Surviving the Shadowman by Lesley Greyling

Surviving the Shadowman is a memoir of Greyling’s horrific physical and sexual assault in South Africa. While experiencing trouble with the company’s bakkie (or truck) as she was driving en route to one of her job assignments, Greyling was unexpectedly nabbed and dragged into a dense bush and was brutally raped. Stabbed several times, Greyling was left there to die until workers located and transported her to a local hospital just in the nick of time. Greyling takes readers from her gruesome journey and hospital and clinical experiences to her remarkable yet ongoing physical and emotional recovery.

Greyling’s debut account is nothing less than candid. Undoubtedly, many aspects of her story are difficult to read. To ease the tension regarding a plethora of traumatic scenes, Greyling deftly alternates between her surgeries and counseling sessions with reflections on her past life. Although those reflections helped her identify with the old and a new Lesley, Greyling came to terms with the fact that if she wanted to survive, she needed to learn to love herself. Aptly put, Greyling closes with these words:  “I have helped rape survivors deal with trauma, have had students I have taught come to me privately and tell me their own stories, or disclose their HIV status to me, and I am grateful to have been there for them, to be the one person they could turn to. It has helped me heal. And I am STILL healing.” While Greyling”s story is undeniably an intense read, it is also extremely encouraging for those who understand her pain. Indeed, her narrative is a work of healing for others.