Assume Nothing: A Memoir of Intimate Violence

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Henry Holt and Company, Apr 7, 2020 - Biography & Autobiography - 288 pages

A combination of memoir, reporting, and research, Assume Nothing is an urgent, timely examination of a frightening type of abuse of power. It tells Tanya Selvaratnam’s incredible story, while offering tools and solutions for a problem that persists, dangerously, behind the closed bedroom doors of people we know and love.

When Tanya met Eric, they fell quickly and effortlessly in love, fueling each other’s growing political ambitions. But their power dynamic soon took a dark turn, as he criticized Tanya and began to try to control her, even telling her that he would have to kill her if they broke up. Sex turned frighteningly violent. At a friend’s urging, she opened up to a domestic violence expert, who confirmed what Tanya, on some level, already knew: she was in an abusive relationship. She considered avenues for protection—an ethics complaint, a civil claim, going to the police. But a situation that would be dire for most women was even more dangerous for Tanya because her abuser was the attorney general of New York—the top law enforcement officer in the state. She feared he would be tipped off and that he would crush her.

Tanya’s story is harrowing, but not as rare as you might think. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average, nearly twenty people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. Here Tanya uses her abuse at the hands of former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to expose the prevalence of intimate partner violence—and offers steps to recognize, expose, and end it.

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About the author (2020)

Tanya Selvaratnam is the author of The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Vogue, CNN, Glamour, and McSweeney’s. She is an Emmy-nominated and Webby-winning filmmaker, who has produced for Aubin Pictures, Glamour Women of the Year, Planned Parenthood, and the Vision & Justice Project.

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