Book Review: Eggshell Skull: A memoir about standing up, speaking out and fighting back by Bri Lee

Eggshell Skull is a memoir by a really strong and brave young woman who didn’t realise her strength until she found herself in a situation out of her control. A situation she started the ball rolling on, without realising how long she would be made to wait for justice.

I picked up this book because Amanda from Mrs B’s Book Reviews gave it such a high recommendation. I was wary though about the subject matter of child sexual assault and abuse, adult sexual assault and rape being triggers, but I coped well, maybe like Bri herself, I’ve have gotten stronger.

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Bri starts off her story at the beginning of her law career, in her year as a judges associate. Through doing the judges circuit around Qld she hears many terrible cases of sexual abuse on children and women in particular, but also on men. As she herself is triggered by these people’s stories, we find out that she has been sexually assaulted as a child, and the long term affect this has had on her. From watching and listening to these stories and cases, Bri also gains the strength and realisation that she needs to face her abuse and her abuser in order to get on with her own life in a healthy way.

The statistics on these kinds of cases are staggering, and as Bri carries on, she finds out how many people she knows who have been victims of abuse It’s hard to acknowledge how prevalent this is in our society. We also learn how few people come forward and report the abuse, and when they do, how few of those cases actually get charged and then how few of those go through the legal system to receive any kind of justice.

She starts the legal ball rolling on a journey that will take almost 2 years to come to and end. Through that time we see her struggle, the abuse she inflicts upon herself throughout the story and the many feelings of low self worth she suffers, just like many people who have been abused. Bri is extremely lucky, she has the support of her family and her partner behind her, as well as Judge, the man she worked for on the circuit who has become a friend.

Bri falls apart often, but she picks herself up again everytime and carries on, fighting for justice against her abuser and against the legal system. I can’t say I was shocked by how badly our legal system let’s down the victims of crime, but it was extremely eye-opening and heartbreaking to read about those peoples stories as Bri travels on the circuit and as she wonders if she herself will receive justice.

I take my hat off to all the people that do take the step to bring their abuser to justice in such a terribly flawed legal system. The law has changed over the years, but we still aren’t where we need to be. Women are still too often not believed, are called liars or told they are overreacting and that it was their fault it happened. Things need to change, fast. Attitudes need to change.

A highly confronting story by a brave and strong young women, who by fighting for justice for herself and telling her story, may be a catalyst for others to tell theirs, for them also to be willing to fight and for the stigma of sexual assault to be challenged.

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I found this poem which I thought was worth a listen, and maybe a share. We need to get the message out.   She Asked For It – Mizan The Poet

 

About the book: ‘Scorching, self-scouring: a young woman finds her steel and learns to wield it’ – Helen Garner

EGGSHELL SKULL: A well-established legal doctrine that a defendant must ‘take their victim as they find them’. If a single punch kills someone because of their thin skull, that victim’s weakness cannot mitigate the seriousness of the crime.

But what if it also works the other way? What if a defendant on trial for sexual crimes has to accept his ‘victim’ as she comes: a strong, determined accuser who knows the legal system, who will not back down until justice is done?

Bri Lee began her first day of work at the Queensland District Court as a bright-eyed judge’s associate. Two years later she was back as the complainant in her own case.

This is the story of Bri’s journey through the Australian legal system; first as the daughter of a policeman, then as a law student, and finally as a judge’s associate in both metropolitan and regional Queensland-where justice can look very different, especially for women. The injustice Bri witnessed, mourned and raged over every day finally forced her to confront her own personal history, one she’d vowed never to tell. And this is how, after years of struggle, she found herself on the other side of the courtroom, telling her story.

Bri Lee has written a fierce and eloquent memoir that addresses both her own reckoning with the past as well as with the stories around her, to speak the truth with wit, empathy and unflinching courage. Eggshell Skull is a haunting appraisal of modern Australia from a new and essential voice.

‘Brutal, brave and utterly compelling . . . I can’t remember a book I devoured with such intensity, nor one that moved me so profoundly’ Rebecca Starford, author of Bad Behaviour and co-founder of Kill Your Darlings

‘Courageous, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful’ Liam Pieper, author of The Toymaker

‘Sensitive and clear-eyed’ Jessica Friedmann, author of Things That Helped

‘A page-turner of a memoir, impossible to put down’ Krissy Kneen, author of An Uncertain Grace.

 

 

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