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No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us

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An award-winning journalist's intimate investigation of the true scope of domestic violence, revealing how the roots of America's most pressing social crises are buried in abuse that happens behind closed doors. We call it domestic violence. We call it private violence. Sometimes we call it intimate terrorism. But whatever we call it, we generally do not believe it has any An award-winning journalist's intimate investigation of the true scope of domestic violence, revealing how the roots of America's most pressing social crises are buried in abuse that happens behind closed doors. We call it domestic violence. We call it private violence. Sometimes we call it intimate terrorism. But whatever we call it, we generally do not believe it has anything at all to do with us, despite the World Health Organization deeming it a “global epidemic.” In America, domestic violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime, and yet it remains locked in silence, even as its tendrils reach unseen into so many of our most pressing national issues, from our economy to our education system, from mass shootings to mass incarceration to #MeToo. We still have not taken the true measure of this problem. In No Visible Bruises, journalist Rachel Louise Snyder gives context for what we don't know we're seeing. She frames this urgent and immersive account of the scale of domestic violence in our country around key stories that explode the common myths-that if things were bad enough, victims would just leave; that a violent person cannot become nonviolent; that shelter is an adequate response; that violence inside the home is separate from other forms of violence like mass shootings, gang violence, and sexual assault. Through the stories of victims, perpetrators, law enforcement, and reform movements from across the country, Snyder explores not only the dark corners of private violence, but also its far-reaching consequences for society, and what it will take to truly address it.


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An award-winning journalist's intimate investigation of the true scope of domestic violence, revealing how the roots of America's most pressing social crises are buried in abuse that happens behind closed doors. We call it domestic violence. We call it private violence. Sometimes we call it intimate terrorism. But whatever we call it, we generally do not believe it has any An award-winning journalist's intimate investigation of the true scope of domestic violence, revealing how the roots of America's most pressing social crises are buried in abuse that happens behind closed doors. We call it domestic violence. We call it private violence. Sometimes we call it intimate terrorism. But whatever we call it, we generally do not believe it has anything at all to do with us, despite the World Health Organization deeming it a “global epidemic.” In America, domestic violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime, and yet it remains locked in silence, even as its tendrils reach unseen into so many of our most pressing national issues, from our economy to our education system, from mass shootings to mass incarceration to #MeToo. We still have not taken the true measure of this problem. In No Visible Bruises, journalist Rachel Louise Snyder gives context for what we don't know we're seeing. She frames this urgent and immersive account of the scale of domestic violence in our country around key stories that explode the common myths-that if things were bad enough, victims would just leave; that a violent person cannot become nonviolent; that shelter is an adequate response; that violence inside the home is separate from other forms of violence like mass shootings, gang violence, and sexual assault. Through the stories of victims, perpetrators, law enforcement, and reform movements from across the country, Snyder explores not only the dark corners of private violence, but also its far-reaching consequences for society, and what it will take to truly address it.

30 review for No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    This book is a WOW book for me. I know about domestic violence and worked briefly at a shelter when I was in college, but the book still blew me away. Snyder is the rare author that can make broader points by telling individual stories. She sneaks in facts and data and process in telling a compelling story. She also grapples with broader cultural issues and shows a lot of empathy for the perpetrators of violence. I will be thinking about this book for a long time.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cara

