Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention

Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention

In this "compelling and disturbing" true story (Rebecca Traister), a young woman's toxic mentor develops a dark, stalking obsession that disrupts her career -- and her peace of mind. Donna Freitas has lived two lives. In one life, she is a well-published author and respected scholar who has traveled around the country speaking about Title IX, consent, religion, and sex on...

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Title:Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention
Author:Donna Freitas
Rating:

Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention Reviews

  • Steff Pasciuti

    by Donna Freitas is a rough book to read. Detailing the account of a young woman pursuing a PhD in her early twenties as she is subjected to the unwanted attentions of a Professor in her program. It is a very personal story to the author and yet it is a story that, while some pieces are changed and some have come out worse than others, many women in the world have experienced at one point or another. Whether it is the case of a stalker, as with Donna Freitas or sexual harassment that tak

    by Donna Freitas is a rough book to read. Detailing the account of a young woman pursuing a PhD in her early twenties as she is subjected to the unwanted attentions of a Professor in her program. It is a very personal story to the author and yet it is a story that, while some pieces are changed and some have come out worse than others, many women in the world have experienced at one point or another. Whether it is the case of a stalker, as with Donna Freitas or sexual harassment that takes darker turns. But what they all have in common, and something I believe many people have a tendency to ignore, downplay, or forget is that they all leave a lasting and deeply traumatic effect on their subjects.

    Reading the account of a woman who spent a large and rather important portion of her life dealing with the unwanted affections of a stalker, especially when it has been something that you experienced yourself, is deeply troubling and difficult to read. And it unveils a rather disconcerting truth that many of us are aware of but have not consistently fought until recently. It breaks my heart to know how prevalent it has been for men to take advantage of women in this society, particularly those men in power.

    was a troubling account, dark and uncomfortable to read. It was thoroughly brave for Freitas to publish and was an especially important commentary on the disgraces of the systems that were meant to protect and help women in these situations but only ever really served to protect the abusers and their institutions. The memoir discusses the long-lasting effect that such horrifying events leave upon their victims and the difficulties with which victims consistently have in placing blame solely on those who have hurt them.

    While it doesn't quite get into the intricacies and horrors of rape, for consent does not begin with sex, 

    does touch deeply on the intricacies of what we consent to and what we do not, when we avoid in order to be polite and what we put up with because we are fearful of the things someone with power over our lives--whether that power is over our jobs, our futures, our families, or something else entirely--can take or destroy.

    Freitas' abuser destroyed much in her life, left her with a deep trauma that took years of therapy to manage and still has not been repaired. No amount of retribution could really ever make up for the losses suffered on account of the fear and damage that such an event has on one's life. So much ignorance exists around these subjects that I genuinely believe the existence of books that account these events have the very real potential to change the course of societal thought on toxic masculinity for what and why men feel entitled to ignore consent and coerce until they get what they want.

    While I would definitely recommend this book, I will say that it could be traumatic for some and is one to seriously consider prior to reading as some bits may be rather triggering.

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  • Christina Billhartz

    This book is a testament to the voices of sexual harassment victims that are silenced every day!

    Freitas was a bright-eyed PhD candidate at Georgetown who was inspired and passionate about her future as a professor when her life started to take a dark turn. Eager to get the most out of her studies, she frequently attended her professors' office hours to further engage with the material. Professor L., a Catholic priest whose stature at the university meant that he would play a major role in her di

    This book is a testament to the voices of sexual harassment victims that are silenced every day!

    Freitas was a bright-eyed PhD candidate at Georgetown who was inspired and passionate about her future as a professor when her life started to take a dark turn. Eager to get the most out of her studies, she frequently attended her professors' office hours to further engage with the material. Professor L., a Catholic priest whose stature at the university meant that he would play a major role in her dissertation and career, began to take an interest in her as she continued to frequent his office after class.

