"A bold and well-constructed work that takes on difficult topics in a compelling way." —Kirkus Review
"This book is a call to action for all of us—women and men. You will want to put it down, but you can’t, because it’s so compelling.” —Marie McKenzie, #1 Amazon bestselling author of Things That Keep Me Up At Night.
“A tour de force true story of surviving and surmounting the unthinkable. Victim is literary nonfiction at its best." —Sally Clark, author of The Way of The Warrior Mama: The Guide To Raising and Protecting Strong Daughters.
Imagine being a carefree, independent young woman enjoying life. Your bold, adventurous spirit pulls you to travel to distant locales. Then out of nowhere, you’re abducted, assaulted, and raped. That is the terror-filled experience that Karen Moe survived almost thirty years ago.
But this is not a crime story. This is not even just a survivor's tale. Instead, this is a manifesto. In dialogue with other feminists and through case studies from around the world, Moe uses her trauma to shine a light on how not only violence against women, but all exploitation, is a natural result of patriarchal hierarchy. Yes, this is Moe’s story of triumph over violence, but it is also a call-to-action for both men and women.
The ultimate goal of Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor is to provide tools for resistance against a culture of exploitation. “In the end, what I have suffered and survived has given me a gift... Now, resistance, fighting for justice, is what I live for. My life is far bigger than myself.”
“Victim is Karen Moe’s impassioned manifesto … Victim is visceral. It is a difficult book to put down. And it is a compelling must-read!” —Victor Malarek, author of The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It.
"Without false optimism, Karen Moe writes of how we can find authentic hope." —Robert Jensen author of The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men.
I’m reading Gabor Maté’s The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture and I’m reminded of a realization I had while researching and writing Victim. The reason I was abducted was because of the emotional abuse I experienced by my father—until I had the blessing of an apology 10 years before his death. All of my life, I knew something was wrong: I was a depressed child, I had crippled self-esteem and, perhaps most importantly, I was terrified of men. Because of that terror, I would become the emotionally abused girl in male presence with the inability to say ‘No.’ This lack of self-preservation is why I was abducted, the narrative thread of Victim. Until I read Maté’s fourth book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, I thought I was making too much out of my childhood experiences, that I was complaining, that things could have been so much worse. And, yes, of course, they could have. However, I came upon a passage that confirmed everything I had felt, everything I had lived as irrelevant. I discovered that the part of the brain that is triggered when sexually abused is the same part that is triggered when emotionally abused. It’s only a matter of degree. This is a section of one of the many instances of emotional abuse and where I discovered that what I had felt all of my life is valid. Thank you Gabor Maté.
Child Sex Trafficking must be talked about. It must be talked about in order to be acknowledged, in order to be felt, in order to be stopped. There is no proof so absolute that a culture built on the exploitation of others and the earth has to be revolutionized than the fact child sex trafficking exists at all. I live in Mexico City most of the time. I'm Canadian. I went there to research violence from a so-called 'third world' perspective. I research and write about violence and exploitation in order to raise awareness, in order to activate empathy, in order for us to collectively do something about it. In the only somewhat negative Amazon review for Victim, I was accused of 'gratuitous' violence. That is: being without apparent reason, cause, or justification. She did not understand why I included hard-hitting, emotional, ideally empathy generating sections on child sex trafficking. Like the movie The Sound of Freedom directed by José Alejandro Gómez and starring Tim Ballard, the whole reason is all of the above. We cannot shy away from this unforgiveable reality. "The rape of a child you know and the rape of a child you don't know are equally unforgiveable." And equally important to end. Besides the story of the Guatemalan children, this section also refers to a child sex slave in Cambodia whose story I also tell in Victim. Like in The Sound of Freedom, both of these stories are true.
I am currently revising my novella. It was originally a part of Victim; however, when I had a big bite from Inkwell in NYC (yes, a bite for my first book, but a big one nonetheless), the agent gave me invaluable advice, one piece being: this is a separate book. It’s called The Quest for the Good Whore: A Satire in 5 Parts (with an Exit). The reason I wrote this half-fictional quest is because the serial rapist who abducted me and had me for almost 24 hours confided that “there is nothing like a good whore …” When his luck dried up coming across young women to abduct and rape, he frequented brothels in Nevada. So, I wrote this quest (and actually went on one too, through the research and the writing). Through this process and all that I learned, I became an absolute sex trade abolitionist (which does not mean abandoning prostituted people which is where the ridiculous SWERF mud-sling comes from with ‘exclusionary.’) My abolitionism originates in the reality that there is nothing beneficial or inevitable about agreeing with a serial rapist. This is a section where I found out there was a sex tourist in my social circle. And, yes, men who travel to third world countries to exploit women and children for sex are very, very common. Because of the PTSD from my personal trauma, I freaked out. Justifiably. Stay tuned for The Quest for the Good Whore. I’m submitting. Interested? email@example.com
There is nothing like a good cliff-hanger to not only keep the pages turning while reading, but also to keep the author's fingers typing while typing. Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor was written in a non-linear style. Based on an abduction and escape that I personally survived, I tease the reader as I write this narrative thread incrementally, leaving them hanging on the edge of their summertime reading chair until I pick up the thread a few pages later. This excerpt is from the beginning of the abduction, before I began to psychologically control the serial rapist, get away and put him in prison for life. Journalist and author Victor Malarek said: "It's a difficult book to put down and a compelling must read!" #1 Amazon bestselling author, Marie McKenzie says: "You will want to put it down, but you can’t, because it’s so compelling.” Not being able to put your book down is one of the greatest complements any author can receive.