    There are few books that manage to highlight a complex social issue, show you just how little you understand it, AND THEN provide a litany of ways we as individuals and a society can have a huge impact right now. Snyder made me understand that domestic violence impacts every life and society, and then did something that felt amazing in a world of depressing articles and troubling news reports: she demonstrated concrete ways to make change. She gave me policies to advocate for. NO VISIBLE BRUISES There are few books that manage to highlight a complex social issue, show you just how little you understand it, AND THEN provide a litany of ways we as individuals and a society can have a huge impact right now. Snyder made me understand that domestic violence impacts every life and society, and then did something that felt amazing in a world of depressing articles and troubling news reports: she demonstrated concrete ways to make change. She gave me policies to advocate for. NO VISIBLE BRUISES allowed me to see that domestic violence isn't just a personal problem, a sad news story or a moment for empathy with a friend; it's also an economic problem, it's a domestic terrorism problem, it's a national development problem. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and hope it is a catalyst for long overdue conversations around interpersonal violence and its lasting effects on us as individuals and as a community.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    It's a global epidemic. It affects everyone of every nationality, color, creed and socio economic status. It's intimate, personal, and it's terrorism. The #MeToo movement and social awareness has raised domestic violence to a higher platform but not high enough. We must break the glass ceiling for all involved including men, women, and children and most certainly families if we are to succeed. I know I'm a survivor of domestic violence by a former spouse and malignant narcissism ( personality trait It's a global epidemic. It affects everyone of every nationality, color, creed and socio economic status. It's intimate, personal, and it's terrorism. The #MeToo movement and social awareness has raised domestic violence to a higher platform but not high enough. We must break the glass ceiling for all involved including men, women, and children and most certainly families if we are to succeed. I know I'm a survivor of domestic violence by a former spouse and malignant narcissism ( personality trait disorder). In fact, upon reading this ebook I was taken back to PTSD, trauma, flashbacks, fight or flight, eggshells, stockholm syndrome, gaslighting, triangulation, love bombing, manipulation, intimidation, abuse of all forms (financial, sexual, psychological, verbal, emotional, religious, and yes physical). So many believe it's a private issue to be resolved between the parties but it's everyone's problem. Women cannot get proper housing with active PFA orders or constant police protection and or disturbances. Women cannot get aid or assistance or even shelter if they're in constant fear of threats, blackmail, pay to play schemes, and being forced into silence by the very same that's supposed to protect. You see I was one of those high case numbers. I was part of the systems broken legal avenues. I was viewed as just a 'stay at home mom' regardless of having higher education (MPA/CJ) than my spouse. I was questioned my 'high school education' level, my 'income expense statement', why I wouldn't sit next to my spouse in court. NON of which was subjected to my spouse. In fact my spouse failed to appear and pay and was subject to a warrant for his arrest for 15k in arrearages. He knew the judge, produced a 'Quicken Spreadsheet of expenses he paid' and I was forced to repay my abuser 21k therefore removing his arrears and making me pay my own abuser for a spreadsheet he magically produced that was created by him for him that was never offered sufficient time to evaluate for accuracy. Thankfully, he was subsequently arrested for violation of PFA (ICC ARREST) first time offense subject to anger management, alcohol and drug counseling, and anger management. I bring this all up because I was so taken back by Rachel's level of knowledge and her ideas especially those offered up by the state of Montana. While we have a long way to go we are moving forward and the pendulum of justice is being turned but every slowly. "The US spends as much 25 times more on researching cancer or heart disease as it does on violence prevention despite the enormous costs of violence to our community." I did my thesis on PFA orders and I interviewed local police departments. I can tell you from experience having multiple orders on two men that they are pieces of paper that provide a false sense of protection. They do not stop bullets, they do not protect from harms way. They will not give you a safety net or way out. Police I interviewed know the high case loads, they understand more training on all levels including at the courts is needed, but funded is bigger obstacle. They also mitigate and lessen issues especially if they know the individual who is viewed as 'model citizen' status in their community. Most abusers are not hidden 'monsters' they are the average every day man or woman that is hard working, respectable, community oriented person. The legal system and police officers do offer preferential treatment, they do lessen and minimize the abuse by noting 'just lie low' , they do label as misunderstandings or domestic disturbance rather than assault and battery which is long known to remove and eradicate responsibility upon the perpetrator. April 18th the state of Pennsylvania became the 2nd state to start taking into consideration the dangerousness of domestic violence abusers. I applaud my state for this but not for how I was mistreated and further abused by the courts. You see you don't ask nor should you expect to have victims sit next to their abusers. You shouldn't be subjected to education level questions if you don't intend to ask both parties. You shouldn't label women homemakers as just 'moms' as if somehow that MASTERS is inconsequential or the 20 yrs volunteering in POINTS OF LIGHT by the PRESIDENT OF THE USA GEORGE HERBERT W BUSH means nothing. See folks, the idea that justice is fair is a farce. Injustices are rampant as I now council others in this field from across 45 countries worldwide in 45 different languages on my site FB - The Lost Self Life After Narcissism. "But I had to stop loving myself and only love him" -- sounds familiar?! Sadly... However, when the author mentioned William Beadle I nearly fell down. Why? Because when I was going through the battle of my life against my narc divorce/custody/visitation he mentioned this exact example about a man who in 1782 killed his wife and 4 kids after falling bankrupt. He used this example in part about mental illness, gun violence, and abuse but more importantly as a sidenote in a private way to me in a public local newspaper editorial as a way to keep me silenced. It spoke volumes when I read what this man was capable and scared me to death ... by the way if my ex narc reads this I got that message loud and clear. But I refused to stay silent. Survivors need to tell their stories if they want change. While it's not easy it's a way to let others know they too are not alone. When the author mentioned personal stories and accounts of abuse the story involving Paul and his two girls going to live with him as teens jumped off the page at me. I'm going through that exact issue now with my teen girls. They are so seeking attention, love, empathy they are not getting from their dad that they hold on to crumbs and will do anything for his acknowledgement no matter how little. Yet I know if he had primary custody they'd be left alone, to watch tv, fend for selves, make crucial mistakes without guidance nor structure, and it'd be a free for all with drugs, sex, alcohol and the like and that scares the hell out of me. It was just a short time ago he mentioned there's more to life than books ...that scares me if you know what malignant narcs/sociopaths/psychopaths are capable of doing to their teens. So when the author mentioned one woman kept track of her former boyfriend using social media to keep herself safe I related as I do the same not to spy but to know if he's occupied with someone else than sadly that target is his source of supply and not me for that time being. He's less likely to come after us berating, chastising, condemning, hating, blaming, shaming, and the like that we receive daily 6 yrs removed from marriage. Remember the man in office-DT- well what the nation now experiences with the constant txts, emails, harassment of all forms, blackmail, threats, false accusations, smear campaigns, is what the norm day is like with anyone on the DSM manual. Trust me. It's a hell like no other hell. Remember anyone who comes on too quickly promising the world is most likely going to offer nothing more than empty promises and broken dreams. These individuals are incapable of offering love as they only love themselves. Everything is for personal gain and once you question motives or actions you'll be discarded. The trails of destruction last forever and the recovery process is long and excruciating but together we can all make a difference. Never give up! This should be required reading in every organization, nonprofit, shelter, court setting, police departments, and college/university studies in the criminal justice field. I've read many books on this topic and this was the most detailed, specific, honest, truthful and enlightening read I've read and that gives me and all involved hope for change. Thank you to the author, the publisher, Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for this honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    Given the subject matter, clearly a lot of CWs here, particularly around violence and emotional abuse This is exemplary non-fiction. I'm not totally sure if this should be characterized as narrative non-fiction, because while sections of it definitely read that way, other sections are more in line with a kind of deep reportage style that is common to a lot of non-fiction on these kinds of sociological or cultural topics. Taken all together, the book that this most reminds me of is I'LL BE GONE IN Given the subject matter, clearly a lot of CWs here, particularly around violence and emotional abuse This is exemplary non-fiction. I'm not totally sure if this should be characterized as narrative non-fiction, because while sections of it definitely read that way, other sections are more in line with a kind of deep reportage style that is common to a lot of non-fiction on these kinds of sociological or cultural topics. Taken all together, the book that this most reminds me of is I'LL BE GONE IN THE DARK in that it reads like a true crime hybrid, albeit that this time the hybrid is true crime + journalism, rather than true crime + memoir. That being said, I am absolutely gutted and in love with this book. It not only seriously interrogates the whole "why do victims stay?" aspect of intimate partner violence, it ALSO seriously interrogates how abusers become abusers and get trapped into that cycle that they use to trap their victims. With this multifaceted view, Snyder is able to explore a plethora of social issues, but particularly the subject of what we usually lump together under the label of toxic masculinity. But she is able to also explore cycles of poverty, racism, what the purpose of incarceration is, and so many other things. Basically, I loved this and if the content is something you can handle, recommend that everyone read. This is such an important topic and while it is a DIFFICULT thing to get through (don't even know how often I cried), I'm also so thankful for how it expanded my understanding of what domestic violence looks like and how it impacts everyone involved

