I choose Elena

Content warning: sexual trauma, sexual violence, trauma and recovery.

Sometimes I cruise through books as if I want to devour them and sometimes, I need to take it in word for word. I choose Elena by Lucia Osborne-Crowley is one I had to reread words in order to let it sink in. It’s a non-fiction book about Osborne-Crowley’s own life with a focus on how she dealt with sexual trauma. On my personal Instagram account, I had talked about the topic of consent. Coincidentally, an old classmate had seen this and told Callas Nijskens, the translator and fellow classmate, that this book might interest me. It took me a while to be willing to talk about this book because I wanted to do it justice and kept postponing it.

When you postpone something for a while, it falls to the background. With this book, I kept thinking about it and it wouldn’t let me go. I think it’s because the topic was so important that I felt like I needed to share this book with everyone. I don’t know how to convey to you that this book changed some constructs in my mind I wasn’t even aware of. But I will try to tell you anyway.

I could try to quote all of the lessons I’ve learned from this book, but I’ll keep the list short so that there is more room for you to start reading this one yourself and go on the journey with Osborne-Crowley:

  • your body and your mind are more connected than you can imagine
  • trauma will always find a way to the surface – time does not heal all wounds
  • loving yourself is not impossible
  • being kind to yourself is not impossible
  • everyone needs help
  • the health care system is unjust, sexist and flawed
  • shame will literally take your life from you
  • it’s never too late to start healing

Normally, I give an in-depth analysis or extensive overview of what a book is about, but I think this one is really important to discover for yourself. Osborne-Crowley has put a lot of research for you in a palatable book and a place to start understanding what sexual trauma can do to your body and mind.

I hope being not forthcoming enough about the content makes you curious, whether you are a victim or know a victim of sexual trauma, or just want to learn more about the inner workings of (sexual) trauma. Above all, I wish this topic would be less taboo and lifted from the shadows. The thing I said about shame is really key because taboos cause shame. Sexual trauma is so much more common than we thought, as the #MeToo-movement has shown, so why are we still dancing around discussing the (extensive) consequences this has on our lives?

So, let this be your sign to pick this book up and go from there to discuss, understand and heal from sexual trauma. And if you’re a Dutchie: the translation is really good and the publishing house is small and does some really nice work so support them if you can!


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