One of the reasons to pay more attention to rape, the book argues, is that it can happen to and be committed by anybody. Allison and Beau are high-achieving members of their community and well-regarded college athletes. Beau, however, is perhaps more privileged and protected than Allison. He is, after all, a player on the UM football team. The circumstances of Beau and Allison’s lives are commonplace. They attend public high school and are relatively good students. The parties they attend are like average American college parties.

The book aims to dispel common misconceptions we have about rape being committed by masked men in alleys. It argues that the scope of the problem of rape has been misrepresented and poorly reported. Krakauer contends that Americans should be more attentive to rape’s widespread repercussions in society. Rape is more often perpetrated by acquaintances than by strangers. Allison and Beau are even more than acquaintances. They are old friends. This fact about rape is part of what makes it so traumatic for its victims. And, because of that trauma, those victims sometimes respond to it in ways that don’t seem logical. Among the many consequences of rape, Missoula also explores the sensitivity or lack of sensitivity for victims in the law and legal systems. For example, did Detective Baker realize that by coming to Allison’s father’s office Christmas party, he would expose her in front of her father and his employees?

When it comes to the night of the rape, the language Krakauer uses is direct and factual. This gives the events clarity and certainty, and it keeps the reader from rationalizing or explaining away acquaintance rape. Events are presented as distinct realities, not gray or confused circumstances. During her rape, Allison doesn’t respond in any of the ways societal myths about rape suggest that she would. She doesn’t scream, physically resist, or immediately call for help. After the rape, she calls her boyfriend. Her first concern is to seek emotional support, not punishment for her attacker. This kind of emotional reaction makes sense given her shock and fear. Rape is often unreported because victims feel or are made to feel that they are in some way responsible for what happens to them. Even Keely feels guilty for not doing more to protect her friend even though, as Allison points out, they had no reason to suspect what would happen. They trusted their friends completely.