Traumatic Geographies: Mapping the Violent Landscapes Driving YA Rape Survivors Indoors in Laurie Halse Anderson’s <em>Speak</em>, Elizabeth Scott’s <em>Living Dead Girl</em>, and E. K. Johnston’s <em>Exit, Pursued by a Bear</em>
The rape of the land and of women has long been connected in literature and across cultures (Phillips). Young Adult (YA) sexual assault narratives are growing increasingly popular, and the location of attacks in such stories is significant, such as when rape is depicted in nature, because, in reality, much sexual violence occurs in the private sphere (Kerber)—the home (Altrows). Using an ecofeminist lens and conceptions regarding the treatment of sexual violence in children’s and YA literature (Marshall, “Stripping”; “Girlhood”), this paper examines Speak (Anderson), Living Dead Girl (Scott), and Exit, Pursued by a Bear (Johnston), which all set rape scenes outdoors. When individuals are violated in outdoor spaces, these sites can come to hold traumatic memories, prompting a shift in survivors’ relationships with the outdoors. For the protagonists in all three novels examined here, outdoor spaces come to represent pain, and so a critical consideration of the setting of sexual assault in these stories—particularly spaces with land, trees, and water—is warranted.