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August 13 , 2010

One Night

Realities of Rape


One night, anthropologist Cathy Winkler awoke from a deep sleep to discover a rapist standing by her bed. For the rest of that night, she lived a woman's worst nightmare as she was repeatedly raped and beaten by the stranger. The event changed her life into something resembling a Kafka novel: a justice system that bungled the case then blamed the victim, a social service system that provided no services or comfort, uneasy and awkward friends, exploitative media, and insensitive university administrators and colleagues. The pain of those four hours was dwarfed by the frustration of her decade-long fight to find the rapist and bring him to justice, ultimately through one of the first successful uses of DNA evidence in a rape case. Winkler, a brilliant observer and ethnographer, chronicles this struggle here—including her own growing awareness of her power to stare down district attorneys, to use the media to her own ends (including segments on 48 Hours and Court TV), and, ultimately through her persistence, to put the rapist behind bars for life. As a story of triumph over adversity, One Night is an inspirational work. And it provides a model of how researchers can turn the lens inward and incisively examine ourselves and our own world.
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