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Victims of Rape in the Speak Book

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Speak Essay

Without a doubt, many victims of rape often feel at bay and don’t express what they have experienced. According to the department of Justice Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 6 women in the US have experienced completed or attempted rape. Often times, people who have sexually assaulted and don’t speak up, have a higher percentage of falling into a deep depression, which can lead to abuse to drugs or alcohol. In the book, “Speak,” by Laurie Halse Anderson, Freshman Melinda Sordino was a victim of rape. During the summer, before freshman year, Melinda and her friends decided to attend a high school party-big enough that even students showed up. Andy Evans, an incoming Senior, asked Melinda to dance. He then brought Melinda alcoholic drinks and intoxicated her. In addition to that, Andy assaulted poor Melinda sexually. Not knowing what to do, Melinda called the police, which only worsened the situation. From that point on, Melinda was known as a snitch upon her friends, and was neglected by everyone at school. Once school started, Melinda didn’t feel safe at school untiul she stumbled upon an old, relinquished janitor’s closet, where she was able to express her emotions privately. Throughout the story, the janitor’s closet has influenced Melinda to break out of her shell and grow as a person.

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To begin with, the janitor’s closet gives Melinda a feeling of safety and helps her conceal the fact that she was raped. As stated by Melinda, “The closet is abandoned and has no purpose, no name. It is the perfect place for me.” (Anderson,23) The janitor’s closet acted as a sanctuary for Melinda. Due to the fact Melinda had no friends, she cooped herself up in the closet to recollect her thoughts and to feel safe. Outside of the closet, she feels vulnerable because many people judge her. Inside the closet, Melinda put up a poster of Maya Angelou. Like Melinda, Maya was also a victim of rape and a social outcast, so she gives Melinda hope to move on with her life. By providing a safe place for Melinda, the closet has helped her get through her feeling of being an outcast.

In many ways, Melinda felt connected to her closet. As stated in the book, “My closet is a good thing, a quiet place to hold these thoughts inside my head where no one can hear them.” (Anderson, 51) The closet is abandoned and forgotten amongst all the students and teachers at Merri Weather High School. It is completely deserted and nobody even considered going in there. Melinda thought of the closet-a shaded, comfortable place- as a way to grieve and reminisce her thoughts in silence and serenity. In various ways, Melinda can relate to her closet because both have been forsaken and rejected by social order.

In a like manner, the janitor’s closet was a way for Melinda to escape reality and the dangers in her life. On page 194 Melinda says, “He hit me. I scream, scream. Why aren’t the walls falling? I’m screaming loud enough to make the whole school crumble.”(Anderson,194) The janitor’s closet was one of two places that Melinda felt secure in. Being in her safe place was the key to freeing herself and standing up to Andy Evans, the fear of her life. This was the turning point where Melinda defeats the demons that have been haunting her ever since the horrifying incident at the party. The closet has done quite an impact on Melinda’s life just by providing a refuge, where she could be herself without the judgment of others.

With this in mind, the janitor’s closet has impacted Melinda’s life by giving her an opportunity to grow out of her insecurities. Throughout the story, the closet has offered Melinda a safe place, which have inspired her to speak up for herself. Although breaking out of her shell seemed hapless, Melinda was able to overcome her imperfections and fears from her past. The closet was only able to help Melinda in her time of need because she saw many relations to it. She saw what she saw in herself- something that was forgotten, rejected, and isolated from society. Overall, the janitor’s closet was the missing piece to the puzzle that enabled Melinda to piece herself together.

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