Summary: Chapter 3

After picking up Keely and Allison from Beau Donaldson’s house, Beth Huguet takes Allison to the hospital to get a rape kit collected. Allison says that the collection of evidence from the rape was essentially like being raped all over again. But, looking back, she feels it was necessary to get the rape kit, although it was traumatic and invasive. The next day, Allison goes to the UM football game with her father, Kevin. Her father, unaware of the rape, points out Beau to her. Allison is disturbed to see her rapist standing as if nothing has happened. She leaves her father at halftime and finds Keely Williams to process her complex emotions. The two go off alone, and Williams tells Allison that she too has been raped.

Krakauer describes the circumstances of Keely Williams’ rape, which were very similar to Allison’s. After getting drunk and high at a party her first year at Portland State, Keely woke up in her friend’s room, unaware how she got there, to find that her friend was raping her. This past experience helps Keely to empathize strongly with Allison, and makes her feel guilty for not doing more to protect her. Allison, with Keely’s encouragement, decides to have Beau come to her mother’s house. She hopes Beau will confess and want to take record their conversation even though she knows a recording made without Beau’s knowledge cannot be admitted as evidence in court. Beau comes with his friend Sam Erschler, sits with Allison and her mother, Beth, and confesses he “took advantage” of Allison. Allison and Beth doubt the sincerity of Beau’s apology. They urge him to get therapy, and Allison tells him that, if she ever hears of another girl saying he touched her, she will go to the police.

Summary: Chapter 4

After being raped, Allison decides to take all of her college classes online from Missoula. She hears that people as far away as Idaho are saying that she and Beau had consensual sex. She texts Beau that if she hears one more person saying they slept together she will go to the police. Beau promises to shut down the rumor. Allison says she can hardly remember the year that followed. She says she made bad decisions but was unwilling to admit that Beau had changed her. Then, in 2011, she moves back to Oregon. Allison says she became good at blocking out the bad feelings until something triggered them. In November of 2011, during a return trip to Missoula, she sees Beau at a bar. She tells her friend, Carol, how Beau raped her, and Carol tells Beau to leave. Fresh off a football win against Montana State, Beau laughs and mouths the words “fuck you” at Allison. She and Carol leave the bar.

Late that night, Allison emails Detective Baker of the Missoula Police Department. Detective Baker had been Allison’s research mentor for a project on SWAT operations she did during her senior year of high school. In her email, Allison describes being in “a situation.” Detective Baker offers to talk, but Allison is uncertain about discussing her rape explicitly with the police. She goes back to Oregon, and she and Detective Baker continue to communicate through email. She returns home to Missoula for Christmas break, and she, Carol, and Beau’s friend Sam Erschler go out to a bar. While there, Allison gets angry thinking about Beau. She drunkenly offers Sam a thousand dollars to beat Beau up. He refuses. She realizes, soon after, that her repressed feelings are making her have unhealthy thoughts. On December 16, 2011, she goes to the Missoula Police Department and reports the rape to Detective Baker.

Analysis: Chapters 3 & 4

Chapter 3 explores how the difficulties and trauma that come with rape continue long after its physical violence has ended. First, the victim has to decide whether or not to submit to the invasive process of having evidence collected, of getting what’s called a “rape kit.” The evidence of physical trauma—such as bruising or bleeding—and any DNA evidence—such has blood, hair, or semen—is crucial should a victim decide to prosecute her rapist in court. As Allison points out, being probed and inspected by a stranger, especially so soon after being attacked, feels similar to being raped. It reinforces the original trauma. Victims also struggle because they feel their shame prevents them from talking with those closest to them. Allison feels she cannot talk to her own father. Allison also has to cope with the fact that her rapist, Beau, is free. He has suffered no consequences for his actions, and is celebrated by his community for his position on the football team. Though it comes as a surprise to Allison that Keely Williams is also a rape victim, rape is more common than many people realize. Because Williams has had more time to process and understand her rape she is able to help guide support her friend.

The circumstances of Keely Williams’ and Allison’s rapes were similar. Both girls were at parties and were encouraged to drink to excess. Because they trusted their attackers, they did not feel unsafe staying in their attackers’ homes. These are precisely the vulnerabilities, Krakauer argues, that enable rapists to commit rape and get away with it. Another part of Krakauer’s project is to illustrate the importance of communal support for rape victims. Because of her former experience, Williams sees that a recorded confession might help Allison to come to terms with the trauma she has experienced. When Beau does admit that he “took advantage” of Allison, his confession is only partial. It shows that he does not take full ownership of his crime. Like many rapists, Beau may not even fully understand that the non-consensual sex he had with Allison was rape. Krakauer contrasts Beau’s selfishness and narcissism against Allison and Beth Huguet’s empathy and compassion. Allison and Beth Huguet want less to punish Beau for his actions than to find assurance that, if he remains in the community, he won’t hurt anyone else.

In Chapter 4, Krakauer shows how Allison struggles to regain control of her life despite the pain and betrayal she feels. Instead of returning to school in Oregon, she stays in the community where she grew up. Rape victims are often left with a variety of bad options for how to move on after being raped. Allison’s decision is positive for her in that she can get support from her close friends and family, but it also means that she remains near Beau’s social circles. In an effort to move on with her life, she tries to block out and ignore her feelings, but, at the same time, she is constantly reminded of her rape. For Allison, the fact that people in Missoula talk and behave as if she and Beau had consensual sex is more proof that Beau has not taken ownership of his crime. After Allison encounters Beau at the bar, it is clear to her that her compassion failed. Beau feels no remorse and continues to be a threat to other women in the community.

For rape victims who decide to seek justice, it is seldom clear how best to proceed. Unlike many young women, Allison knows and has worked closely with someone in the police department, Detective Baker. In some ways Allison’s position, like her decision to report her rape to the police, is exceptional. If Allison did not have a police connection, she may not have begun the correspondence with Detective Baker that eventually led to her reporting Beau’s crime. Allison’s behavior and her struggle to reach a decision show the difficulty and complexity of the trauma rape victims endure. Allison lives for fifteen months in pain, anxiety, and obsession before she is able to decide that reporting Beau to the police is the right thing to do. Her rape, meanwhile, took place in a matter of minutes.