Rape Girl as a Resource

The following questions were created by Brittany Winebar, a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) with a Masters in Social Work (MSW). Brittany runs a teen therapy group for survivors at Prevail and has used RAPE GIRL as a tool with her groups.

Discussion questions for a therapeutic setting:

1.    Valerie relates her story through the lens of life "before" and "after" her assault. Little is gathered about her future. What skills, tools and/or people does Valerie have in her life that will make her successful as she moves forward? What about you? 

2.    What is your interpretation of the artwork on the cover? 

3.    Many characters in Valerie's family blame themselves for the assault. How come self-blame is so powerful in sexual assault? Are there times when you have blamed yourself? How about other people in your family?

4.    What emotions does Valerie experience before, during, as everyone found out, and months after the rape? How do your emotions during those times compare?

5.    Valerie was in a vulnerable situation by being intoxicated and throwing a party without parent permission. Does this mean she was to blame for her assault? Why?

6.    Valerie experiences intense feelings and intrusive thoughts. She often chooses coping mechanisms that make her numb. What would be examples of unhealthy coping used by Valerie? 

7.    Often times, survivors question their reactions during an assault. What does Valerie do during the rape that is courageous? During your own assault, what did you do that keep your mind or body safe?

8.    Throughout the book, Valerie shares her internal thoughts about her experiences after the assault. Does this internal dialogue match her external expression. Why or why not? What masks have you worn?

9.    Dr. Buckner discusses Valerie's health risks because of her virginity and Valerie thinks to herself..."was a virgin." What does it mean to be a virgin to you?

10. What does it mean for Valerie to not have any control of people knowing about her rape?

11. Prior to the rape, Mimi and Valerie were best friends. Valerie was even protective of Mimi when she had been drinking. How does Valerie overcome Mimi's betrayal? How have friends impacted your progress for the positive or the negative?

12. Valerie's mom's reaction affects much of her healing. How has your parent/guardian's viewpoint affected your progress?

13. On page 38, Valerie tries to journal but had no idea what to write. This is an example of positive coping. What are other examples of positive coping? What would it mean for you to try these?

14. Valerie learns that reporting rape is a double edged sword. There are positive and negative consequences to people knowing about her assault. What have been the benefits and challenges for you since people found out about your assault?

15. A girl from school calls Valerie "that rape girl." What does it mean to be "that rape girl?" How does this make you feel as a survivor?

16. At Christmas, Valerie is given a car by her mother, but thinks that her mother would never have bought it for her if she had not been raped. Although this is normal, how does this type of negative and distorted thinking impact your healing? 

17. Valerie's uncle asks her: "Don’t you think it’s time you put all of this behind you?" Has anyone said anything hurtful to you, while trying to be helpful?

18. During group therapy, Valerie compares her rape to Sonja’s. Although this is normal, what does it mean to compare and minimize your own experience?

19. How does Valerie react to her feelings for Wesley? What does it mean to trust yourself or someone else after the assault?

20. Was Sandrina's support integral to Valerie's healing? How can someone so totally unexpected make you feel better? Are you open to such a person in your recovery?

21. Shanice discusses the betrayal of her own body during her assault. How do our involuntary biological responses affect our emotional reactions?

22. In group, the girls discuss whether telling was the right choice. How do you feel about this?

23. Is healing dependent on the result of the criminal justice system’s proceedings? Why or why not?

24. What was your reaction when the charges on Adam were dropped? 

25. There were many times when Valerie is revictimized (i.e. rape kit collection, charges being dropped, school's reaction, etc.). Did you have these feelings in your own life? If so, how did you manage it?

26. Valerie and her mother decide to make a change to move forward with their lives and not let the rape define them. What would it mean for you to do this? What would you have to let go? What are you reaching towards in the future?

Follow-up Writing Activities

--Working alone or in small groups, list 10 positive qualities Valerie possesses in the book. Discuss, as a group, why they think each of them apply.  Have each member of the group choose one of those qualities to describe themselves.  (Often the things we admire in others are the same things others admire in us.)

--Give everyone 7 index cards. Each card will be used for one word. One at a time, have them write about:

  • Strength (Describe a moment you felt strong. Are there specific activities that make you feel strong?)
  • Hope ( Name something you hope for in the future.)
  • Fear (What is something you fear? How do you deal with your fear?)
  • Peace (What things soothe you and help you find peace?)
  • Love (Who makes you feel loved? Who do you love?)
  • Pain (Describe something that has caused you pain. How do you cope with your pain?)
  • Laughter (Think of a time that you laughed out loud? What made you laugh?)

--On page 41, Valerie allows Mimi to read a poem she wrote about her assault. Ask the girls to complete their own poem between sessions and bring them back to share if they are able.

Discussion questions for school groups and book clubs: 

1.    What is your interpretation of the artwork on the cover of Rape Girl?

2.   How did you feel when you first saw the title of the book? Do you believe you would have had the same reaction to Murder Girl?  Which title is harder to say out loud? Why? 

3.    Ms. Gimli states that rape is the only crime in which the victim has to prove her innocence. Why is this? What societal factors play a role in this?

4.    Valerie was in a vulnerable situation, being intoxicated and throwing a party without parent permission. Does this mean she was to blame for the assault? Why or why not?

5.    Adam builds support for his innocence through text messaging and Facebook. What role does social media play in rape for teens today? 

6.   Valerie is judged by the law enforcement officers, Mimi, classmates, the prosecutor, etc. Why does society judge a victim's innocence on his/her apparel or emotional reactions?

7.    In Valerie's meeting with the prosecutor and detective, they are critical of her reaction during the assault. They appear to be looking for a "perfect rape." Does such a thing exist? 

8.    The metaphor of weather is used throughout the book. What do you see as the meaning of this metaphor and its connection to rape?

9.    Valerie is forced to confront her perpetrator in school. Do you think this was fair? Why or why not? What was powerful about her response?

10.    Valerie was required to complete the rape kit. Give a statement to the police. Change classes. Go to therapy. Why are perpetrators afforded more rights than victims?

11. Adam states, "I'm just a guy, not a rapist." Is this true? Why or why not? 

12. This story was about a girl being sexually assaulted. Can boys also be assaulted? Why or why not?

13. What is one take home message you got from the book?

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