In works of “uncommon talent and confidence” (Masha Gessen, New Yorker), author and investigative journalist Rachel Louise Snyder explores the causes and consequences of under-reported social crises. Her work demands that we see the reality of domestic violence, global consumerism, race and class prejudice, and other often overlooked aspects of our world.
Snyder’s latest book is No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us, named one of the 10 Best Books of 2019 by The New York Times. A compelling work of investigative journalism with the narrative force of a novel, it reveals that one of America’s most urgent social problems takes place behind closed doors, and that the most dangerous place for a woman, statistically, is her own home. Whether we call it domestic violence, private violence, or intimate terrorism, it has a far more pervasive impact on our society than many realize. Between 2000 and 2006, about 3,200 Americans were killed in combat. In that time, more than three times as many women were killed by their partners.
“No Visible Bruises is a seminal and breathtaking account of why home is the most dangerous place to be a woman. Through brilliant insights and myth-busting research, compelling storytelling, and a passionate focus on truth-telling, Rachel Louise Snyder places domestic violence exactly where it should be, smack in the center of everything. A tour de force.”
—Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues
No Visible Bruises begins with the murder of Michelle Monson Mosure and her two children by her husband, a longtime domestic abuser. Weaving together external accounts of the Mosure story, Snyder lays bare the ambivalence of society’s response to domestic violence–what the World Health Organization has called “a global health problem of epidemic proportions.” Snyder frames her account 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 providing shelter is an adequate response; and perhaps most damaging, and that violence in the home is unrelated to other types of violence. In fact, more than half of the mass shootings in America include acts of domestic violence, according to a 2017 study released by Everytown for Gun Safety.
No Visible Bruises invites a sobering meditation on the far reaching social consequences of intimate violence, as well as the policies, laws, and cultural narratives that help abusers escape responsibility. Drawing on the stories of survivors, perpetrators, law enforcement officers, and victim advocates, Snyder illuminates the intersections between domestic violence and poverty, homelessness, and addiction, underscoring the fact that none of these patterns emerges in a vacuum. She cites Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Evicted, where he shows that domestic violence can lead directly to eviction, further motivating victims not to report their abusers.
With tireless reporting and deft storytelling, Snyder transforms the way we view domestic violence and gives us concrete steps that can save lives. Praising Snyder as a “a writer using every tool at her disposal to make this story come alive, to make it matter,” the New York Times book review lists the many potential solutions proposed in the book: “Treat restraining orders like D.U.I.s and keep them on file, even after they have expired. Train clergy members and doctors to recognize and respond to domestic violence. Promote battering intervention programs. Teach police to recognize the signs, and instruct doctors to assess women for traumatic brain injury.”
No Visible Bruises was awarded the prestigious 2018 Lukas Work-in-Progress Award from the Columbia School of Journalism and Harvard’s Nieman Foundation and was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It is shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the New York Public Library’s Bernstein Journalism Award.
“Rachel Louise Snyder writes with the rigorous scrutiny of an investigative journalist and the deep and roving empathy of a natural-born novelist; the result is a bold and mesmerizing exploration of daily truths we don’t talk about nearly enough”
—Andre Dubus III, author of Gone So Long and House of Sand and Fog
Snyder’s previous nonfiction book, Fugitive Denim: A Moving Story of People and Pants in the Borderless World of Global Trade, tracks the human and environmental costs of fast fashion. Snyder documents the costs and interconnectedness of our globalized economy, exploring how it shapes the lives of cotton pickers in Azerbaijan to designers in New York. Fast Company called Fugitive Denim “a thoughtful, ultimately hopeful look at how our choices about something as mundane as jeans can alter the lives of people 10,000 miles away.” The book won a Lowell Thomas Award from the Overseas Press Club and was excerpted on This American Life. She is also the author of a novel, What We’ve Lost is Nothing. In this “muscular and fearless debut…that boldly tackles the heady themes of prejudice, self-preservation, poverty and privilege” (Booklist), Snyder establishes herself as “an outstanding new voice in fiction” (Library Journal).
As a journalist, Snyder has traveled to more than 50 countries, covering stories of human rights, natural disaster, and war. She hosted the nationally syndicated global affairs series Latitudes on public radio, and her stories have aired on Marketplace and All Things Considered. Her print work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Salon, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and The New Republic. Snyder lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for six years before relocating to Washington, DC, where she is an assistant professor in the creative writing program at American University.