Silencing Anna sparked a lot of discussion about domestic abuse which I suspect was Sadie Mitchell’s intention. The framing device of Anna in hospital in a locked in state, which was fascinating, hardly featured. The back story of Anna’s two major relationships – the almost ‘too good to be true’ time with Dylan followed by the horror that was James gave a lot of food for thought.
The writing, although repetitive at times, carried the story along well, and the issues of domestic abuse, coercion and control are explored in an accessible way. It gave a real insight into Anna’s state of mind as she wavers between being lulled into believing everything is ok only to be faced with James’ anger and her doubts again; and her unwillingness to share her situation with others. The book shows how an abuser works – and even after ‘escape’ how they can haul their victim back in (would we have accepted the invitation to the concert?)
Our discussion touched on personal experiences, the detrimental effects of alcohol (and just how easy it is to underestimate the amount of alcohol one consumes), how difficult it is to notice that all is not right early in a new relationship and the need for this message of what abuse looks like (emotional as well as physical) to be available in places likely to reach victims.
It did feel at times as though the book was a message rather than a story, but it is a very important message to get across – and it had touched a personal nerve in all of us.