Not My Shame
|Title||Not My Shame|
|Color Profile||Black & White|
|Annotator||Jen A. Fisher|
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recommended ages 13+
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