Broken silence

Best-selling author Jessica Knoll reveals gang rape in “Luckiest Girl Alive” was autobiographical

Jessica Knoll at home in New York. (Richard Perry/The New York Times)

Jessica Knoll, the successful author whose best-selling debut about a young woman dealing with the lingering trauma of sexual assault, “Luckiest Girl Alive”, revealed in a bone-chilling essay that the gang-rape depicted in that novel was based on her own, real-life experience. In the Lenny newsletter, she detailed being sexually assaulted by three boys at a party in high school, being told by a doctor the next day he was “not qualified to tell her” whether she had been raped, and then being bullied by classmates who called her a slut. “No one was treating me like a victim; they were treating me like I was a perpetrator, like I was getting what I deserved,” she shared. “The message I internalized was that nothing bad happened; you did something wrong.”

Knoll explained that after the novel was published she was overwhelmed by messages from women who had undergone similar traumas as her novel’s main character. It made her question why she had kept her own story silent. “I was so conditioned to not talk about it that it didn’t even occur to me to be forthcoming,” she told the New York Times. “I want to make people feel like they can talk about it, like they don’t have to be ashamed of it.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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