    At first it seemed innocent enough, as though he saw her intelligence and potential, but soon enough the lines began to blur. Before she knew it, he was calling her on numbers she hadn't given him, and showing up at addresses she hadn't given him. Even though she began to feel uncomfortable, Freitas told herself that she was just overreacting.... He was a Catholic priest with a celibacy vow... Of course it couldn't be anything more than the attentions of a caring professor, right? Yet things continued to get worse: he would beg her to go away with him or to go to plays with him, he would call her incessantly and write her multiple letters a day, he would show up outside of her classrooms, write letters to her mom, and even write an article confessing his love for her.

    Because Freitas' situation unfolded before the sexual abuse and scandal of the Catholic church was exposed, not only did she have to grapple with the stalking and harassment, but she had to come to terms with what this meant about the religion she had grown up with and her family revered.

    Through telling her story of sexual harassment, Freitas gives voice to the many doubts that women in similar situations face. He didn't actually rape me, so it's not that bad, right? What if nobody believe me? What if because there's never been any physical component to the harassment nothing will be done about it? How do you explicitly say no to someone who holds so much power over you and your future? How do you explicitly say no to someone who is your elder, a religious figure, and your professor? Is it because of something I did or the way that I dressed? Did I somehow give him a signal that this is what I wanted? Is it my fault?

    I don't know a single woman who hasn't faced these same or similar questions, and Freitas, through her own experience, sheds light on some of the answers and some of the shades of grey regarding consent that accompany them.

    In the era of the #Me Too movement, Consent provides a beacon of hope that no matter how many times institutions try to silence us, we can speak up. We can tell our stories.

  • Emerald Stacy

    While not a fun read, this book is incredibly powerful. The author finds her voice to speak her truth, including the self doubt that comes from long term gaslighting. Absolutely incredible.

  • Janet

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it.

    A powerful memoir about a young woman's toxic relationship with her mentor, an acclaimed professor, whose dark, stalking obsession altered her future forever.

    Donna Freitas has lived two lives. In one life, she is a well-published author and respected scholar who has travelled around the coun

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it.

    A powerful memoir about a young woman's toxic relationship with her mentor, an acclaimed professor, whose dark, stalking obsession altered her future forever.

    Donna Freitas has lived two lives. In one life, she is a well-published author and respected scholar who has travelled around the country speaking about Title IX, consent, religion, and sex on college campuses. In the other, she is a victim, a woman who suffered and suffers still because she was stalked by her graduate professor for more than two years.

    As a doctoral candidate, Freitas loved asking big questions, challenging established theories and sinking her teeth into sacred texts. She felt at home in the library, and safe in the book-lined offices of scholars whom she admired. But during her first year, one particular scholar became obsessed with Freitas' academic enthusiasm. He filled her student mailbox with letters and articles. He lurked on the sidewalk outside her apartment. He called daily and left nagging voicemails. He befriended her mother and made himself comfortable in her family's home. He wouldn't go away. While his attraction was not overtly sexual, it was undeniably inappropriate, and most importantly--unwanted.

    In Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention, Donna Freitas delivers a forensic examination of the years she spent stalked by her professor, and uses her nightmarish experience to examine the ways in which we stigmatize, debate, and attempt to understand consent today.

    This was not an easy book to read: but it should *not* be something that is easy to read as it is deep and powerful and touching. Miss Freitas went through HELL and came out with a positive side of it in her ability to write about and share her story.

    Side note: as a Canadian, I had to look up what Title X meant (this definition is from

    )

    Title IX Defined. No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. (Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972)

    Her story is dark and gritty and downright uncomfortable and it is a must-read for anyone who is in a book club as it needs to be shared and discussed. She writes it in a clear and understanding manner and does not come off as a harpy, which is great for ANY autobiography.

    #greatread

  • Anita Pomerantz

    Consent is a brilliantly rendered memoir authored by a woman, Donna Freitas, who dreamed of being a professor. Unfortunately, she encountered a huge hurdle to realizing her dreams when a professor, a priest no less, became obsessed with her.