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    This is such an important book, and also one of the most well-written non-fiction books that I have ever read - it is an absolute page turner. I feel that a copy of this should be sent to every law-maker in America, to help understand how to combat one of the leading causes of death for women, and to make everyone safer. Everyone should read this.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laura Joakimson

    Everyone who might want to save another person’s life needs to read this book. This is not an easy book to read. For some reason I expected more statistics or a more dry recounting of facts. But it’s very journalistically specific. It tells the story of a young woman who came under the complete influence of an older man. He had “coercive control” over her. She was fourteen when they met. They had two children together before she graduated from high school. Many of the principles for recognizing wha Everyone who might want to save another person’s life needs to read this book. This is not an easy book to read. For some reason I expected more statistics or a more dry recounting of facts. But it’s very journalistically specific. It tells the story of a young woman who came under the complete influence of an older man. He had “coercive control” over her. She was fourteen when they met. They had two children together before she graduated from high school. Many of the principles for recognizing what to look for in dangerous domestic abuse situations were missed by her family and friends since she kept so many of her experiences to herself. She told the police, in her single interaction with them, that he kept a snake that he threatened to use to kill her to make it look like an accident. She later recanted that story and told the police she had lied. Did she do that because she was stupid or because she was unstable? No, as the author made clear. Her decision to recant and to provide an official united front with him was an attempt to save her own life because she feared him more than she feared law enforcement. It’s hard to read this story without being impacted. That’s the purpose of reading a book like this. One of the key clues to the dangerousness of a relationship is whether or not he tries to choke her. (I’m using he/she pronouns here because that is by far the statistical norm...). Her life is in the most danger in the 24 to 48 hours after that. Yet police departments don’t often take those incidents seriously. Sometimes they downplay the physical evidence in the neck area. Victims will often lose bowel control. This is the body’s response to a mortal threat. Another dangerous sign is a man’s access to guns. In this case the husband bought a gun shortly before using it on his family. Telling the seller chillingly that it was “for his wife.” Not an easy book to read. But a book that could save lives. Sometimes the window is so small for someone reaching out for help. They might only speak to a few people. Maybe only one person. The more that social workers, teachers, therapists, bosses, friends, day care workers...basically the more people that know what the signs are, the more opportunities there are to save other women like this one. That makes it worth reading and sharing. Five stars. Notes from my reading: -His violence. He owns it with a possessive pronoun now. -In today’s society we don’t need violence. We need to intimate. Men are taught violence. But they are not taught intimacy. -We ask why didn’t she leave, not Why couldn’t he stop his violence? -Men learn to be men by defining themselves as superior to one another and to women. And much of the violence in our communities is due to men’s ongoing enforcement of that learned behavior in their superiority. -Men had learned that it was ok to use violence to enforce their social obligation to be superior.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Not an easy read, but a compelling one. Snyder has turned out a first-rate piece of research and writing that will shock and appall you. I hope this book winds every major prize possible, and that it gets tons of attention. It has a critically important message for the entire human race: domestic violence is a form of terrorism, and we need to change attitudes and laws to address it properly.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ang

