No Visible Bruises: What we don’t know about domestic violence can kill us by Rachel Louise Snyder

‘Love is what makes domestic violence different from any other crime.’

Some books are hard to read, and this is one of them.  I take no comfort from the fact that it is set in the USA: geography might provide a false sense of distance, but domestic violence is all around us.  And incidences have increased during the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

So, what does this book tell us that we might not already know?

‘They stay because they choose to live.’

I grew up hearing people say that ‘if it was that bad, x would leave’.  The people saying that had little (if any) idea of x’s reality.  How could x leave?  No income.  No savings.  No place to go.  Eventually, after three (of four) battle-scarred and weary children grew up and left home, x achieved a degree of independence.  And x was relatively lucky.  At least momentarily. 

For me, this book reinforces the importance of that.  Of knowing that what seem like a logical and sensible choice to some isn’t a choice for many.  Unfortunately, victims of domestic violence often (but not always) become perpetrators.  Role models are important: how else do we learn to function as adults?

‘If it takes the average victim seven or eight times to leave an abuser, why do we expect offenders to get it right the first time?’

Ms Snyder frames this book around particular individual stories, some of which have tragic endings. But amidst the pain and the awful stories, I saw occasional glimmers of hope.  Hope that information might be shared between jurisdictions, hope that behaviours could be anticipated, and interventions might work.

I found this a difficult book to read, but ignoring the problem is not the answer.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

3 thoughts on “No Visible Bruises: What we don’t know about domestic violence can kill us by Rachel Louise Snyder

  1. This is so true about the repeated attempts to leave…
    Not so long ago I came across a young woman in tears, with torn clothing and bruises, and (long story short) I ended up taking her to the police station where they said, understandably I think, that this was one of many occasions when she’d said she wanted to leave her violent partner, and (no mean feat, given the shortages) they’d found her a refuge, and then she’d gone back to him. She’d done it so often, they were, though trying to be professional and compassionate, clearly a bit fed up with her. She was feisty, though, and she insisted that they deal with it, and again, long story short, I ended up taking her to a refuge because otherwise she would have had to wait a while for transport.
    And not long afterwards I saw her back where we started from.
    I would still do the same thing again, but I admit that I have trouble understanding this behaviour, and I can see how police would find it difficult too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting, Lisa. On one (logical, rational) level, I don’t understand people returning to their abusers. On another much more complicated level, I understand the power that abusers can have and also (sometimes) the belief that those abused have that things might improve ‘if only’. It’s a minefield.


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