    Let’s just say that the most compelling part of this book is the complete candor with which it is written, but that is closely followed by the beautiful use of language. Parts of the story are poetically rendered; others have more of an academic cast, and so

    Consent is a brilliantly rendered memoir authored by a woman, Donna Freitas, who dreamed of being a professor. Unfortunately, she encountered a huge hurdle to realizing her dreams when a professor, a priest no less, became obsessed with her.

    Let’s just say that the most compelling part of this book is the complete candor with which it is written, but that is closely followed by the beautiful use of language. Parts of the story are poetically rendered; others have more of an academic cast, and some parts are simply deeply personal.

    What makes this book so fascinating is that Donna tells her story in such vivid detail, including her innermost thoughts and her tremendous self doubt. It does help the reader to understand how a situation can start innocuously enough, but then by the time the victim realizes what is happening, she no longer feels empowered to stop it.

    Her view of herself in hindsight is so interesting. She never really is able to reconcile her image of herself as an attractive person, in control of her sexuality, filled with passion for a life of the mind with a person who was victimized, but when I read about her family background and her propensity for leaning so hard into her studies, building very close relationships with her teachers from a young age, I do see some red flags. Unfortunately, she managed to come into contact with a predator who, with little more than psychological manipulation, invaded her life. She shows how it happened through her unique lens, and the reader experiences the horror of it. She asks why me, and then I personally think some readers will see the answer – yet she remains unsure. Sadly, the ending is not as satisfying as one hopes for throughout, but it is instructive.

    There was a lot I would have liked to discuss about this book, so I think it would be extremely good for book clubs. I walked away with more questions than before I read her account.

    All in all, I found the author to be extremely brave to tackle this topic the way that she did, for the world to read. Five stars all the way.

    #NetGalley

  • Jenna Bookish

    My thanks to Little, Brown and Company for sending me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher. 

    Consent was a difficult read in some respects; it was difficult to see the author recount her trauma, but more than that, it was difficult to think about the excuses she internally made for her stalker before things escalated out of control. Most women have been there, with varying degrees of severity. (Maybe he does

    My thanks to Little, Brown and Company for sending me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher. 

    Consent was a difficult read in some respects; it was difficult to see the author recount her trauma, but more than that, it was difficult to think about the excuses she internally made for her stalker before things escalated out of control. Most women have been there, with varying degrees of severity. (Maybe he doesn't realize he's being inappropriate? Maybe I'm being overly sensitive and he's not actually being inappropriate at all? Maybe I said/did/wore something that made him think this behavior would be welcome?)

    This memoir is a an engrossing exploration of blurry lines of consent and the harassers who rely on plausible deniability to get away with their behavior. Donna Freitas was an enthusiastic student who loved getting to know her professors. This is probably part of why it took her a while to see that her abuser's intentions were less than innocent. But a large part of this was probably also due to the professor's intentionally chipping away at boundaries slowly, so as to acclimate his target to his attentions. By the time things escalated to the point that Freitas felt the need to get outside help, she'd already been in over her head for quite some time. The memoir does an excellent job of illuminating the process abusers of all sorts often use on those they target; things start small and often escalate slowly, all while the victim is questioning whether they're crazy to feel uncomfortable at every step. 

    While this was at times an emotionally taxing read, I definitely recommend it to fans of memoirs and feminist works. The author's exploration of consent, gaslighting, trauma, and institutions that shield powerful men from consequences are all important and timely. 

    You can read all of my reviews on my blog,

    !

