No Visible Bruises

by Rachel Louise Snyder
May 2019 – Bloomsbury USA

An award-winning journalist’s intimate investigation of the true scope of 2019 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.

Rachel Louise Snyder’s work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, the New Republic, and elsewhere. Her other books include FUGITIVE DENIM: A Moving Story of People and Pants in the Borderless World of Global Trade, and the novel WHAT WE’VE LOST IS NOTHING. She has been the recipient of an Overseas Press Award for her work on This American Life. NO VISIBLE BRUISES was awarded the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. An associate professor at American University, Snyder lives in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @RLSWrites.

Praise & reviews

“In her extraordinary new book…Rachel Louise Snyder reports on what the World Health Organization has called “a global health problem of epidemic proportions… [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.” – The New York Times

“[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 New Yorker

“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.” – The New York Times Book Review

“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.” – The Washington Post

”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.” –  Kirkus (starred review)

“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.”… Penetrating and wise, and written in sometimes novelistic prose, Snyder’s sobering analysis will reward readers’ attention.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“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.” – Los Angeles Times