This is one of those thought provoking and disturbing books that will stay with you - not because it is well written (which it is), but because it offers a glimpse behind the curtain into the lives and minds of men who took children and women from their own lives and used them and abused them for their own pleasure. Some of the stories are ones I was already familiar with due to media coverage that was sent around the world, but others are ones I have not seen before and are heartbreakingly similar in the way the victims were bent and twisted by the will of their captor - and in some cases the stories are very shocking because the victims are so young and vulnerable.
I did not pick this book up because I enjoy reading stories about victims, I picked it up because it is an insight into the darker side of human nature - and because it is a difficult subject matter that should be exposed to people who are willing to pick it up and read it. If the parents of young children were to read this book they would be more vigilant about where their children can go and the people they let into their lives, and if young women read this book they might be more careful about the places they go with men who promise them the world, and for people who have survived this kind of abuse it may give them hope and the knowledge they are not alone.
Cawthorne could easily have gone down the road of sensationalism and graphic recounting of the capture and confinement of the victims, but he does not, there are detailed accounts but they are not gratuitously graphic. His writing style lets you feel an amazing amount of empathy for the victims, but not to the point that you feel physically ill about what they faced. There are some truly shocking stories here, and they were perpetrated all around the world - and it makes you realise that there are sick people all over the world.
The stories that make up Against their will include - Jaycee Lee Dugard, Elisabeth Fritzl, Elizabeth Smart, Natascha Kampusch, Steven Stayner, and Katie Beers. Some are well known stories drawn from the media headlines of the past decade or so, while others look further back into the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's. These are shocking stories, but each of them has something to teach us about how we can help prevent further abductions.
This is not a light read, nor is it a book for the faint hearted. There are other stories out there of abuse and neglect of children and women, and some of them are truly horrifying. Take your time reading Against their will and take a break when you need to. If you read this book and want to read other stories from people who have lived through difficult experiences and trauma, then try:
- Parents who kill by Carol Anne Davis
- Etched in sand by Regina Calcaterra
- A child named It by Dave Pelzer
- When rabbit howls by Truddi Chase
- Sickened: The memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood by Julie Gregory
Reviewed by Brilla