When Joanna Connors was thirty years old on assignment for the Cleveland Plain Dealer to review a play at a college theater, she was held at knife point and raped by a stranger who had grown up five miles away from her. Read more...
When Joanna Connors was thirty years old on assignment for the Cleveland Plain Dealer to review a play at a college theater, she was held at knife point and raped by a stranger who had grown up five miles away from her. Once her assailant was caught and sentenced, Joanna never spoke of the trauma again, until 21 years later when her daughter was about to go to college. She resolved then to tell her children about her own rape so they could learn and protect themselves, and she began to realize that the man who assaulted her was one of the formative people in her life.
Setting out to uncover the story of her attacker, Connors embarked on a journey to find out who he was, where he came from, who his friends were and what his life was like. What she discovers stretches beyond one violent man s story and back into her own, interweaving a narrative about strength and survival with one about rape culture and violence in America.
I Will Find You is a brave, timely consideration of race, class, education and the families that shape who we become, by a reporter and a survivor.
- ISBN-13: 9780802122605
- ISBN-10: 0802122604
- Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
- Publish Date: April 2016
- Page Count: 272
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-04
- Reviewer: Staff
In this gripping memoir, Connors, a reporter for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio, reckons with trauma after rape. In 1984, while Connors was on a reporting assignment in Cleveland, she was raped by a stranger. After 30 years, she goes on a quest to uncover the personal story of David, the man who raped her, and in the process encounters the stories of brutality faced by David’s family as they experience poverty and racism. Connors talks with David’s siblings, who reveal their own trauma and exposure to violence at the hands of an abusive father and a broken legal system that over-incarcerates poor people of color. She examines the racial politics of Cleveland as she crosses geographic divisions between rich and poor neighborhoods, seeking out David’s family. This book is a powerful story of exposing and confronting emotional scars in order to move forward. With emotional honesty and the precision of a seasoned journalist, Connors explores her own trials coping with the aftermath of rape, which leave the imprint of a constant fear and lead her to mistrust even close family members. Connors’s astute reflections on race, gender, and the personal plight of victimhood make this book a must-read. (Apr.)
Searching for answers about her assailant
On July 9, 1984, reporter Joanna Connors was on assignment for the Cleveland Plain Dealer when she was raped on the stage of an empty theater at Case Western Reserve University. Her assailant, 27-year-old David Williams, was arrested and sent to prison. In I Will Find You, she offers an insightful account of this life-changing event and its harrowing aftermath.
Connors describes the brutal crime, police investigation and trial with emotional honesty that’s complemented by her reporting skills. Williams’ arrest wasn’t difficult given the fact that he had his name tattooed on his arm, and that he inexplicably returned to the scene of the crime the next day.
Connors remained haunted not only by the event but by Williams’ chilling threat to find her if she reported it. She raised a son and daughter, not telling them about the crime until her daughter was about to go to college.
At that point, she decided, “Maybe I should find him instead.” A records search revealed that her assailant had died in prison in 2000. “My search for him was over before it started,” she writes.
And yet it wasn’t. Connors diligently tracked down Williams’ friends and family, discovering that his family life was filled with poverty, abuse from his father, alcoholism, addiction and crime. Her investigation leads her to conclude that her rapist and his family were victims in their own right.
She writes: “As a reporter, I have asked so many other people to open themselves up and let me tell their stories, all the while withholding my own. I owed this to them. I owed it to other women who have been raped. I owed it to my children.”
Connors’ riveting, soul-searching book deserves a wide audience; it presents an unusual first-person perspective on critical issues of race, class and crime in America.