“Selvaratnam very bravely and compellingly uses her personal experience to shine a light on the global crisis of violence against women. An important book for the women’s rights movement, Assume Nothing demonstrates that violence against women exists across race, class, economic status and education levels, and may be perpetrated by those we think of as allies! It dispels the myth that there are certain types of victims and perpetrators. It will help a lot of people, and particularly those who hesitate to identify as a victim/survivor for fear of losing their grounding both publicly and privately.”—Yasmeen Hassan, Global Executive Director, Equality Now
“This courageous and terrifying book charts the author’s descent into an abusive relationship and also her emergence from it in taut, seductive prose. Selvaratnam explains how—even as an educated, sophisticated, liberal feminist—she was enthralled by her lover’s fame and tolerated escalating personal violence. Her narrative is vivid and bracingly frank, a tour-de-force of self-revelation and, ultimately, of redemption.”—Andrew Solomon, National Book Award-winning author of Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon
Award-winning filmmaker Tanya Selvaratnam bravely recounts the intimate abuse she suffered from former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, using her story as a prism to examine the domestic violence crisis plaguing America.
When Tanya Selvaratnam met then New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at the Democratic National Convention in July 2016, they seemed like the perfect match. Both were Harvard alumni; both studied Chinese; both were interested in spirituality and meditation, both were well-connected rising stars in their professions—Selvaratnam in entertainment and the art world; Schneiderman in law and politics.
Behind closed doors, however, Tanya’s life was anything but ideal. Schneiderman became controlling, mean, and manipulative. He drank heavily and used sedatives. Sex turned violent, and he called Tanya—who was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Southern California—his “brown slave.” He isolated and manipulated her, even threatening to kill her if she tried to leave.
Twenty-five percent of women in America are victims of domestic abuse. Tanya never thought she would be a part of this statistic. Growing up, she witnessed her father physically and emotionally abuse her mother. Tanya knew the patterns and signs of domestic violence, and did not see herself as remotely vulnerable. Yet what seemed impossible was suddenly a terrifying reality: she was trapped in a violent relationship with one of the most powerful men in New York.
Sensitive and nuanced, written with the gripping power of a dark psychological thriller, Assume Nothing details how Tanya’s relationship devolved into abuse, how she found the strength to leave—risking her career, reputation, and life—and how she reclaimed her freedom and her voice. In sharing her story, Tanya analyzes the insidious way women from all walks of life learn to accept abuse, and redefines what it means to be a victim of intimate violence.