Louise O’Neill’s new book Asking For It tells an all too common story: a girl who’s raped only to believe that it was her fault. But her book is so much more than a work of fiction.
Determined to make the book “as authentic as possible,” Louise went way beyond her own experience as a survivor of sexual assault.
“I visited the Sexual Violence Centre in Cork, I spoke to survivors of sexual violence, to friends who had shared their stories of being raped with me, to barristers, to lawyers, to schoolteachers. I read memoirs and first-person essays,” Louise wrote in her essay for The Guardian.
Since published, Asking For It has been in the too five of the Irish book charts and has been nominated for numerous awards. But while that’s all well and good, that’s not what this story is about.
In 10 years’ time, I know that I probably won’t remember winning a particular award, but I will remember the letter from a woman who told me that she had been raped five years ago, and despite intensive counselling, the first time she had ever considered that it might not have been her fault was after she read my book. “
And while for years Louise doesn’t think that one single person could make such a difference, she’s now seeing just how wrong she once was. She now receives emails every day from survivors who want to share their stories and their thanks with Louise.
“Everything we put out into the world has a ripple effect, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. It’s up to us to decide what we want to do with that power.”