My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I did not enjoy reading Where Fault Lies. I am not supposed to. This story is not just about rape, but the relationship the victim had with her attacker and her very painful and real struggle for justice as she works to heal.
This memoir could easily have been titled Red Flags, especially considering the first third of the book, where the reader sees an intelligent woman getting duped by a man who is clearly not just a jerk, but a psychopath. Aspects of Sayed's personality which show his damaged mind seem to be what make him more attractive to Ms. Lucas. Sayed reminds her that people are in his life until they are no longer of use to him. There are no second chances with him; people who stand up to him or displease him are "cut out." Sayed leads her to believe that their relationship is unique and that the rest of the world cannot possibly understand how special what they have is. But he is grooming her to be controlled.
As I read this section, I could not help but wonder why not only women are attracted to men like Sayed, but why anyone would even be friends or have business associations with him. We see by the end of the book that he is a complete fraud. I am surprised no one else notices this.
The second third of the book is about the rape itself and the immediate aftermath. Here readers see Sayed's brutally in not just a physical sense, but emotionally as well as he makes his victim feel bad for his hurt feelings. Soon after, he breaks off the relationship and her reaction is what is normal for a rape victim, but he uses her actions against her and twists the events to make himself look like the injured party. His behavior further demonstrates what Ms. Lucas makes clear through the whole book: that rape is much more about power and control than about sex.
Where Fault Lies is painfully detailed throughout. The final section of the book brings us into work place and the social circles and the family relationships where rape is hardly believed or brushed aside because doing something (even merely listening) is uncomfortable and inconvenient. We see callous police and sympathetic lawyers working for underfunded advocate agencies. We see a self-centered assailant who is willing to do almost anything to save his reputation and multiply the harm he has caused. Most of all, we see a human being tormented and emotionally beaten down before finding a measure of (not complete) triumph.
There are times when the details are too much and don't help the narrative, and Ms. Lucas, independent to a fault, is not going to be very likable to a few readers. However I see these issues as minor. One might say these are all the more reason to read the book. NO ONE deserves what happened to Ms. Lucas. A sub-segment of our society claims that an independent and stubborn woman deserves such treatment, but no one does, and justice should be for everyone, not only those who conform to our twisted scale of likability. This is a story that needs to be read and thought about deeply, not just by women, who face these threats more often, but by all of us. Too easily people dismiss rape as something deplorable, but never let the whole of the act touch them. This memoir forces us to be more than emotionally affected. And that is needed.