Maria Stoian gives voice to sexual assault survivors in a collective memoir

Take it as a compliment, Maria Stoian’s graphic memoir

Take it as a Compliment is the impressive graphic memoir of Maria Stoian which gives voice to twenty victims (men and women) of any kind of sexual trauma. The illustrator and graphic designer based in Scottland illustrates twenty different stories, all of them real (some of them anonym, other signed with the victims’ names), which try to explain this sick issue which happen more often than we think, and yet nobody (or very few people) dare to speak about.

Stoian uses different colours, style and characters to simbolise the people who lived those events. She faces every story with a technique which finds an intermediate point that avoids a too realistic style, maybe difficult to asimilate, and a too cartoonish one which could make the stories look like a joke. The result of this approach is highly artistic, outstanding and extraordinary. Not for nothing, what it began as a Master’s degree final project ended up as a great collective graphic memoir which caught the eye and was published by Singing Dragon.

An issue that can happen to anyone

A graphic memoir like this one is essential in the sense that it reminds us that sexual harassment exists, that anyone of us can become a victim and that only if we visibilise and talk about social problems, only in that case we’ll be able to find a solution. As I said before, the stories of Take it as a Compliment are very different between them (ranging from women and men from different ages), and all of them are true.

Take it as a Compliment is also necessary because the most usual way in which society responds to sexual trauma victims is blaming them or trying to find in them something that can explain what happened, which generates most of the time a silence spiral, and victims end up keeping in secret their experiences as a result of the fear of not being believed. Helplessness, shame or disgust, amongst others, are some of the feeling which can take up a person’s mind for a long time. And the consequences of these events can be as different as serious.

Now you can take a look to some of the illustrations of Take it as a Compliment which give account of too familiar situations for too many of us.