When McLaughlin wonders if she is somehow to blame for Beau’s behavior, her reaction is another demonstration of the counterintuitive response victims may have to trauma. Krakauer argues that, like McLaughlin, many victims prefer not to revisit traumatic episodes, especially when they have struggled for years to leave those episodes behind. Ultimately, McLaughlin’s hope that she might be able to keep Beau raping anyone else convinces her to work with Detective Baker. Despite McLaughlin’s cooperation and Detective Baker’s strong police work, however, Shaun Donovan is unwilling to do the tough prosecution that Allison feels is necessary for her case. Winning justice is a long, drawn-out, and bureaucratic exchange. Krakauer uses the question of Beau’s sentence to keep Beau and Allison’s story suspenseful for the reader after Beau’s guilt is established. For Allison to feel she has won her case, Beau’s punishment must correspond to the severity of his crime.

By pointing out that Shaun Donovan was a former employee of Beau’s attorney, Milt Datsopoulos, Krakauer suggests that Donovan may have a conflict of interest that prevents him from properly prosecuting Allison’s case. Donovan’s allegiance to his former boss might make him more willing to cooperate with the defense and less willing to insist on a harsher maximum sentence. When Donovan requests that Allison not speak to federal investigators, his behavior is ethically suspect. Donovan lies to Allison when he says that speaking to federal investigators might hurt her case against Beau. What’s more likely is that Donovan is worried that federal investigators will see that he is doing a subpar job prosecuting Allison’s case. Allison’s observation that added pressure from the Department of Justice would mean added pressure on Beau and his attorney is probably accurate, but Donovan’s self-interest outweighs his commitment to Allison’s case. Donovan hypocritically suggests that he plans on offering a lenient sentence to Beau because, should Beau decline the settlement and take the case to trial, testifying would be too hard for Allison.

Meanwhile, Beau’s actions still continue to negatively affect Allison’s. Krakauer shows how Beau’s actions have imprisoned Allison in her own anxiety. She has to be careful where she goes or who she sees in Missoula. As the reader learns, being in the wrong place at the wrong time might result in threats against Allison’s life. Even Allison’s old friends, like Sam Erschler, to whom Allison went for support after Beau raped her, have turned against her now that Beau is facing punishment. It is not easy for rape victims to pursue justice against their rapists. As Missoula progresses, it becomes clearer why most rape victims never report their rapes to law enforcement. Doing so results in a tremendous ordeal.