Rating: 3 / 5
Beverly Engel’s I’m Saying No! is a valuable self-help resource for coping with, standing up against, and staying safe in the face of sexual assault and harassment.
Special thanks to BookSparks for sending along this free copy!
As is elegantly prefaced at the start of this book, sexual violence is no one’s fault but the violent party. No one and nothing can cause sexual violence other than a sexually violent person. Nonetheless, we as women can arm ourselves with knowledge to try and stay safe.
In this self-help book geared most specifically to women and older girls, as well as to women who have been sexually harassed and/or assaulted. Engel provides statistics of the realities of sexual violence, tips and context for coming to terms with and protecting yourself from sexually violent experiences, and actionable exercises that can increase your confidence in saying “No!”
At its core, this book aims to arm you with the tools you need to maintain as much control of your body and your safety as is possible, while also reassuring you that nothing you did or didn’t do or could have done had an effect on whether you were sexually assaulted.
Please take caution while reading I’m Saying No! if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Sexual assault
- Child abuse / pedophilia / incest
- Self-harm and suicide
- Eating disorders and body hatred
- Mental illness
I’m not gonna lie, I was concerned that this book wouldn’t be “politically correct,” that it would attempt to tell me as a young woman that I can control whether I am sexually assaulted or not. While I do support educating women to stay safe, I don’t condone communicating that education will keep me safe. Fortunately, my fears were put at ease quickly – Engel writes with compassion, knowledge, and a little bit of tough love. She never insinuates that you can control sexual violence; only that you can prepare – especially based on overwhelming statistics that point to sexual violence likely occurring over the course of a woman’s life.
I am very lucky to have not been sexually assaulted, but I have dealt with sexual harassment such as catcalling and unwanted attention. Some of the content of I’m Saying No! is applicable to me, but the majority of the content felt much more geared toward survivors (what Engel calls former victims) of sexual assault and, in particular, of childhood sexual assault. Her exercises, specifically, ask readers to remember times when they were sexually assaulted and respond to those feelings. While I’m sure these aspects of the book will help others, they just weren’t written for me.
The ultimate goal of this book is to support readers in increasing their self confidence- whether that means a woman can more assertively say “No!” to a man who has crossed her communicated boundaries or she can more effectively overcome her past traumas. I don’t know whether this would actively help someone with this, but I do know that it shares a worthwhile message.
I believe that the most valuable resource in the book was the statistical evidence of sexual violence against women. This is a tough subject, and some young women don’t know the reality of the situation. I’m Saying No! is eye-opening and could be very beneficial for young women going into college.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on I’m Saying No!. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya.