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No Visible Bruises
Cover of No Visible Bruises
No Visible Bruises
What We Don't Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us
WINNER OF THE HILLMAN PRIZE FOR BOOK JOURNALISM, THE HELEN BERNSTEIN BOOK AWARD, AND THE LUKAS WORK-IN-PROGRESS AWARD * A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BOOKS OF THE YEAR * NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST * LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE FINALIST * ABA SILVER GAVEL AWARD FINALIST * KIRKUS PRIZE FINALIST

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2019 BY:
Esquire, Amazon, Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, BookPage, BookRiot, Economist, New York Times Staff Critics

"A seminal and breathtaking account of why home is the most dangerous place to be a woman . . . A tour de force." -Eve Ensler

"Terrifying, courageous reportage from our internal war zone." -Andrew Solomon


"Extraordinary." -New York Times ,"Editors' Choice"


"Gut-wrenching, required reading." -Esquire


"Compulsively readable . . . It will save lives." -Washington Post


"Essential, devastating reading." -Cheryl Strayed, New York Times Book Review

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; and most insidiously that violence inside the home is a private matter, sealed from the public sphere and disconnected from other forms of violence. Through the stories of victims, perpetrators, law enforcement, and reform movements from across the country, Snyder explores the real roots of private violence, its far-reaching consequences for society, and what it will take to truly address it.
WINNER OF THE HILLMAN PRIZE FOR BOOK JOURNALISM, THE HELEN BERNSTEIN BOOK AWARD, AND THE LUKAS WORK-IN-PROGRESS AWARD * A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BOOKS OF THE YEAR * NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST * LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE FINALIST * ABA SILVER GAVEL AWARD FINALIST * KIRKUS PRIZE FINALIST

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2019 BY:
Esquire, Amazon, Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, BookPage, BookRiot, Economist, New York Times Staff Critics

"A seminal and breathtaking account of why home is the most dangerous place to be a woman . . . A tour de force." -Eve Ensler

"Terrifying, courageous reportage from our internal war zone." -Andrew Solomon


"Extraordinary." -New York Times ,"Editors' Choice"


"Gut-wrenching, required reading." -Esquire


"Compulsively readable . . . It will save lives." -Washington Post


"Essential, devastating reading." -Cheryl Strayed, New York Times Book Review

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; and most insidiously that violence inside the home is a private matter, sealed from the public sphere and disconnected from other forms of violence. Through the stories of victims, perpetrators, law enforcement, and reform movements from across the country, Snyder explores the real roots of private violence, its far-reaching consequences for society, and what it will take to truly address it.
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  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 15, 2019
    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. Agent: Susan Ramer, Don Congdon and Associates.

  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2018

    If domestic violence really was that bad, wouldn't victims just walk out? Anyway, we've got an adequate shelter system, and such violence is unrelated to issues such as mass shootings and sexual assault. These are just some of the myths shredded by journalist Snyder, an associate professor at American University, who points out that domestic violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime nationwide and is considered a global epidemic by the World Health Organization. Winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from March 15, 2019
    A powerful exploration of the sinister, insidious nature of domestic violence in America.As an international reporter for more than two decades, Snyder (Literature/American Univ.; What We've Lost Is Nothing, 2014, etc.) encountered regular acts of violence against women adjacent to the issues she covered. The grim statistics about and the prevalence of unreported incidents both startled and motivated her to begin chronicling the universality of an issue that "is too often hidden." Through a graphically portrayed series of in-depth profiles, the author discusses how domestic violence has reached epidemic levels while efforts to curb the trend have been historically underfunded and ineffective. She elucidates this point in stories spotlighting both victims and assailants alongside the investigators and family members who've become all-consumed with sleuthing the crimes that have torn their relationships apart. She also tackles the complex conundrum facing victims of familial violence who choose to remain in abusive households. Intriguingly, Snyder probes the chilling territory of the perpetrators, sketching them from the inside out. Especially memorable is the author's incisive coverage of the communities responsible for creating change through victim advocacy, rehabilitative jail programs, batterer intervention groups, and transitional housing. In one scene, Snyder describes a state prison's group therapy session in which former abusers discuss "their own incidents of violence, times they...denied any wrongdoing, moments they manipulated or verbally threatened partners [and] instances of trivializing their own violent events. They begin to see, some of them for the first time ever, the effect their violence may have had on their victims." As these stories and perspectives evolve and deepen, the author contributes her own profound introspection on the nature of empathy and relatability, weaving in themes of enduring emotional trauma, the resilience of "deep stereotypes," and the many manifestations of physical and emotional violence.Bracing and gut-wrenching, with slivers of hope throughout, this is exemplary, moving reportage on an important subject that often remains in the dark due to shame and/or fear.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    March 15, 2019
    Although domestic violence is a difficult subject, this sympathetic look at victims, perpetrators, and intervention efforts by law enforcement and social agencies makes for compelling reading. Journalist Snyder takes readers beyond headlines and mind-numbing statistics, sharing specific cases brought to life through her thorough research, perceptive observations, and in-depth interviews. Snyder profiles victims, surviving families and friends, perpetrators caught up in cycles of abuse, detectives, prosecutors, and others who see the evidence of domestic abuse all too often. This is not a series of individual commentaries but rather honest, ongoing conversations, with multiple instances of horror, fear, guilt, bravado, remorse, forgiveness, and frustration. Along the way, readers learn about experimental programs and policies designed to diminish the stigma associated with being abused, disrupt inbred violent behaviors spawned by generations of abuse, and provide protection and justice for victims, along with their varying levels of effectiveness. Snyder's chilling body of evidence shows that domestic abuse is a pervasive epidemic that can and does happen everywhere?and that there are no easy solutions in sight.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

  • Parul Sehgal, New York Times, "Editors' Choice" Extraordinary . . . [No Visible Bruises] takes apart the myths that surround domestic violence. . . In its scope and seriousness—its palpable desire to spur change—this book invites reflection not only about violence but about writing itself . . . [Snyder] brings all of fiction's techniques to this new book—canny pacing, an eye for the animating detail and bursts of quick, confident characterization. There is a fullness and density to every one of her subjects . . . She glides from history to the present day, from scene to analysis, with a relaxed virtuosity that filled me with admiration. This is a writer using every tool at her disposal to make this story come alive, to make it matter.
  • Masha Gessen, New Yorker's "Page-Turner" blog [Snyder] has written a book about everything: about men who beat and kill their wives or girlfriends; about people who work to predict murder, and those who try to heal the abusers; and also, deeply, about gender, poverty, depression, despair, privilege, law enforcement, incarceration, justice, mental health, and politics . . . It takes a writer of uncommon talent and confidence to pull this off. Snyder's stories are about people, every single one of whom is drawn empathically. Her investigation is intellectual and unsparingly complex.
  • The Washington Post Compulsively readable . . . In a writing style that's as gripping as good fiction, as intimate as memoir and deeply informed, [Snyder] takes us into the lives of the abused, the abusers and the survivors. . . The stories are devastating, but Snyder keeps us reading by pointing us toward possible solutions . . . After a few chapters, I was telling a prosecutor friend that everyone in her office—no, everyone in the state who deals with family violence—had to read this book. Because it will save lives.
  • New York Times Book Review Powerful . . . Snyder exposes this hidden crisis by combining her own careful analysis with deeply upsetting and thoughtfully told accounts of the victims . . . [An] important book.
  • Esquire,"Best of the Year" Gut-wrenching, required reading.
  • Los Angeles Times Snyder [goes] both wide and deep . . . her empathy for the victims is powerful, and infectious. But so is her interest in the perpetrators, some of whom may be able to recover, to change and atone. And as she makes very clear, those who undertake reform — studying and quantifying risk, asking smart questions about whether women's shelters help or hurt, counseling survivors and getting them the support they need — are heroes.
  • Ms. Magazine A brilliant work . . . what makes it move with the suspense of a beach novel is Snyder's passionate storytelling, [which] often soars to the point of lyricism but remains unfailingly honest.
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune Should be required reading for lawmakers across the country.
  • Los Angeles Review of Books Snyder's in-depth reporting and vivid writing imbue the book with drama and tension . . . A welcome addition to the efforts that bring this brutal crime out from behind closed doors and provide hope for the future.
  • Kirkus Reviews, starred review A powerful exploration of the sinister, insidious nature of domestic violence in America... Bracing and gut-wrenching, with slivers of hope throughout, this is exemplary, moving reportage on an important subject that often remains in the dark due to shame and/or fear.
  • Publishers Weekly, "Best of the Year," starred review [A] powerful investigation into intimate partner abuse . . . with closely observed, compassionate portraits of victims, advocates, abusers and police. Penetrating and wise, and written in sometimes novelistic prose, Snyder's sobering analysis will reward readers' attention.
  • The Huffington Post A searing examination of domestic violence in the U.S.
  • BookPage, starred review Snyder's willingness to tell the intimate stories of domestic violence sheds light on an often neglected subject. All of us have a stake in becoming more aware of and responsive to private violence, and this book proves why.
  • Booklist This sympathetic look at victims, perpetrators, and intervention efforts by law en
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What We Don't Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us
Rachel Louise Snyder
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