It took Julie Macfarlane a lifetime to say the words out loud—the words that finally broke the calm and traveled farther than she could have imagined. In this clear-eyed account, she confronts her own silence and deeply rooted trauma to chart a remarkable course from sexual abuse victim to agent of change.
Going Public merges the worlds of personal and professional, activism and scholarship. Drawing upon decades of legal training, Macfarlane decodes the well-worn methods used by church, school, and state to silence survivors, from first reporting to cross-examination to non-disclosure agreements. At the same time, she lays bare the isolation and exhaustion of going public in her own life, as she takes her abuser to court, challenges her colleagues, and weathers a defamation lawsuit.
The result is far more than a memoir. It’s a courageous and essential blueprint for going toe-to-toe with the powers behind institutional abuse and protectionism. Macfarlane’s experiences bring her to the most important realization of her life: that no one but she can make the decision to stand up and speak about what happened to her.
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“Going Public is truly unique. It is embodied sexual violence scholarship that brings ‘the personal is political’ and ‘the political is personal’ to life. Macfarlane’s critical reflections on her own victimization, survival, resistance, advocacy, and activism are central to her insight and legal analysis. The result is simultaneously painful, inspiring, challenging, demoralizing, empowering, and practical, with recommendations for changes to civil and criminal law and institutional approaches for dealing with sexual violence. A must read.”
– Charlene Y. Senn, professor and Canada Research Chair in Sexual Violence (CIHR) Department of Psychology / Women’s and Gender Studies at University of Windsor
“This memoir, manifesto, an honest cri de coeur all wrapped in one of what sexual violence and abuse does to women must be read by all who seek justice, truth, reforms of a distorted legal system, and accountability for institutional cover-ups. Going Public is a page-turner of truth, bravery, persistence and morality by a leader of reform in the justice system. How she sought, and eventually gained, some small modicum of justice as she moved from legal professional to activist litigant is an extraordinary story.”
– Carrie Menkel Meadow, Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine and Georgetown University Law Center (Emerita)
“Professor Julie Macfarlane provides a fascinating and invaluable insight into civil litigation involving sexual abuse claims and modern rape trials. Her openness and courage in disclosing her own experience of sexual abuse and her fight to improve institutional responses demonstrate a moral courage of awe-inspiring dimensions.”
– Jennifer Temkin, Professor of Law at City, University of London
“Julie Macfarlane dedicated her career to improving access to justice in Canada. After breaking her silence, Macfarlane’s personal search for justice will inspire readers. Going Public is more than a #MeToo memoir; it is a call to action to fundamentally change institutional responses to sexual violence.”
– Mandi Gray, activist and subject of the documentary Slut or Nut: Diary of a Rape Trial
“This book resonated with me both personally and professionally. We have many examples of institutions failing survivors, but only now are we starting to formally document the stories of complainants who have experienced institutional betrayal after reporting and the acute affects it has on their lives. It is time that we speak frankly about these issues in all their complexities out in the open instead of behind closed doors. Dr. Macfarlane is helping us do just that.”
– Connor Spencer, National Chair of Students for Consent Culture Canada (2018-2020)
“Few victims are brave enough to lay matters out in a comprehensive way especially to strangers no matter how genuine and interested those people are. I salute Dr. Macfarlane’s understanding that a book written not from an academic perspective, but a personal one, will be incredibly illuminating and help other victims understand that they are not alone.”
– Wayne Barkauskas, Q.C., Family law lawyer, mediator and parenting coordinator based in Calgary, Alberta
|Chapter 1||Private Grief|
|Chapter 2||Public Denial|
|Chapter 3||Fighting Back|
|Chapter 4||Going Public|
|Chapter 5||From Law Professor to Litigant|
|Chapter 6||Holding My Institution to Account|
|Chapter 7||On the Stand|