, the author tries to remain hopeful, showing that one can still be a good parent and come to terms with their past through therapy, art, and healthy relationships. Walker also sends a strong message to those whose job it is to protect children, especially the importance of what it means to educate themselves about trauma and avoid victim-blaming. She ends the book with a message for her fellow survivors: to never give up, to find their voice, and to speak their truth.

Presentation

Walker’s narrative style is less about linear sequential art as much as it is about presenting the reader with an almost overwhelming series of images and thoughts. To add to this, Walker’s artistic style is unsophisticated and disjointed, but it’s that very rawness that makes the work impressive in the way it reflects emotions. Often, the emotional exposure is depicted with an unflinching and affecting honesty, and she uses text boxes very sparingly. The use of entire panels, almost always seeping with a dark, blotted background, add to her feelings of frustration within the book.

Mental Illness Narrative

Not My Shame shows textbook examples of dissociation in the frequent use of blank spaces and foggy images, which illustrate the sense of blankness and disconnect that comes with dissociation. Walker repeatedly reuses distorted images in order to show that trauma can make time feel nonlinear and that it can feel as though there are competing realities.

Humanistic Revelations

One of the central themes in Not My Shame is the importance of being present. From authority figures to the victim herself, healing doesn’t really occur until there is an established connection with the world around her. Even in the case of her trauma, Walker needs to connect with her past and present and process the feelings of shame she has before she is able to connect with others and heal.

Recommendations

Recommended ages 13+​

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