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Take It As A Compliment

by Maria Stoian Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Pub Date:
Hbk 100 pages
AU$44.99 NZ$47.82
Product Status: In Stock Now
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"I was fifteen."
"I never saw him again."
"They chanted after me, 'Oscar the Grouch, Oscar the Grouch."'

Bringing together the voices of males and females of all ages, the stories in this collective graphic memoir reflect real life experiences of sexual abuse, violence and harassment. Each experience is brought to life by Maria Stoian's exceptional artwork. Her unique and varied styles powerfully reflect the tone and mood of the different stories and in just a few pages express the complex emotions felt by victims of sexual abuse.

Covering acts such as sexual violence, public sexual harassment, domestic abuse and child abuse, this is a reminder for survivors that they are not alone and a call for all of us to take action. The stories clearly show that assault of any type is not an honour bestowed on anyone. It is not a compliment.

1. 'I was fifteen.' 2. 'I didn't go outside for weeks.' 3. 'The feelings of betrayal, guilt and self-hate cannot be described in existing words.' 4. 'I was fifteen.' 5. 'I have never told so many strangers not to touch me as I did in Times Square.' 6. 'I was at a bus stop in Edinburgh.' 7. 'I was terrified and did all of these things I was too young to comprehend for fear of being yelled at.' 8. 'Maybe I am too nice.' 9. 'I never saw him again.' 10. 'I have no idea what could have happened if any of those things hadn't been in my favour that night.' 11. 'Something like this, you just don't forget. It lingers and kills you slowly, until you learn to move on.' 12. 'A little bird told me he didn't see what the big deal was.' 13. 'It's hard to describe the stare, you'd best understand it by how I felt: disgusted.' 14. 'They chanted after me, 'Oscar the Grouch, Oscar the Grouch...'' 15. 'I don't know how old I was, but I was pre-pubescent.' 16. 'I didn't have any more words; I was too angry and too shocked all at once.' 17. 'I hope he listened.' 18. 'Maybe I am too nice.' 19. 'I chose a desk in the opposite corner from the door, hidden behind cubicle walls, in hopes I'd have privacy and she wouldn't find me. But she did.' 20. 'I just laid there on the ground beside my bed, numb, for a very long time.'

What is present in every story is the lingering shame, loneliness and helplessness of its subject. Some of them are able to stand up for themselves, others aren't sure that their discomfort is valid, but all are given respect by Stoian in her attempt to raise awareness of aggressive behaviour that is often considered a societal norm (...) while her creative and varied illustrations are essential additions to the tone and power of the compilation, it is language that is Stoian's most significant achievement in this project. By having each story told by the person who survived it, she has conceived a method to talk about the effects of abuse, giving a voice to individuals that may have never had the opportunity to share their experience before (...) Take It as a Compliment is the furthest thing from a light read as it's possible to be, but its controversial content, whilst harrowing, it never off-putting. With composition as beautiful as the stories are ugly, the book challenges the reader to support social change through recognition and acceptance of what constitutes sexual harassment and abuse. The collection is an important step in reducing the amount of stories there are to tell.
Maria Stoian is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Scotland. She freelances for InclusIQ, which creates games that help companies to deal with internalised bias in the workplace. Maria is interested in the way illustration and games can be a non-aggressive way of encouraging people to recognise when they might be biased. Take It As A Compliment was Maria's Master's project at Edinburgh College of Art.