Award-winning filmmaker Tanya Selvaratnam recounts the intimate abuse she suffered from former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, using her story as a prism to examine the domestic violence crisis plaguing America.
... crisp, unadorned prose ... In the course of Selvaratnam’s careful, detailed narrative, we see how a story that looks extraordinary isn’t extraordinary. We see how millions of other less sensational, lower profile stories of abuse are contained within this one. How step by step, a strong woman is seduced by the confounding combination of male woundedness and power ... The difficulty of going public with this account can’t be underestimated — nor can the forces working against Selvaratnam: his influence, the potential for shame, the panic of letting one’s perfectly serviceable public image slip. The sheer effort involved in looking very straightforwardly at this story, allowing it to exist, is palpable on the page ... Selvaratnam is at her most powerful when she tells her own story rather than rehashing familiar feminist truisms or quoting experts. One wishes at times for more of her: her childhood, her trips to Sri Lanka, her prickly complicated mother, her irrepressible grandmother. The book cycles obsessively over its raison d’être: At least 10 times, Selvaratnam explains that she is going public with her story to save other women. The energy expended on all this justification is wasted; the reader is already on her side. But her defensiveness speaks to the arduousness of this kind of revelation, the fact that it is going against not just entrenched power structures, but some formidable internal dictate of decorum or pride ... In methodically describing how a successful artist and activist can fall into a dark relationship with a controlling man, she is performing a rare and valuable service. It is important to see how frighteningly easy it is to lose power even for extremely confident, professionally accomplished women ... Selvaratnam writes to the chasm between who we are publicly and privately, exploring how easily the facade of our politics, our most passionately held conviction dissolves in intimate life.
... raw, gut-wrenching, and honest in its exposure of how—and why—women find themelves trapped in the stories that comprised their childhoods, with particular attention to the shame that comes from believing that they should have known better ... [Selvaratnam] writes with tremendous personal vulnerability, yet never loses sight of the broader policies and data surrounding domestic violence, which lends her work strength as a memoir and as a polemic. By taking Schneiderman’s own language and using it as a framework for exploring the complexity of domestic violence, Selvaratnam has successfully undermined the damaging rhetoric designed to prevent women from recognizing themselves as experiencing abuse, especially in situations where there is an imbalance of power ... A searing, yet sensitive account of vulnerability and redemption that will find a wide audience.
Part survivor’s tale and part exposé of intimate violence, the book offers a candid, often frightening exploration of the diabolically schizophrenic ways that the patriarchy conspires to disempower women ... A courageous and compelling example of an author writing her 'way out of the darkness.'