This is an important work of fiction for all young women to read. Stacey Woods was raped when she was 17. After the event, like so many others before her, she was too ashamed to confide in either family or friends and, like so many other women, she blamed herself. This timely offering from Anne Cassidy helps victims to see that they are just that – not perpetrators or collaborators, but victims. More than this, it provides practical help with how to deal with the very difficult issues surrounding such an assault.
Stacey lives with her mother, her sister Jodie and Jodie’s baby Tyler. Relations between Stacey and her sister are strained, not helped by her mother’s indulgences with Jodie and her acceptance of Jodie’s failure to take responsibility for Tyler. Her best friend Patrice, always widely popular, is loyal to her but cannot understand why she won’t confide what is clearly troubling her and when Stacey won’t speak she temporarily seeks out the company of a less complicated friend.
Harry homes in on Stacey in a café, noticing her fashion sketches and begins to groom her for his brother, promising to introduce her to a fashion buyer, sympathising with her fraught family relationships, offering the use of his brother’s empty flat. Here Cassidy clearly demonstrates how clever groomers are – listening carefully, picking up important clues, feigning interest – even attraction – to get their way.
When Harry starts to show a sexual interest in Stacey she is flattered, attracted, eager, but after an afternoon of a little too much drink at his brother Marty’s flat he rapes her, with the usual reasoning that it was all just a bit of fun, she had led his brother on and no-one had been hurt. Marty even compounds her humiliation by giving her money. When Stacey tracks down an ex-girlfriend of Harry’s and finds that the same thing happened to her she confides in Patrice and they go together to a Rape Crisis Centre to ensure that justice is done.
In No Virgin Anne Cassidy has written a novel which will echo the experiences of far too many innocent and vulnerable young women. In addition, she has given them a strong message about the tricks of grooming and the knowledge that there is somewhere women in Stacey’s position can go where they will be listened to without criticism, believed and helped.