    This book is absolutely heartbreaking, but it's also 100% necessary. It's terrifying. TERRIFYING. But it's required reading. You should read it. I'm not kidding. I know that I'm going to be thinking about this book for a really long time, and it has radically informed what I thought I knew about intimate partner terrorism (domestic violence). I'm just in awe of this book. (Also, the read-time in no way indicates how compelling the book is; I constantly wanted to be reading it, but I also needed b This book is absolutely heartbreaking, but it's also 100% necessary. It's terrifying. TERRIFYING. But it's required reading. You should read it. I'm not kidding. I know that I'm going to be thinking about this book for a really long time, and it has radically informed what I thought I knew about intimate partner terrorism (domestic violence). I'm just in awe of this book. (Also, the read-time in no way indicates how compelling the book is; I constantly wanted to be reading it, but I also needed breaks from it, because the subject matter is so difficult.)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hayley Stenger

    One of the best books I have read this year. Snyder does an excellent job of exploring domestic violence from several angles and then making it relevant to the national conversation. I particularly loved how Snyder brought herself into the discussion and her expertise in the area. Usually it bothers me when authors do this, but in this case it made the book feel more intimate.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nicolaus Stengl

    According to a study, which reexamined gender differences in U.S. homicides (published in Violence and Gender, Vol. 6, No. 1), Emma E. Fridel and James Alan Fox found that homicides by intimate partners has been increasing in the last few years. As the New York Times reported, “the number of victims rose to 2,237 in 2017, a 19 percent increase from 1,875 killed in 2014…The majority of the victims in 2017 were women, a total of 1,527.” The decline in homicides by intimate partners began in late According to a study, which reexamined gender differences in U.S. homicides (published in Violence and Gender, Vol. 6, No. 1), Emma E. Fridel and James Alan Fox found that homicides by intimate partners has been increasing in the last few years. As the New York Times reported, “the number of victims rose to 2,237 in 2017, a 19 percent increase from 1,875 killed in 2014…The majority of the victims in 2017 were women, a total of 1,527.” The decline in homicides by intimate partners began in late in the 1970s was due a number of factors, which Rachel Louise Synder nicely lays out in her introduction: the second-wave feminism movement (not to mention the third-wave), Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA), the OJ Simpson trial, etc all brought attention to domestic violence, providing means to protect help women and children against the insidious abuse that had gone on for far too long in America. Yet even with this and other reforms, today domestic violence is still overlooked, victims forgotten, and abuse is still a major crisis in American—not to mention much of the world. Before 2017, one could say “three women a day were killed by their partner in America,” yet now we can say that it is four women a day! Why is this the case? Well, Synder attempts to elucidate the statistic among many other things, reporting on cases that turn the number into vivid portraits of women, children, families, abusers, victims, and grappling with difficult questions on the topic of domestic violence. The book is broken up into three sections, each attempting to answer difficult questions such as: why do victims of domestic violence stay? Who is the abuser, and can an abuser be changed? What reforms, groups, advocacy exist and what do they do? Synder looks at these questions through cases, interviewing victims, abusers, police, reformers, and others, in order for her to provide an answer, or more often potential answers, to questions that often don’t have firm answers. A difficult book indeed. Tragic. depressing. Yet Synder leaves us with portraits and accounts of humans and acts that make us both angry and optimistic, that ask us to respond, to act and talk, to this widespread crises occurring all around us, to us, everyday.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karen Ng

    The #metoo movement has raised awareness of sexual abuse at work, in schools, churches and organized sports, but what if the terrorism happens in your own house- in your home that supposedly is your "safe haven" from the hectic outside world. You are abused emotionally, verbally and physically behind the locked door. When the person that promised to love and take care of you does exactly the opposite? What if the person who claims he loves you more than anything controls your every move, isolate The #metoo movement has raised awareness of sexual abuse at work, in schools, churches and organized sports, but what if the terrorism happens in your own house- in your home that supposedly is your "safe haven" from the hectic outside world. You are abused emotionally, verbally and physically behind the locked door. When the person that promised to love and take care of you does exactly the opposite? What if the person who claims he loves you more than anything controls your every move, isolates you from friends and family, forbids you to work, and worst of all, uses your children or the safety of them as a threat to get you to obey. What if the misconception of a monstrous abuser is wrong. What if a husband capable to kill looks just like you and me... charming, smart and normal? If you are looking at violence against women, look no further, it is right under our own roof. "Between 2000 and 2006, 3,200 American soldiers were killed; during that same period, domestic homicide in the US claimed 10,600 lives." "20 people in the US is assaulted every minute by their partners." Domestic violence is the wrong term. It implies that spousal abuse is a private and domestic matter and does not even qualify to be heard in a criminal court until it's too late( someone is killed.)The term intimate terrorism is more appropriate. These women, the victims are usually women(due to physical inferiority, toxic male culture, religious beliefs) have no one to turn to, nowhere to escape, yet, at the same time, being described as hysterical, crazy or mentally unstable by their husband and first responders(usually male policemen.) Lacy Peterson, Nicole Simpson, Michelle Mosure, Shannon Watts, Dorothy Giunta-Cotter. Why and how our system failed these women? This book does not have all the answers, but it will improve the reader's understanding of intimate terrorism. How did we get here? Why does it still happen with education, new laws, activism, programs and shelters in place? The progress we've made so far, although never enough. The book also answered the million dollar question: "Why doesn't she just leave?" Spousal abuses are not isolated incidents. It's an epidemic that threatens everyone and happens in all geographical areas. It's a public health issue and should be viewed and prevented as such. "A study put out by the United Nations cited 50,000 women were killed by partners or family members in 2017 alone." The author did an amazing job helping me understand this whole complex situation, although I'm no stranger to domestic abuse and pychopathy due to my profession and interest in neuroscience. This book is a must read for all law enforcement personnel, first responders. Judges, lawyers, Physician/nurses, ER staff, social workers, and parents of both girls and boys.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steve Ellerhoff

