From Our Soundbooth | April 01, 2022

**CW: Sexual Assault, Child Abuse**

Hello and welcome to Miller Aud-cast, the Missouri Review podcast where we listen to and discuss the finalists for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize. I’m Marc McKee, TMR’s managing editor. Thank you for being here, wherever here is, for episode 56, “Silent No More,” from Sharon Sobatta.

Sharon Sobotta is a writer, a reporter for Pacifica KPFA in Berkeley, California, the program director of a women’s and gender equity center, a mom and a doula.

Sobatta notes:

I am submitting the story of a woman, June, whose roots are in the same small Wisconsin town as mine. I knew nothing about her (as she’s five years younger than me), until she reached out to me last summer as I was in the thick of covering the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis via zoom interviews. If not for the pandemic, my girls and I would have been in Minnesota and Wisconsin, as we were every summer. June reached out with pictures of ‘Justice for George Floyd’ rallies from different cities in Wisconsin and shared that she was following my coverage. Along with June’s posts on my social media pages, were the posts of boys who had grown into men from my hometown, who were more sympathetic with the officers or the business owners impacted by the worldwide outrage than to George Floyd, who had the life squeezed out of him under the knee of Derek Chauvin. After engaging with me over my coverage of Floyd’s death and calls for police reform, June asked if she could share a piece of her writing with me. It was then that I realized that June was the Jane Doe that had been alluded to in my Wisconsin newspapers years earlier. June agreed to do an interview with me. We spoke, not for the normal thirty minutes that I usually allot for interviews but for three hours and thirty-three minutes. It turned out that June had an arsenal of traumatic experiences with a police officer in Whitehall, Wisconsin known as a nice guy. She recalled being thought of as trailer trash and being referred to first, as the daughter of the town whore and later as the town whore. This kept her silent and afraid for many years. While June ultimately was tracked down by federal investigators and became a key witness in the case against the officer, this interview was June’s first time sharing her story in full. A thirty minute version of this story that also incorporated the voice and analysis of a gender sociologist aired on KPFA’s International Women’s Day special on March 9, 2021. The interview took place in the summer of 2020, in the midst of the pandemic lockdown.

Before you listen to this piece, I will mention that I’m not going to offer a comment after this piece. In lieu of that comment, I will offer this content warning: what follows is the chilling, terrifying, infuriating, and wrenching account of brutal sexual assault, the assault and menace of a minor, and the pathological abuse of power by someone sworn to protect and serve the very person targeted for abuse. What also follows is the sound of someone who has done tremendous work to move beyond being a victim to being a survivor courageously telling her story. By any measure, this is the story of human triumph in the face of staggering, grotesque horrors.

Thanks as always to the outgoing Missouri Review contest editor, Bailey Boyd, and to Patricia Miller, for her generous support for the Miller Audio Prize.

As ever, TMR is open for submissions year-round, and we remain dedicated to discovering and publishing the best contemporary writing in fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Be heard. Give us the opportunity to discover you: submit your work today! In addition, we have tons of marvelous (and free!) creative content to read, listen to, and even watch on our website. Learn more at missourireview.com.

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