How long can you keep a dark secret before you become completely unraveled? In What She Was Wearing, Shawn Aveningo Sanders uses poetry, prose, and letters to tell her #MeToo story--one that has taken over 30 years to reveal.
In this collection, Shawn shares her nightmare of being raped at a fraternity toga party, and examines the event from a variety of perspectives, including poems written from the viewpoint of her attackers; the toga she was wearing; homecoming years later; and even the moment she told her college-aged children. As Shawn's story unfolds, the reader will come to understand how significant the aftermath of rape can be. For decades, she was "triggered" in the most unexpected ways and is just now recognizing how those triggers impacted her self-worth.
Inspired by the countless number of women who are bravely opening up to share their truth, she adds her voice to the fight against the oppressive, misogynic times we live in. It's time to stop blaming the victim and to stop asking what she was wearing For Shawn, writing through the pain and sharing these poems has proven to be cathartic and even epiphanic at times. It is her hope this work can help women of all ages face and cope with their own traumas, while letting them know they can indeed heal and go on to enjoy loving, trusting relationships.
Advance Praise for What She Was Wearing
"Starkly honest and memorably graceful, these poems are a virtuoso performance of feminism and survival."
--Amy Miller, author of The Trouble with New England Girls
"Forced into silence for too long, women all over this world are now speaking out, saying #MeToo. What She Was Wearing is Sanders' brave voice joining this transforming chorus."
--Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita
"Shawn Aveningo Sanders has turned shame, anguish and grief into poetry, ... teach ing] the audience about pain in a way they will absorb and comprehend, creating deep levels of empathy?"
--Judith Arcana, poet & activist for reproductive rights, author of Announcements from the Planetarium
"What She Was Wearing demonstrates how sexual assault impacts the entirety of the survivor's life and shows us how one can fight their way back to feeling whole again."
--Christopher Luna, Clark County, WA's inaugural poet laureate
"As a fellow #MeToo survivor, all 25 poems in the book spoke to me."
--Sharon Wood Wortman, poet, storyteller, author of The Portland Bridge Book
"Fresh and unflinching"
--Leslie Anne Mcilroy, co-founder HEArt: Human Equity through Art