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  • Jennifer

    This memoir is complicated for me to review. It tells a story of how the author's professor, who was also a priest, mentor and department chair, chose and stalked his prey, a young woman eager to learn. There were several insights about harassment and abuse that I gleaned from the book, and I've included those notes below. But the book was difficult to read in part because of the content but mostly because the author drags out parts of the story and spends pages discussing a minute part of the s

    This memoir is complicated for me to review. It tells a story of how the author's professor, who was also a priest, mentor and department chair, chose and stalked his prey, a young woman eager to learn. There were several insights about harassment and abuse that I gleaned from the book, and I've included those notes below. But the book was difficult to read in part because of the content but mostly because the author drags out parts of the story and spends pages discussing a minute part of the story, perhaps in an effort to make the book longer or to psychoanalyze the situation.

    I do believe this story needs to be told, and I'm grateful Donna Freitas chose to tell it. Women and men should understand how harassment and stalking feel and know that they do have a voice.

    Insights:

    *What they wanted was my voice. Women's tongues are dangerous when they let us keep them.

    *I know that I should be capable of telling myself what I tell college students who've been assaulted and harassed like I was: It's not your fault. Don't blame yourself. And yet, I am unable to convince myself of this.

    *Death of a treasured spot to me - everywhere she and he went together or where he stalked her.

    *Professor L knew the way to my heart. (Predators study prey.)

    *His attention made me feel special.

    *You begin to doubt your judgment about everything (when your harasser doesn't accept no for an answer and continues to contrive ways to connect with you or when he/she turns the blame onto you).

    *Professor L carefully calculated stalking behavior from the get-go.

    *I wanted to give him a benefit of the doubt (mostly because he was her mentor, a priest, respected in the school, community and world).

    *I did NOT consent. No way. But I kept my non-consent to myself. I was still too afraid to express my resistance openly.

    *And I felt so ashamed. I felt many kids of ashamed.

    *Saying no, really saying it firmly, was out of the question for a long, long time--until his behavior grew so intolerable and so out of control and so obsessive and unyielding that I no longer cared about my future or what might happen if I offended him. Until I was so desperate and broken that I didn't want a future anymore at all.

    *I colluded with my stalker's behavior, as a way of preserving my own sanity.

    *My initial consent to his behavior could not be ungiven. This man would continue to see how I was in the beginning and refuse to see how I soon became once my feelings about his behavior shifted.

    *A shift occurred on the night my cover story had fallen apart.

    *Victims must own the power of naming what they're experiencing.

    *Mandatory reporting is like being violated all over again. It takes away the victim's voice and makes him/her confront reality before he/she is ready.

    *I needed my own voice.

    *Trauma is funny like that. It helps a person bury something so deeply that they literally don't remember it's there--until they do. (It shows up at strange times.)

    *Replace the word "but" with "and" because two seemingly opposing things can be held in tension.

    *I am no longer afraid.

  • Erin

    This is the type of non fiction that can be really difficult to rate. The author, Donna Freitas is detailing the lengthy pursuit of a stalker during her grad school time at Georgetown University. This happened in the 90's and as Donna takes us through the increasingly difficult situation that she lived in, it becomes increasingly clear how far her pursuer will go. It's Donna's story and she

    This is the type of non fiction that can be really difficult to rate. The author, Donna Freitas is detailing the lengthy pursuit of a stalker during her grad school time at Georgetown University. This happened in the 90's and as Donna takes us through the increasingly difficult situation that she lived in, it becomes increasingly clear how far her pursuer will go. It's Donna's story and she's walking in her truth and I know that it couldn't have been easy to have it published for a bunch of strangers to read. I applaud her for this.

    Truthfully, that's why it's difficult for me to rubber stamp it with a 3 star. But given the difficult topic, it's not one that I would easily recommend to just anyone.

    Goodreads review published 19/07/19

    Publication Date 13/08/19

  • Rae

    Read this review and others on my blog:

    Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention by Donna Freitas is Donna’s account of the stalking and unwanted attention she faced as a graduate in college.

    Donna is a well-published author, a scholar, and knowledgeable in her field, of sex, religion, and consent on college campuses. She’s a sought after speaker and thrives in academia.

