Book Review: No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us

By Rachel Louise Snyder – Reviewed by Eve Ross*

Bloomsbury, 2019. 320p. $25.20, hardcover. Also available as e-book or e-audiobook. Find it at a local library through worldcat.org. If purchased through bookshop.org, sales support independent bookstores.

Rachel Louise Snyder had traveled internationally as journalist, noting domestic violence as incidental to several stories she had written in Afghanistan, Niger, Honduras, and elsewhere, never quite connecting it as part of the same global epidemic as domestic violence in the United States.

She had believed a number of prevalent falsehoods about domestic violence. Among them: if it’s serious, there will be visible injuries; if it’s bad enough, victims will leave; restraining orders and shelters are adequate responses; and domestic violence is a private matter that only affects the people in a few unlucky households. Her research—interviews of victims and abusers, as well as statistical research—both counters those myths and reveals that domestic violence is profoundly connected to other societal problems, including homelessness and mass shootings.

Section One interrogates why domestic violence victims stay in abusive relationships. Section Two asks whether abusers can learn to be nonviolent. Section Three examines advocates and initiatives working to interrupt domestic violence. Along with the book’s sociological and journalistic underpinnings, legal topics both broad and specific are mentioned—criminal domestic violence courts, sentencing guidelines, the Violence Against Women Act, the O.J. Simpson trial, Crawford v. Washington, and more.

*Eve Ross, 2020. Reference Librarian, Law Library, University of South Carolina School of Law, Columbia, South Carolina.