At Interval House Breakfast, Acclaimed Writer Says Awareness and Education Can Help End Domestic Violence
HARTFORD – Domestic violence is a public health and safety crisis, but one that can be eradicated, said Rachel Louise Snyder, an award-winning writer who spoke Thursday in Hartford.
Snyder was invited by Interval House, the state’s largest domestic violence intervention and prevention organization, to talk about her book: “No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us” and why more needs to be done to break the cycle of intimate partner violence.
Speaking through the lens of a fiction writer-turned-journalist, Snyder explained the parallels of literary timelines and plot escalations to what predictably happens in abusive relationships over time.
She spoke about the life and death of a young Montana woman named Michelle, who was abused by her partner for more than a decade. In September 2001 — after enduring years of mounting physical and emotional abuse — her husband killed her, their two children and then himself. The murders and suicide came after he was arrested for a domestic violence incident and Michelle filed for a restraining order. However, she recanted her accusation when he made a speedy bail and she realized that the systems in place around her gave her husband ultimate control over her.
“Domestic violence victims recant their testimony as much as 70 percent of the time, according to some estimates,” Snyder said. “People like Michelle do so to protect themselves against their abusers’ retaliation when they feel that authorities cannot or will not help.”
Snyder told the crowd of 160 at the Hartford Club that breaking and ending the cycle of domestic violence needs to start at local level, through more awareness, education, and even small changes to legislation.
“There are so many things we know about intimate partner violence. Predictable patterns of behavior. Predictable patterns of escalation. Predictable paths to murder,” said Mary-Jane Foster, President and CEO of Interval House, during her remarks. “What we don’t know is how people who love each other, trust each other, have faith and hope in each other fall into those patterns, ending in one abused, battered and sometimes dead. Through careful research and analysis, ‘No Visible Bruises’ illuminates all of that for us.”
Foster also thanked event sponsors Bank of America — a pioneer in domestic violence advocacy for its employees — as well as Judith and Brewster Perkins, longtime supporters of Interval House.
“No Visible Bruises” was named one of The New York Times’ Top 10 Books of 2019, and has been lauded by Esquire and The Washington Post, among others. The book has also received the Lukas Work-In-Progress Award from the Columbia School of Journalism and Harvard’s Nieman Foundation.
Snyder has traveled to more than fifty countries. In 1998, she spent two months traveling through Tibet, Nepal and India, and interviewed the Dalai Lama. In 2000, she spent a month driving across Cuba on the eve of the new millennium. As a reporter, she has covered natural disasters like Hurricane Mitch in Honduras in 1998 and the Asian tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia in 2005.
Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Salon, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the New Republic. She is also author of, “Fugitive Denim: A Moving Story of People and Pants in the Borderless World of Global Trade,” which won Ms. Snyder the 2006 Lowell Thomas Award from the Overseas Press Club.
About Interval House
Founded in 1977, Interval House is the largest agency in the state of Connecticut dedicated to preventing and breaking the cycle of domestic violence. Through direct and life-saving services for victims in 24 towns and cities both East and West of the Connecticut River, Interval House has made a positive difference in the lives of nearly 250,000 women and children who have experienced psychological and physical abuse at the hand of a domestic or intimate partner. 24-Hour Hotline: (888) 774-2900.