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.

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12 thoughts on “Domestic Abuse

  1. I like the idea in your Amy Hobbs mystery series of titles all ending in death with the newspaper theme. Edited to Death, Labeled to Death – these titles draw you to read the inside and back of the book cover at minimum. The stories sound good.

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  2. This is an area of personal interest to me as we have had to deal with it in our family. Luckily, we came through it with emotional trauma but not lasting physical damage. My thanks to all who have brought this all too prevalent problem into the light, and I agree, Polly Iyer is an extremely talented author.

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  3. Thanks for the kudos, Michele and Kathy. This is a subject matter that has received more attention lately. There was even a commercial about it during the Superbowl. In most cases, it’s a stripping down of a woman’s self-worth, leaving her vulnerable to a man’s abuse. And it’s not only women who are abused. Sometimes it’s the man who is the victim, though much less often. We need to inculcate in our children that they are worthy people, and maybe we wouldn’t have so many victims. Great post, Michele.

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    • Thanks Polly, Kaye, Kathleen and Linda. Domestic and sexual abuse are difficult issues to write about.
      And Linda, thanks for your comment on my titles!

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  4. Michele, it never ceases to amaze me when a post appears out of the blue that is just what I need! I checked (and felt compelled to order) Edited for Death on Amazon and saw that at least one reviewer called it a cozy. And you are tackling a social issue in your upcoming book in the series. With so much recent discussion about what cozies are and are not, I’ve been questioning my labeling of my own stories as cozies. My current WIP, the second in my first series, unexpectedly ended up tackling issues that are less than cozy! And yet it fits the “traditional” definition for a cozy. I guess what I’m trying to say is that your post makes me think I should keep both the issues and the label. Thanks!

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    • I know, Sylvia! I don’t consider that I write cozies, but some people call them that. My protag is a newspaper editor and she doesn’t solve crimes, but looks for the story behind the crime. Newspaper reporters and editors are the people closest to police procedures, next to the cops themselves.
      I always say I write traditional mysteries…not much blood, violence or sex on the page.
      Hope you like Labeled!

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  5. Most all of my River City novels deal with social issues. It’s out there, and people don’t want to face it, they prefer to think that it doesn’t happen. If you sit in a room with 20 women, chances are 2 of them have been sexually molested as children, one has experience physical or mental abuse from a spouse or parent, they’ve discovered that prejudice still exists, someone has a handicapped member of the family, probably most have them have used antidepressants at some point in their lives, etc. I refuse to whitewash the issues and pretend they don’t exist.

    I think if more people wrote stories dealing with some of the issues, we’d bring more awareness to the situation and it would put an end to people feeling ostracized because they’ve been through it. People need to get involved, even if it means answering their door or calling the police. Most of it could be reduced to almost nothing!

    And I agree that teaching our children is a very good place to start.

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  6. Being married to a fireman, that also responds to domestic abuse calls, rape can become a mental prison for the woman that doesn’t get help. A tough subject to address. And I love your Snap Series.

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    • I agree, all first responders see horrendous things. And thanks for the SNAP comment Cora, there’s a whole different set of issues there!

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