    Every one of us needs to read this book. If you have not been hurt by intimate partner terrorism yourself, please make time for this book. For those of us who have, it is hard to read—but in the way that needed medicine can taste terrible. This book is one of those books that stands in a unique position to raise our consciousness for the better. In this case, it stands to normalize advocacy and protection for abused women and their children, who are murdered in numbers that dwarf our country’s s Every one of us needs to read this book. If you have not been hurt by intimate partner terrorism yourself, please make time for this book. For those of us who have, it is hard to read—but in the way that needed medicine can taste terrible. This book is one of those books that stands in a unique position to raise our consciousness for the better. In this case, it stands to normalize advocacy and protection for abused women and their children, who are murdered in numbers that dwarf our country’s soldier losses in war: “Fifty American women are shot and killed every month by intimate partners” (p.272). Rachel Louise Snyder has done profound work here, catching us up to date on how the abuse of women in their relationships is not a private issue at all—it’s a crime, corroding our communities. This makes it all of our business. She re-frames the outworn attitudes so often projected onto women in dire situations, making the case for us to stop asking why a woman stays with a man who has terrorized her. Snyder and allies would rather we ask what we can do to protect a woman and her children. As far as that goes, hopeful and promising projects to do just that are explored in this book—especially the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center in Massachusetts, the Homicide Reduction Unit task force in Cleveland, and DASH, Cornerstone, and DC Safe in Washington, D.C. Snyder also addresses anticipated questions. Why, for instance, will a woman often side (or appear to side) with the man terrorizing her? Why will she accept him isolating her from her family and loved ones, or deleting all of her social media accounts? Typically it’s because he has given her every reason to fear him—and she knows he could very well murder her. He has made himself appear more powerful to her than advocacy and legal systems. Important work by Jacquelyn Campbell and Ellen Pence is also covered. We learn the most dangerous time for a woman and her children is when she leaves or attempts to leave him. The first three months are exceedingly dangerous. The next nine months are a fraction less dangerous. Then after a year, the danger drops by a lot. However, this cycle of spiking danger and gradual de-escalation can be re-triggered by events like a graduation, a new job, a move, a pregnancy—big life events. Snyder lays out how experts have found that making a timeline of events in an abusive relationship is integral to breaking free—and the thing often overlooked is escalation along that timeline. The book explores many situations where women and their children were murdered by an intimate partner. Of course, countless women are terrorized without being murdered. One takeaway is that no person should be made to fear her husband or boyfriend or partner. That goes for her children, too. And until we accept this morally, as a culture, by normalizing its criminality, we are all failing. We have a duty to look out for each other. Snyder tells us the most promising efforts are happening in cities where advocates and police and medical professionals and social workers and clergy are openly meeting with each other and talking about specific people they stand to help. The responsibility extends, of course, to each of us contributing to a just and humane society. We can also, of course, work on listening—to experts and people who have been hurt by intimate partner terrorism (sometimes they are one and the same…), and even the men who terrorize. One woman, named Victoria in the book, says, “You’ve heard the saying ‘hurt people hurt people’… Well, I also think healed people heal people” (p.119). This book can help a lot of us as we heal—and lead to greater societal efforts to help others heal, too.

  13. 5 out of 5

    julia ☆ [owls reads]

    This is probably the most important book I'll ever read in my life.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Megan Henry

