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One Hour in Paris

A True Story of Rape and Recovery

In this powerful memoir, philosopher Karyn L. Freedman travels back to a Paris night in 1990 when she was twenty-two and, in one violent hour, her life was changed forever by a brutal rape. One Hour in Paris takes the reader on a harrowing yet inspirational journey through suffering and recovery both personal and global. We follow Freedman from an apartment in Paris to a French courtroom, then from a trauma center in Toronto to a rape clinic in Africa. At a time when as many as one in three women in the world have been victims of sexual assault and when many women are still ashamed to come forward, Freedman’s book is a moving and essential look at how survivors cope and persevere.

At once deeply intimate and terrifyingly universal, One Hour in Paris weaves together Freedman’s personal experience with the latest philosophical, neuroscientific, and psychological insights on what it means to live in a body that has been traumatized. Using her background as a philosopher, she looks at the history of psychological trauma and draws on recent theories of posttraumatic stress disorder and neuroplasticity to show how recovery from horrific experiences is possible. Through frank discussions of sex and intimacy, she explores the consequences of sexual violence for love and relationships, and she illustrates the steep personal cost of sexual violence and the obstacles faced by individual survivors in its aftermath. Freedman’s book is an urgent call to face this fundamental social problem head-on, arguing that we cannot continue to ignore the fact that sexual violence against women is rooted in gender inequalities that exist worldwide—and must be addressed.

One Hour in Paris is essential reading for survivors of sexual violence as well as an invaluable resource for therapists, mental health professionals, and family members and friends of victims.


“Karyn L. Freedman’s terrifying and shattering story, One Hour in Paris, reveals the devastating truth about rape—that it is not confined to one terrible moment, but it determines and shapes a lifetime. If you want to understand why we need to do everything in our power to end rape, read this book.”

Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues

“In telling her story, Freedman challenges the notion that rape is solely about power, asserting that, to the survivor of the crime, rape is all about sex and can lead to lifelong sexual inhibitions. . . .­Freedman contends that rape is rooted in gender discrimination and the oppression of women worldwide, that structural inequalities will persist until addressed. The frank discussion in this book is valuable for those interested in social justice as well as to survivors, their loved ones, and mental health professionals.”

Library Journal


Inside Higher Ed

“One Hour in Paris is a brave book, and an important one. Putting one rapist in jail, Freedman says, no more solves the huge societal problem of sexual violence than feeding one hungry person solves poverty. But coming out of the closet about rape, whether you’re a victim, a near-victim or a loved one, can be the first step toward real change.”

Toronto Star

“In her brave and compelling memoir . . . [Freedman] uses her keen intellect and in-depth knowledge of trauma to unravel the complexity of rape, and to make sense of the imprint it has made on her life, and on the lives of so many others.”

National Post (Canada)

“A story of the audacity of courage in the face of trauma, a brave and moving book that deserves to be read by audiences at large.”

Quill & Quire

“Freedman’s forthright, deep analysis of her path to recovery after her harrowing rape at age 22. Vital reading for addressing the aftermath of sexual violence and challenging rape culture.”

Globe and Mail

Table of Contents

1. Paris, August 1, 1990
2. What Happened Next
3. Live in It
4. Africa, 2008
5. Paris, Revisited
Further Reading


British Columbia Achievement Foundation: British Columbia's National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction

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