A Review of Don’t: a Woman’s Word

            Real bravery is when a person is capable of facing what is painful and sharing what is unbearable to become free and for others to learn from these experiences. Elly Danica’s book entitled Don’t: a Woman’s Word is a powerful, courageous, and haunting book that narrates the story of a woman who had to go through a very difficult life because of an abusive father who sexually harassed her, used her for pornographic purposes, and even sold her to child prostitution. The themes of the book may be sensitive and controversial, but the whole story is an enlightening view of women fighters and survivors.  It is a commendable reading especially for women because it tackles the inner strength of the female gender and students interested in learning what a successful literature should be because of the creative way it is written.

The title of the book itself suggests that the protagonist of the story is a survivor and she defiantly fought for her survival. The emphasis on the word don’t, not only in the title but in the whole text as well, makes readers aware of the suffering that women experience from the society and even from their own homes. The word served as a voice of freedom and equal rights that the protagonists wanted for her own and for all the women in the world.  Written from the point of view of the woman that was experiencing molestation, the story translates of how sexual violence ruins many lives of innocent women. It is a crime that is hard to have power over or resolve, especially for those who are victims in their own homes. All the different scenarios of rape that were described in the book were all caused by the father, emphasizing the terrors of incest.

The book described how women are being exposed to pornography, violence, and harassment at a very young age. One of the most powerful statements of the book was how the protagonist described how her father “killed all that was beautiful in” her by his abusive acts (Danica, 1988, p. 9). All throughout her growing years, nobody believed that she was being raped. At first, she did not understand the defilement on her own to. She kept asking what her father is doing to her and why he is hurting her. Even adults around her did not take her story seriously and even accused her of lying and making wrong accusations. The suffering she was going through was so horrifying that readers could surely imagine her helplessness and pain.

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The book also described revealing moments when the protagonist felt angry and frustrated to the world for leaving her alone to deal with her appalling father.  It even reached a point when she felt her faith slipping away as she began believing that her God must be “deaf to the pleas of the children” because she continued to experience different forms of abuses in her young life (Danica, 1988, p. 16). All throughout her life, she lived confused, angry, and in pain. Her sufferings are enough to also make her want to die or to remain sick so that her father will not touch her. Suicide even became an option for her. But she survived and she even managed to tell her story. Her personal and truthful narration in this book makes it an exemplary weapon for woman who wants find purpose for every suffering they are going through.

The book is not just a story of abuses, anguish, and hardships for it also narrates a story of hope and finding a meaningful future to survive the pains caused by the past. Each time that the protagonist was being molested or sexually abused, she also fights hard to continue to “remember yearning for innocence” (Danica, 1988, p. 8). Her experiences in different stages of her life almost pushed her to hopelessness and lost of faith. But she kept hoping for salvation and poetically said that she “vow to look for sunshine” amidst the dark life she was living (Danica, 1988, p. 12). For the protagonist, the existence of her soul served as a ray of light to her because it is something that her father cannot reach and take advantage of. As she grows old, she became a man hater and incapable of loving and building a family. But she also managed to find solace in books, in her writing, in people who genuinely cared and expressed concern for her, and in her dreams that gives her purpose to continue living. And even if she chose to be alone in the end, it was enough for her.

            Elly Danica’s work is indeed a very honest and brave masterpiece. The author boldly narrated the horrifying details of forced sexual assault and resulted to a piece of work that directly hits the senses of readers. The book managed to describe not just actual events, but also expertly illustrate the kind of pain that the protagonist was going through. Personally, I think that Danica’s style of writing for this book, which was sarcastic, poetic, and informal all at the same time, was suitable for the depictions she wanted readers to see and feel based on the experiences narrated. The protagonist’s description of death as one that “looks like the man my mother married. His pants down” was a sarcastic but completely honest way of describing how she dies each time her father violates her (Danica, 1988, p. 8). Her writing style had also been consistent all throughout the book. Even if her life continues to be gruesome and filled with sufferings, she managed to remain true to her feelings and use excellent play of words.

Don’t: a Woman’s Word crucially narrates realities that are often given little attention by the world. Abusing women and treating them inferior had been part of the horrible cultural beliefs of the society that should be corrected more explicitly. The reality of incest rape and sexual violence also portray the helplessness that women experience from the community dominated by men. In my opinion, the book is a testament of how these abuses destroy lives and rob the futures of many women, although most cases remain to be unknown to the public. The protagonist of the story is also a proof that a person should manage to fight and to survive for your own self.


Danica, E. (1988). Don’t: A Woman’s Word. Canada: Gynergy Books.



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