In Review: Not My Shame by T.O. Walker

Not My Shame - Cover

Written by T.O. Walker
Published by Singing Dragon

The Book: With subtlety and sensitivity, Not My Shame is a powerful graphic novel that draws the reader into the experience of trauma and dissociation caused by sexual violence. It reveals the intrusive traumatic memories and distress experienced by a victim of childhood sexual exploitation in her adulthood and follows the process of coming to terms with her past through therapy and art.

Positive and hopeful at its heart, it demonstrates her ability to be a good parent irrespective of mental health struggles and explores the importance of relationships with people in the present.

The Review: Not My Shame is a story full of hauntingly still faces in bleak landscapes. It is a comic crammed with sharply focused emotions –  and speaks to heartbreaking sadness. I came away from the reading experience feeling deeply affected by its contents. You may come away feeling that the world might be a little bit more broken than you first thought or realised.

To portray and communicate such a level of insightful emotion through a printed page is both an incredible achievement and hugely important in educating those that need to be educated.

“If you’re good it won’t hurt.”

While the art and lettering have a somewhat amateur edge, Not My Shame makes use of that style to impress upon the reader the reality of the story it tells. (In fact, I would hazard a guess that a more polished style would not have the same effect). Raw emotions are given impact through the DIY approach on all the pages. It has a diary effect but is much more in a captured moment style. It is a sketchbook of moments in fact, where time is stretched through the timeline that jumps backwards at moments to show the abuse and the effects it’s had throughout the life of the victim.

“I feel like I should have seen what was coming.”

Not My Shame is a comic that also commits completely to its story and message. It bares its heart one thousand per cen, in every still image and every turn of phrase. It shows how lonely the world can be as a survivor of abuse, but it also shows rays of hope. The voices echo off beyond the page into your thoughts long after you have finished reading.

This is reality, cold and hard and a status quo that only be changed by society and people actually doing something to help. Not just a charity of law enforcement or by the media but by everyone. This is and should be the message that you walk away with from Not My Shame.

The words on the last page will break your heart.

• Buy Not My Shame from amazon.co.uk – using this link helps support downthetubes

• Find more out about this book and may others at www.singingdragon.com

• If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this comic then you may find help at www.rapecrisis.org.uk or www.thesurvivorstrust.org

• T.O. Walker is an illustrator, an educator and an activist.

Many thanks for reading.

Antony Esmond

Antony Esmond

Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.

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