    This book is a book that puts many of my other five star ratings to shame. Extremely well-written, impeccably researched, emotionally powerful and captivating. It is easy to fall into one of two extremes when discussing domestic violence in depth: showing the depth of horror and violence experienced by victims and therefore vilifying and dehumanizing men who perpetrate violence, or humanizing perpetrators and their own trauma histories at the risk of minimizing abuse or failing to hold perpetrat This book is a book that puts many of my other five star ratings to shame. Extremely well-written, impeccably researched, emotionally powerful and captivating. It is easy to fall into one of two extremes when discussing domestic violence in depth: showing the depth of horror and violence experienced by victims and therefore vilifying and dehumanizing men who perpetrate violence, or humanizing perpetrators and their own trauma histories at the risk of minimizing abuse or failing to hold perpetrators accountable. This book managed to accomplish both goals without falling into their respective traps. Somehow the author is able to tell the most horrific stories of violence, highlighting the lethal danger of attempts to leave and the pervasive terror victims experience, at the same time that she humanizes perpetrators, demonstrating individual capacity for change through restorative processes, and dissects the misogynistic culture that has socialized and created the conditions for this type of violence. This is a book that everyone should read, and one that I know I will be rereading.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    I have met both abusers and victims and had some disturbing details divulged to me, but that did not prepare me for this book. In fact, I feel badly I didn't know how gruesome that domestic violence really is. It's always kind of the thing we blame on the victim, partly out of misogyny, but I would also say we don't worry about it like, say, a mass shooting, because it's not something (we men especially) think is going to happen to us. It's something we chalk up to making poor decisions and choo I have met both abusers and victims and had some disturbing details divulged to me, but that did not prepare me for this book. In fact, I feel badly I didn't know how gruesome that domestic violence really is. It's always kind of the thing we blame on the victim, partly out of misogyny, but I would also say we don't worry about it like, say, a mass shooting, because it's not something (we men especially) think is going to happen to us. It's something we chalk up to making poor decisions and choosing bad relationships. We will even say certain women are attracted to abusers. Snyder goes on to write about how the gender expectations placed on men to not show emotion, to be tough, and the expectation to solve problems through violence creates a culture of gendered violent crime. Snyder demonstrates how many of the mass shootings begin in domestic violence and pulls apart the tendency of these gender role-indoctrinated men to claim ownership over women and dehumanize them. Tied together, it's such a refutation of the reactionary blowback to save "toxic masculinity", that it would be difficult to argue against. The meat of the book, though, is in the narrative. Snyder is at her best when she is a frontline reporter, interviewing families of victims, attending groups, and on ride-alongs. Part I of the book is a particularly harrowing case study. It is told as Snyder interviews the families of the dead involved in a gruesome triple-murder suicide, as the fathers discuss it for the first time since it happened. There are home videos as well, which we get to hear described. It paints a fascinating portrait of a family who are not alive to tell their own story. Part I familiarizes the reader with the reality of domestic abuse. The physical violence might pale in comparison to the psychological. The abuser creates situations in which there is no escape. The victim has no choice but to either convince themselves it is actually bearable or to figure a way out, which can possibly be deadly. They can't simply leave when they have kids. They leave their kids with him and they will be in the hands of an abuser. Plus, what mother would willingly leave their children? But, if she takes the children, she is a kidnapper. Calling the police would likely mean he would get out of jail quickly and be even more enraged. It's an unwinnable situation. Snyder challenges us to ask why we collectively ask: "Why do they stay?" when the more relevant question is, "Why were they violent?" Part II explores abuser rehabilitation. This is a tough transition, but it's a necessary one. It's tough because of the brutalizing nature of the first part. I imagine many by this point are ready to lock men up and throw away the key, and it's hard to blame them. I actually found a couple of the stories quite redemptive, and thought the author's conclusion was quite odd. That said, I'm glad she told the story. Part III deals primarily with the victim-facing solutions. The big takeaway is that there are primarily two: shelters and police. Shelters are often not great solutions because women are forced to go to the first one in the state with an open spot, and even leave their job if it's out of range. From her perspective, police are often issues because they do not take detailed reports, don't take domestic violence seriously (nor do courts, she adds), often they are abusers themselves (2-4x as likely to be abusers as the general population). She does highlight a cop from Cleveland who works with victims of domestic abuse who seems to function somewhere between a social worker and a cop. As jaded as I am about the justice system, she was a good officer. Throughout, she continues with crushing stories of abuse. A noticeable thing is that so many of the people who get involved with the work were in some way afflicted by abuse. Just as many of the abusers were abused. In the last chapter, Snyder brings up an 14% increase in domestic abuse over the last 5 or so years. Though this could be arbitrary data fluctuation, but with misogyny being part of the culture war, it seems as if this ripple effect could make it epidemic. Now for some nitpicks: since domestic abuse does seem to be a function of culture, I would also like to have seen data comparing the US to other countries. How can we change the culture to pre-empt the violence to where more of it doesn't happen? The author seems to conclude that the most effective prevention would be early, at the misdemeanor level. More effectively assessing threats and removing bail... More incarceration? We are so greatly incarcerated a country already, I'm hesitant to hope for this, yet this is also a hideous crime that puts the family in such harm; therefore, it is difficult to fault anyone for wanting these people sequestered. Again, I felt the ending of Part II was a disappointment. Her assessment of Jimmy was far too harsh. From the point of view of the reader, he might be flawed still, but there is no reason to believe he is not a success story (he was getting off drugs too!). The dark take she brings to it is cynical and really undermines the idea of rehabilitation, which while I imagine it's theoretically possible someone who is abusive cannot be rehabilitated, I imagine it's far more likely that many can. The only empirical evidence I recall her providing actually is strongly in favor of the rehabilitation groups. There might not be enough data out there at all to get a proper sample, given how much our justice system is focused on purely punitive measures. "Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism" by Kristen Ghodsee explains why, in socialist countries, women have historically been able to easier get out of and avoid altogether abusive relationships (it has to do with having more economic stability). In a similar vein, it seems that greater parity in wealth and income (both among the sexes and among people in general) would do a little to remedy this problem. Overall, excellent book. Gripping narrative and information that you owe it to the vulnerable around you to know.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kelley

    I am at a loss for words to describe how informative and eye-opening this book was. Hands down one of the best books I've read this year. I was afraid when I picked this book up, it was going to be too sad for me. In fact, since I almost always listen to non-fiction books and not read them in print, I wasn't sure I would even be able to finish this book because my library only had it in print. However, after I finishied the preface, I was completely hooked. I didn't know how much domestic violen I am at a loss for words to describe how informative and eye-opening this book was. Hands down one of the best books I've read this year. I was afraid when I picked this book up, it was going to be too sad for me. In fact, since I almost always listen to non-fiction books and not read them in print, I wasn't sure I would even be able to finish this book because my library only had it in print. However, after I finishied the preface, I was completely hooked. I didn't know how much domestic violence connects with so many other problems in society, including mass shootings! I had always seen domestic violence as a private thing between a couple in their home, but Snyder really opened my eyes to the similarities between domestic violence incidents. I was shocked to know they are now able to predict (and prevent) which domestic violence incidents will lead to homicide. Snyder explains how domestic violence is like terrorism, why victims stay/can't leave, why abusers perpetuate violence, and what types of things our society and court systems can do to stop it. I HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone. Specifically people who have or will encounter domestic violence victims-police officers, lawyers, nurses, doctors, social workers, etc. The book was so informative. If you aren't sure you will want to read this whole book, I would say try the preface. You can read most of it for free as an Amazon sample.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Meg Clayton

