Cover image for Telling : a memoir of rape and recovery
Telling : a memoir of rape and recovery
Francisco, Patricia Weaver.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Cliff Street Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
228 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6561 .F73 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"You who see, tell the others." -- Audre Lorde

In this intimate memoir, Patricia Weaver Francisco tells of her fifteen-year journey to recognize and overcome the effects of a violent rape. Francisco explores key aspects of a women's life in the aftermath of rape--passion, marriage, solitude, childbirth, motherhood.

She invites the reader into her life and into the questions raised by a crime with no obvious solutions or easy answers. We see the dimensions of a human struggle often kept hidden from view. While there are an estimated twelve million rape survivors in the United States, rape is still unspeakable, left out of our personal and cultural conversation. In Telling, Francisco has found a language for the secret grief carried by men and women who have survived rape.

Telling opens us to an experience both common and mysterious, wrenching and full of triumph. Describing her fear during and after the rape in a visceral, unforgettable style, Francisco details the transformation of trauma into strength. This transformation begins by learning to talk about rape, to understand the resistance she encounters in herself and others.

She chronicles a complex journey, both surprising and recognizable. Aspects of her life deepen; others don't survive. She wrestles with spiritual despair, outrage, and a longing for justice. But with awareness comes the return of pleasure, hunger, and desire. She reminds us " beautiful the dignity of truth can be" and inspires in us a desire to listen, to know the truths that can transform our own lives. She also gives us a clear portrait of the tragic consequences for the survivor--and our culture--when we neglect this human story.

Told with grace and a soul-stirring eloquence, Telling is, in the end, a form of power. It will leave you with a sense of hope and a renewed appreciation for life's possibilities. A compelling and important book, Telling will start the conversations that can bring hope and healing to the women who need it, and to their loved ones trying to help them.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Telling requires a kind of courage that I normally lack. This book is an exertion, a promise I'm keeping, and it's slow going." Readers may find the going slow, too, because Francisco (Cold Feet) writes in an almost halting, episodic style as she breaks a long silence to write about rape and its long, perhaps endless, aftermath. Her memoir is deliberately self-conscious in its revelations of what happened, in its exploration of emotion and in its construction of meaning. And it works, because Francisco's method is appropriate to the larger argument that animates the memoir: that, while telling is excruciating, silence is poison. In 1981, while her husband, Tim, was in Vermont, an intruder broke into her Minneapolis home and raped her. Francisco underwent counseling and received a great deal of love and support from both Tim and her friends. However, despite her best efforts to carry on with her life, she found that she was unable to recover completely from the trauma. She now attributes the difficult labor she endured four years later while giving birth to her son to a suppressed physiological memory of the rape. She also feels that her ordeal placed a stress on her and Tim that contributed to their subsequent divorce. In order to complete her recovery, Francisco needed publicly to acknowledge what happened to her. So she attended several Minnesota rape trials and participated in the "Silent Witness" project, which publicizes cases of women killed in domestic violence. In this fierce book, she strikes a difficult balance between the subjectivity of memoir and an eloquent argument that society must look sexual assault in the face before it can be stopped. Agent, Ellen Levine. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Lexiconp. xi
Prologuep. 1
1. Bedtime Storyp. 5
2. Telling Detailsp. 7
3. Telling Details/2p. 22
4. Telling Details/3p. 27
5. Carried Awayp. 35
6. Afterp. 39
7. Exodusp. 52
8. Bedtime Story/2p. 69
9. Fearp. 72
"How I Walk"p. 91
10 First Anniversaryp. 95
11. Roots of Fearp. 97
12. Do I Look Angry?p. 113
13. Third Anniversaryp. 121
14. Love, Labor, Lossp. 123
15. Eleventh Anniversaryp. 140
16. Your Aura's Got Holes in Itp. 142
"Gretel, from a sudden clearing"p. 153
17. Giftsp. 155
18. Bedtime Story/3p. 160
19. Justicep. 164
From "The Veils"p. 197
20. Visibilityp. 199
"Details from the August Heat: Your Rape One Year Later"p. 209
21. Bedtime Story/4p. 211
22. The Laurel Treep. 215
Notesp. 223
Acknowledgmentsp. 227