I know this is a summer reading promotion, but Father’s Day weekend is coming up and I happen to be in my childhood home, without my father, Richard Moe. He passed away 5 years ago; he passed away ten years after we lived forgiveness. Gabor Maté writes: “[as a parent] our best is circumscribed by our own issues and limitations that originated in our childhoods.” Even though I lived through emotional abuse for most of my life and still struggle with its legacy every day, my dad did his best. If you’ve read the synopsis of my book, you’ll know that it centers around an abduction I survived in 1996. No one in my family talked about it. This added to my trauma. I had no support. I found out later that my dad couldn’t think about it or else he would go down to California and kill the serial rapist. This gave me some comfort when I found that out over ten years later. I’ll suggest this: if you ever have a child who survives trauma, talk to them. Don’t let your fear impede showing them you love them. Nevertheless, despite all of the complexities between my father and I, there was also a lot of love. I was blessed because he apologized to me at the end of his life. This is one of the moments when the apology lay latent, like alpine flowers beneath the snow. Happy Father's Day, Dad.
I've written two posts on my blog "The Logical Feminist" about my niece. My last began: “I don’t think she'll ever read this. And if she does, I hope that will be a good thing, that she will find some validity, some truth in what I'm about to write …” What I predicted would happen has. My niece has hyper-sexualized herself as she has been hyper-sexualized. She pops up on my neglected TikTok account every now and then, like I'm supposed to notice this extent of feminist backlash in order to write about it. Here’s part of the first post: “The first time it happened, I didn’t recognize her at first. She was lip-syncing to a song insulting other women, internalized sexism blasting from this insolent and, dare I say, lethally ignorant, young woman. Her eyelids heavy with hyper-feminine, excessive black lashes, push-up bra cleavage, her beautiful so-recently-still-a-girl face pouting “I’m more fuckable than she is.” My ire flared instantly and I was just about to comment “You’re an idiot,” when I saw her name and recognized her beneath all of the horror I was seconds away from lashing out at. I felt like I was going to puke; rage, panic and heartbreak momentarily darkened all hope and, amidst the gains a lot of women have made at least in the so-called first world, I thought: how the hell did this happen? This toxic backlash has to stop.”
On April 2nd 2023, Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor will have been out in the world for one year. And what a year it has been! I toured the book around the US in April and across Canada in September and October for the Trauma & Triumph Tours and now, in March 2023, the book has come full circle as I brought it to Mexico, where I live half of the time and where I have learned so much about justice and resistance. I also write a lot about what I have learned in Mexico (not only in the book but also essays in Vigilance: Fierce Feminisms Magazine and on my blog The Logical Feminist) so it was wonderful to share it with Mexican university students in Mexico City and Oaxaca City. Victim is also being translated into Spanish. However, the excerpt I am sharing with you for the one year anniversary is where it all began. November 2016, after I had been preparing to write the book of my abduction and escape for 23 years, the first line came to me as a gift: "I have lost the mustard yellow suede jacket from that time." From that line, the book poured out. It is not like writing a book is 'easy'; however, as I tell my students, once you have your first sentence, it is, in a way, written. The energy and intention have been set. You just need to follow. Happy Birthday!
Over the next few weeks, in honour of Mexico and of International Women’s Day, I will be sharing excerpts from some of the things I have learned in Mexico that, in terms of my understanding of systemic violence on a global scale, enriched my book. This focus of Victim that feature Mexico is because on March 8th, 2023 (International Women’s Day), I will be presenting my book at UNAM in Mexico City, the most important university in the country. And, to make it even more exciting, on March 10th, I will be presenting Victim at the Instituto Tecnológico de Oaxaca, the largest public university in the state of Oaxaca. Both of these presentations are so special to me. As a privileged white woman from a so-called First World country, in a country where there are an estimated 12-16 femicides per day and a rape every 2 seconds, it sometimes feels like my personal stories of the sexual violence are hardly relevant. When I was on my Trauma & Triumph Tour across Canada in the fall of 2022, I learned about the horrors of sexual violence that are happening in remote Indigenous communities in my country. I wrote in my journal: “Even though I have been brutalized, I know nothing.” However, regardless of the level of violence, as I say in Victim: all of “[o]ur scarred, vibrant beings are memorials”—sites of vigilance, resistance, and revolution from a culture built with exploitation.
During my North America Trauma & Triumph Tour this year, I ended all of my readings with this excerpt. The part that precedes this is a story of when a man found a missing and murdered woman early in the morning when he was walking his dog. Then, he gave me a gift. This part of the memoir tells the story of the catalyst that shifted my life beyond myself; the moment that I became the feminist activist and revolutionary that I have been ever since; the time when I dedicated my life to fighting a predatory system that sexually assaulted and abducted me so that it won’t happen to others. This part of the manifesto is given directly to all victims and survivors. I will be presenting this gift on my final of 4 Livestream Instagram Readings called “Give the Gift of a World Without Violence” on Saturday the 17th, 12 pm CST. @karenmoeart
With Christmas just around the corner, there is nothing more precious than family. My dad, Richard Moe, passed away on June 28th, 2018. I miss him terribly—maybe more so because we only had the final ten years of his life together with love and not well, to put it lightly, a lot of ‘challenges.’ As a survivor, my book is based on my personal experiences of victimization, survival and triumph. My relationship with my father is one of those triumphs and we became very close at the end of his life. I am very blessed because my father apologized to me for, in his words, “making my life more difficult than it should have been” and, because of his apology and courageous acknowledgement, we were able to live this story of a profound closeness between a father and a daughter. I love you dad! Merry (almost) Christmas!
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