    Rachel Louise Snyder tells specific stories which, taken together and mixed with a good bit of journalist fact, will turn your idea of what domestic violence is -- something that happens to others, remote from us -- into what it is, a problem of serious consequence not just to the individuals involved, but to the fabric of our society. This compelling volume ought to be on everyone's reading list.

  18. 4 out of 5

    B

    It's hard to recommend a book that is filled with such tragic stories, but I will anyways because we all need to understand how much of this is going on and the difficulty these women have in maneuvering through getting away, having to change their entire lives, often with little financial support while still living in fear, not just for themselves but their children as well. The author mixes historical and statistical information with true stories but most memorable, stories about the people on It's hard to recommend a book that is filled with such tragic stories, but I will anyways because we all need to understand how much of this is going on and the difficulty these women have in maneuvering through getting away, having to change their entire lives, often with little financial support while still living in fear, not just for themselves but their children as well. The author mixes historical and statistical information with true stories but most memorable, stories about the people on the front line doing whatever they can to help victims of domestic violence.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Meticulously researched and written from the heart. I wish every police officer, DA, and judge in the country would read this. It made me so angry, and illuminated a subject I thought I knew. I didn't, but I do now.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stefani

    Such amazing reporting done in this book. Well written and definitely a topic everyone should educate themselves on. I’ve worked with domestic violence victims and I learned so much from this book. So happy to see the changes that are being made, but we definitely have a long way to go.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dana Mackey

    This is unlike anything I’ve ever read about domestic violence (or, as Snyder calls it, “intimate partner terrorism”). She goes into recovery groups for male abusers and writes about the conversations these men are having. It’s fascinating, also sad, obviously.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    A must-read for literally every human.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Susan Smith

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I seem to be reading quite a few books that have highlighted social issues that change the way I think. This is one of the best. Snyder documents the depth, breadth and scope of domestic violence. It is a form of violence that is systemic in our culture and has far-reaching effects not only on the victim but also on future generations. It is a problem so difficult to tackle because the victim is too scared to escape this dangerous situation, and our system has limited ways of responding . This b I seem to be reading quite a few books that have highlighted social issues that change the way I think. This is one of the best. Snyder documents the depth, breadth and scope of domestic violence. It is a form of violence that is systemic in our culture and has far-reaching effects not only on the victim but also on future generations. It is a problem so difficult to tackle because the victim is too scared to escape this dangerous situation, and our system has limited ways of responding . This book exposes the dark side of so many relationships so that the reader sees the full extent of the problem. The author also offers some solutions. But these require time and money. I highly recommend this book. It will definitely open your eyes.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Everyone should read this.

