Domestic Abuse

Michele DrierMichele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.

She writes the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Edited for Death, Labeled for Death and in 2015, Delta for Death. She also writes the eight-book Kandesky Vampire Chronicles paranormal romance series, a winner for best series of 2014 by the reviewers of the Paranormal Romance Guild. Book eight, SNAP: All That Jazz, also won an award for best book of 2014. Book nine, SNAP: I, Vampire, will be published in 2015.

I write fiction.

This doesn’t mean that I make up everything in my books; all of them have some actual events. Earlier books are set against WWII, the California wine industry, the growing unrest and violence in Ukraine, sex trafficking and prostitution.

My WIP, Delta for Death, the third book in the Amy Hobbs Newspaper Mysteries, has a subplot of domestic abuse.

Years ago at the San Jose Mercury News, I wrote a series on rape, a subject that wasn’t much talked about then. This was in the days when a judge’s instruction to a jury contained a line that “rape was a charge easily made,” meaning that the victim’s testimony should be viewed skeptically.

A few years later I was working with a Rape Crisis Team to establish a shelter and one night I brought a woman home from the hospital because she had nowhere to go and no money. I was a single mom and lived alone, so in hindsight it wasn’t a safe move. She couldn’t get any financial help, couldn’t work with a broken arm and shoulder and went back to her abuser husband. The next thing I heard was that he’d thrown the TV set through the front window, followed by her.

I hope she lived through her experiences.

Forward again a few years and I was the Executive Director of a large sexual assault counseling agency that saw more than 350 survivors a year. The idea of sexual assault and domestic violence was now mainstream enough that we had representatives from both the city police and county sheriff’s sexual assault teams on the board of directors.

Through the tireless work of thousands of women, there’s been nothing short of a sea change in the way domestic abuse and even spousal rape is viewed, both in popular culture and the courtroom. In fact, the idea of spousal rape wasn’t even on the horizon thirty years ago.

Labeled For DeathSurviving sexual violence and domestic abuse are now portrayed as empowering themes for women in the popular media. No longer are they victims, just regular women moving toward healing.

It’s a difficult theme to write about because domestic abuse creeps up slowly in a relationship. The future abuser can present a charming face and be an attractive character until his control takes over and escalates into abuse. Many times the abuser is contrite. Most times the woman needs to believe the apology. She’s chosen to be with him and wants the relationship to succeed—and an author has to understand the nuances in play.

As genre literature continues to develop strong women protagonists, many writers such as the talented Polly Iyer use domestic abuse as the springboard for character motivation and growth.

Domestic violence is an issue and theme whose time has come, and cannot be talked about too much. Society will probably continue to be violent, but domestic abuse is now viewed in its rightful place—as a violent crime.