“I talk to a lot of people who don’t want to talk to me,” writes author Rachel Louise Snyder on the first page of No Visible Bruises. She begins with the case of Michelle Mosure Monson, fatally shot by her abusive husband, Rocky. He also killed their two children before committing suicide. Years later, Snyder sat down with Michelle’s father, trying to unravel what happened. She watched hours of home videos. She connected with Michelle’s family, law enforcement and community members who were traumatized by the crime. Most didn’t want to talk about Michelle. They felt complicit, wracked with regret and grief.
The suffering induced by domestic violence is bigger than we can begin to understand, Snyder explains. Because these crimes are generally perceived as private, it’s nearly impossible to trace the collective impact. Snyder sets herself to the task, arguing that we need a broader research-based view of domestic violence.
Snyder’s careful reporting about Michelle’s case lays the foundation for the many other stories she examines. Beyond the victims and their families, Snyder profiles several men who are trying to overcome their violent tendencies. She visits them in prison and sits in on counseling sessions, showing how hard it is for them to be aware of their processes of escalation—and how easy it is for them to slip back into violent tendencies that put them and those around them at risk.
Finally, Snyder examines what interventions are interrupting the cycle of violence. This section offers tangible hope that our collective efforts, especially those that unite professionals around high-risk cases, can result in real change. Although No Visible Bruises is not easy or light reading, Snyder’s willingness to tell the intimate stories of domestic violence sheds light on an often neglected subject. All of us have a stake in becoming more aware of and responsive to private violence, and this book proves why.