  25. 4 out of 5

    D'Anne

    This is the most important book I've read in a long time. Domestic violence is a national health and safety crisis, but you wouldn't know it from how we talk -- or, rather, don't talk -- about it. And you certainly wouldn't know it from how the president talks about violence against women (remember when Trump said it's a scary time for men in response to the #MeToo movement?). We do a terrible job protecting victims of domestic violence in the United States where our attitude is, "Why doesn't sh This is the most important book I've read in a long time. Domestic violence is a national health and safety crisis, but you wouldn't know it from how we talk -- or, rather, don't talk -- about it. And you certainly wouldn't know it from how the president talks about violence against women (remember when Trump said it's a scary time for men in response to the #MeToo movement?). We do a terrible job protecting victims of domestic violence in the United States where our attitude is, "Why doesn't she* just leave?" as opposed to, "We will do everything we can to help women and children escape from men who may very well end up killing them." Change starts with understanding this crucial subject and this book is a good place to start. *Yes, I know, men can be victims of domestic violence, too. But overwhelmingly the victims are women.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    I believe this is a very important book. The author interviewed policemen, shelter workers and the abused themselves. She talked to many women who had been abused or had fled abusers. There are several findings that stand out in my mind. The first one is that domestic violence is very much related to mass shootings and terrorism and thinking about domestic violence in this framework, rather than a family issue is important in saving lives. She asked the question, "would we allow a stranger to tr I believe this is a very important book. The author interviewed policemen, shelter workers and the abused themselves. She talked to many women who had been abused or had fled abusers. There are several findings that stand out in my mind. The first one is that domestic violence is very much related to mass shootings and terrorism and thinking about domestic violence in this framework, rather than a family issue is important in saving lives. She asked the question, "would we allow a stranger to treat a woman and her family the way we allow husbands and boyfriends to do?" Another important issue is determining the lethality of the attacks. For instance, if there has been strangling, more than likely there will be murder or attempted murder. Even thirty years ago we knew that the violence never downgraded but always escalated. She discusses, and several times in this book, "why do they stay?". She noted that no one ever asks why does the abuser stay. He stays because he is emotionally dependent on his girlfriend or wife and needs her to feel ok about himself. The more insecure the man feels, with job loss, embarrassment or other similar issues, the more likely he is to be an abuser. If he was taught at home or out on the street that men have to be in control or they are worthless, he is likely to stoop to abuse to maintain his image. Another thing that the author noted and this has been known for a while, as well, is that the most lethal time for an abused woman is when she leaves or attempts to leave the situation. This is a slap in the face to the man's power over her and he will do all he can, including killing her or her family and friends to avoid this happening. She makes the point that shelters have often saved women's lives but is that the best we can do for a woman who is abused? Why should she have to leave her support system, her work, her neighbors, even her job when the offending party, her abuser is not asked to do any of this. There are as well, references sprinkled throughout this book about how much more dangerous an abusive situation is when there are guns in the home. The incidence of murders and familicides where a whole family is wiped out is very high when there are guns, even hunting guns in the home. This speaks to some of the states who are enacting laws to take the guns away from know abusers even if the abuse was a misdemeanor. There is a short discourse near the end of the book about the United States culture and the current political atmosphere which degrades women and supports male supremacy. This will undoubtedly increase the incidence of domestic terrorism in our country. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic and especially social workers, police officers and therapists. It is worthy of being used as a textbook even.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I gave this book 5 stars because of how well it was written and also how much I learned. Domestic violence is so horrific that it can be called intimate terrorism. The women and families are definitely terrorized by the father/husband. I, along with others, have previously wondered why she doesn't just leave but as was made clear in this book, that's when everything often gets worse and she is killed and sometimes her children too. Most women stay for this reason, plus, the husband has isolated I gave this book 5 stars because of how well it was written and also how much I learned. Domestic violence is so horrific that it can be called intimate terrorism. The women and families are definitely terrorized by the father/husband. I, along with others, have previously wondered why she doesn't just leave but as was made clear in this book, that's when everything often gets worse and she is killed and sometimes her children too. Most women stay for this reason, plus, the husband has isolated her to the extent that she has no one to help her and no job skills either since he has forbade her to work. And with the violence slowly escalating, many women have become unable to recognize how much worse it has gotten. Another thing I learned was that many of the men were also victimized as children by their own fathers and consequently are full of rage that they take out on their wives and children. In fact, many domestic terrorists fall into this category. The men themselves want help---62% of men who are in prison for killing their wives and/or children say that violence can be unlearned and some eagerly enter programs designed for this. For centuries, what happens in the home has been minimized as off limits for police and the justice system--even still, some claim "she must have deserved it" since women's lives and well-beings are not valued in this country as well as around the world. Fortunately, our government is waking up to the horror so many women face in their own homes and various programs are available especially in urban areas although rural areas still suffer.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Danica Slavish

    This book is such a timely, moving read. The author exhibits profound empathy and uses survivors’ stories as a way to deftly reveal larger societal injustices. Some of the biggest revelations for me: 1. The language we use to describe societal ills shapes our collective consciousness (“domestic violence” vs. “intimate partner terrorism”) 2. Checklists help us see systematic patterns in abusive behaviors we may otherwise dismiss as trivial 3. We don’t need to relate to someone to help them. “Can’t This book is such a timely, moving read. The author exhibits profound empathy and uses survivors’ stories as a way to deftly reveal larger societal injustices. Some of the biggest revelations for me: 1. The language we use to describe societal ills shapes our collective consciousness (“domestic violence” vs. “intimate partner terrorism”) 2. Checklists help us see systematic patterns in abusive behaviors we may otherwise dismiss as trivial 3. We don’t need to relate to someone to help them. “Can’t we just believe that all people should be safe and not just those who resemble our own mothers and daughters? Is relatability necessary for empathy?” 4. Men can benefit from dismantling patriarchy just as much as women 5. “Why are our guns more important to us than our citizens?” Gun ownership makes life incredibly dangerous for American women. I hope the author continues her important work on this topic. There is still so much to be done.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    I went into this book not really knowing what to expect but also thinking it was like many other books I’ve read about the topic of intimate partner terrorism. As a survivor I made the choice to finally use my voice for something better so I wanted to get as educated as possible and help where I could. No visible bruises was a read that I both liked and it also annoyed me. I figured out I was probably more in it for the stories that were far more grittier than mine. While so much of the informat I went into this book not really knowing what to expect but also thinking it was like many other books I’ve read about the topic of intimate partner terrorism. As a survivor I made the choice to finally use my voice for something better so I wanted to get as educated as possible and help where I could. No visible bruises was a read that I both liked and it also annoyed me. I figured out I was probably more in it for the stories that were far more grittier than mine. While so much of the information that was given were things I would’ve never thought to include, I was also overwhelming bored with mundane descriptions of offices, landscapes or things I didn’t feel were important. These people who were fighting to make changes were who I was interested in and their wall art. I also found myself getting annoyed with the interviews with the abusers because I thought we were supposed to sympathize but then I came to understand it was to point out their very distorted view of events.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This is an amazingly written, researched and insightful look at domestic violence in our country today. To say I have learned a great deal from this book would be an understatement, despite the fact that I thought I knew a great deal about it. It is so important to understand the factors involved with domestic violence because it causes so many other problems, including mass shootings. This is a tremendous resource for us all.

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