    Donna is a doctor, a daughter, and a friend. But she’s also a victim.

    As a college graduate, one of

    Read this review and others on my blog:

    Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention by Donna Freitas is Donna’s account of the stalking and unwanted attention she faced as a graduate in college.

    Donna is a well-published author, a scholar, and knowledgeable in her field, of sex, religion, and consent on college campuses. She’s a sought after speaker and thrives in academia.

    Donna is a doctor, a daughter, and a friend. But she’s also a victim.

    As a college graduate, one of her professors at her Catholic university–a priest–started taking an inappropriate interest in her. While his attentions weren’t blatantly sexual, they were incessant and unwanted. This priest would call Donna, follow Donna, and fill her mailboxes with letters.

    Since he was in a position of power, Donna struggled with how to handle her stalker. He was everywhere. She couldn’t get away from him.

    Consent is an in-depth examination of Donna’s nightmarish years as a doctoral candidate being stalked by her professor.

    Consent by Donna Freitas was a fascinating read. While it didn’t blow me away, I enjoyed it.

    It’s so easy to think of harassment as black and white. Is sending a few letters and making a few phone calls really harassment? Donna does a wonderful job exploring consent and what that really means. Donna didn’t consent to her professor’s attentions. She was an unwilling participant who was subjected to her professor’s repeated and unwanted affection. And her professor was positively relentless in his quest to commandeer Donna’s time.

    Unwanted attention is not consent, and this is not okay. Stalking is very real and can be just as damaging as other forms of harassment.

    While Donna’s life and hardships were interesting, a lot of the book was redundant. Consent could have been a lot shorter and more enjoyable without the needless repetition.

    If you enjoy memoirs, you might enjoy Consent by Donna Freitas!

    Thank you to NetGalley for providing the Kindle version of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Donna Hines

    While I appreciate the fact this is an intelligent young woman who experienced what she deemed as 'unwanted' actions from a man I cannot understand the notion of still classifying oneself as a victim.

    For those of us who lived through abuse as in my case with a malignant narcissist and with a MPA/CJ degree who was left for dead with three kids I can say the last word I'd use to describe myself is as a victim.

    If you survive abuse you are a survivor.

    While this shows how easy and quickly the actions

    While I appreciate the fact this is an intelligent young woman who experienced what she deemed as 'unwanted' actions from a man I cannot understand the notion of still classifying oneself as a victim.

    For those of us who lived through abuse as in my case with a malignant narcissist and with a MPA/CJ degree who was left for dead with three kids I can say the last word I'd use to describe myself is as a victim.

    If you survive abuse you are a survivor.

    While this shows how easy and quickly the actions of another can impeded upon someone else who doesn't consent it also shows the idea that as women we view ourselves as 'never good enough'.

    Speaking about the abuse or alleged actions is a good start but it seemed that it was a story that while important to tell could've been edited to explain in more detail with help for those experiencing help rather that a cycle of abuse that continued to twirl without a means to an end.

    To empower others is to tell ones story and I thank you for being so open and honest however I wish there was more for others to take away in helping to heal the clearly obvious wounds.

    Time may heal but one may never forget.

    Forgiveness while important may not necessarily allow one to rebuild and it's important to note that financial abuse, physical, sexual, religious, emotional, psychological is all abuse.

    It can take years to overcome so please get help if having difficulty processing.

    Documentation is important with no contact for those dealing with toxicity.

    I must also note I was hoping that more definitive actions to end such abuse would've been taken against the abuser.

    In my case my abuser was arrested, a protection from abuse order issued, a warrant was processed for failure to pay and appear, an ICC Violation was in effect for violation of the PFA, he was removed by Chief of Police to cool off after abusive incident, and on and on.

    For those in the constant fight or flight please note it takes a toll upon ones body and you must make yourself priority number one.

    Thank you for the ARC copy @NetGalley via Aldiko.

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