Look Alive

Date of Graduation


Document Type

MFA Creative Writing Thesis

Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Kevin Oderman

Committee Co-Chair

Christa Parravani-Swofford

Committee Member

Lisa Weihman


When I was eighteen I was violently raped during my first weekend at college. I was beaten and strangled. I woke bruised, covered in my own blood, and with no memory. After, I struggled to overcome amnesia and the onset of Major Depression, with bouts of Schizophrenia. I coped with alcohol. I coped with drugs. I coped with sex.;Though the catalyst of my narrative is rape (and my fight to cope with the lingering horrors of sexual trauma), the wholeness of my memoir resides in my journey to regain my identity and earn my sense of womanhood. After the rape, I was left longing for a past I could barely recall. I was alone in an unfamiliar landscape, haunted by the hallucinations of my rapist and pervasive flashbacks which led to pursuits of suicide. I wanted to return to the home that harbored all the small pieces of happiness that I held on to---a place where I had grown in faith and familial love.;When I returned to Manassas, Virginia, I found myself as utterly changed as my home. I was stripped like the land. The hillsides were carved-open, the forests and farms demolished. My home no longer offered me the safety that I yearned for. My family, upon learning about the rape, grew distant and cautious, and so I became a stranger to my home. This distance allowed me to see all the violence that had been lurking throughout my life. There was the violence of my hometown: its Civil War history, its destruction of the natural landscape, its overwhelming gang violence. There was the violence of my childhood and family: the thin veneer of death and hatred in my Catholic upbringing, my father's work as a nuclear strategist for the Strategic Defense Initiative during the Cold War, all those bedtime stories driven by hunts, and guns, and ghosts. And then, the violence of womanhood: having my first period at eight-years-old, warring between sexual-desire and sexual-shame, the murder of my best friend.;While I struggled to heal from my rape I was faced with all these facets of pain. I found my redemption, and healing, by facing them and tending them instead of turning away.

Embargo Reason

Permanent Embargo – MFA Creative Writing

Available for download on Friday, January 02, 2043