AN ESQUIRE AND NEW YORK TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR
An award-winning journalist’s exploration of the domestic violence epidemic, and how to combat it.
An average of 137 women are killed by familial violence across the globe every day. In the UK alone, two women die each week at the hands of their partners, and in the US domestic violence homicides have risen by 32% since 2017. The WHO deems it a ‘global epidemic’. Yet public understanding of this urgent problem remains catastrophically low.
Journalist Rachel Louise Snyder was no exception. Despite years of experience reporting on international conflicts, when it came to violence in the domestic sphere, she believed all the common assumptions: that it was a fate for the unlucky few, a matter of bad choices and cruel environments. That if things were dire enough, victims would leave. That violence inside the home was private. And, perhaps most of all, that unless you stand at the receiving end of a punch, it has nothing to do with you.
All this changed when Snyder began talking to the victims and perpetrators whose stories she tells in this book. Fearlessly reporting from the frontlines of the epidemic, in No Visible Bruises she interviews men who have murdered their families, women who have nearly been murdered, and people who have grown up besieged by familial aggression, painting a vivid and nuanced picture of its reality. She talks to experts in violence prevention and law enforcement, revealing how domestic abuse has its roots in our education, economic, health, and justice systems, and how by tackling these origins we can render it preventable.
In this powerful investigation into intimate partner abuse, journalist and professor Snyder (Fugitive Denim) makes the case that "domestic violence, rather than being a private problem, is a most urgent matter of public health." She humanizes the price tag victims in the U.S. collectively miss more than eight million days of work per year, and health-care costs borne by taxpayers exceed $8 billion annually with closely observed, compassionate portraits of victims, advocates, abusers, and police. She also examines the interplay of culture, circumstance, and shame that keeps women with abusive partners, displaying a thorough understanding of systemic problems, including the lethal combination of common contributing factors, among them poverty, addiction, narcissism, and easy access to guns (in the U.S., 50 women a month are shot and killed by their partners). Balancing the gut-wrenching stories are hopeful explorations of resources that could prevent domestic homicides, including the Danger Assessment instrument used by medical professionals to assess an abuse partner's risk; programs that try to rehabilitate offenders; and comprehensive approaches to victim protection, such as that of DASH in Washington, D.C., which offers shelter to victims without disrupting their access to their homes, jobs, or communities. Penetrating and wise, and written in sometimes novelistic prose, Synder's sobering analysis will reward readers' attention.