The fundamental question for people who deal with sexual assault is what happens next? What do I do now? Can I be helped, can I be saved?
The memoir “Controlled”, by Neesha Arter, paints the perspective of a now 25-year-old woman looking back upon her 14-year-old self with a desire to help, to heal, to learn, and to understand. Introspectively, Arter tells her story and paves a path for other survivors to unburden their shoulders of pain and suffering. However, this book is not just for survivors of sexual assault. It’s for everyone: parents, teachers, friends, and family. This is a story meant for all eyes and ears, solely intended to help and heal.
The journey of “Controlled” began when Arter was 18-years-old in an attempt to purge negativity and create a cathartic pathway for healing: “When I first started writing this book, it was mainly for myself. I originally thought that if I could face the past and publish the book, I would be able to move on from this.”
Beginning with a gripping account of Arter’s sexual event, the story spirals into a heart-wrenching account of denial, self-resolve, familial love and personal strength. The beautifully descriptive language conveys each and every emotion, creating somewhat of a cinematic experience for readers. When asked why she wrote the memoir, Arter professed her deep desire to help people, to bring awareness to the prevailing issues of eating disorders and sexual assault.
Arter explains: “This book is for the 14-year-old girl I used to be. It’s for any girl or boy dealing with a sexual assault or an eating disorder. It’s also for parents, friends, family members, and teachers. Unfortunately, sexual assault and eating disorders are two very prevalent issues that aren’t going away anytime soon and I wanted to write an honest account to give people the inside reality no one wants to admit.”
Arter aspires to answer the ever-looming ‘what happens next?’ that follows the debasement that is sexual assault. Her story and her perspective are poignantly expressed in a sharing, helpful, and hopeful memoir of a young woman’s journey to overcome.
When asked what the resounding message of her memoir was, Arter describes: “I want people to know that the most important thing in the world is the relationship you have with yourself. Being your best friend and your cheerleader will take you through the darkest times and to the other side. I wish I could have told myself that this isn’t the end and no matter how bad things seem, there is always, always hope.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2012, out of the number of reported sexual assault survivors, 26% were between the ages of 12-14. According to a similar survey, 69% of reported adolescent sexual assaults occurred in the residence of the victim, a residence of a family member, or an involved third-party.
Amidst such bleak statistics and seemingly endless pain, Arter breaks the mold of heartbreak and offers solace in a survivor’s story. She speaks to each and every reader on a personal level and gives us a story we have long needed — a story of inner-strength, courage, and hope.
Although this will not be the most apropos of conclusions to an article, I’ll conclude this review with the following: I want to wish Neesha Arter continued success in overcoming and in helping others to overcome.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.