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22 October 2021 | Adult Non-Fiction, Reading

Researching domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is not an easy topic to write about or research. I’ve almost finished reading Jess Hill’s See what you made me do, the 2020 Stella prize winning non-fiction book about domestic abuse. I’ve also almost finished watching the Netflix series Maid, about a young American woman who ends up homeless with her two-year-old daughter, running out of options to find a home. I’ve been talking with a friend who works for a centre supporting women and children who have experienced domestic abuse.

There’s a small thread of domestic abuse in my young adult verse novel – I’m rewriting it now. The thread is only small, no more than 2,000 words over a few sections but it is so, so, so important that I write it based on research. Even though my thread involves minor characters and their story is entirely fictionalised, I don’t want to misrepresent the women and children who face domestic abuse.

Even though the Netflix series is fiction and Hill’s book is non-fiction, even though the Netflix series is American and Hill’s book is Australian, there are startling similarities. Did you know that it usually takes a woman seven attempts to leave her abusive partner?

I usually read a non-fiction chapter in the morning, and I’ve been watching Maid at night – it’s a grim way to bookend my days. But it’s important not to turn away from these realities, to bear witness to what so many women and children experience.

If I were to take away one thing from my research, it’s that – as Hill explains in her introduction – domestic violence is not an inclusive enough term. The emotional and financial aspects of coercion need to be included as well so domestic abuse rather than domestic violence is a more accurate term.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call 1800RESPECT or 1800 737 732.

You don’t have to finish reading a book

1 Comment

Pamela

We watched Maid and it was so well done. This is a subject that isn’t spoken about even now.

October 22, 2021 at 7:21 am

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