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“Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.
Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”

US Department of Justice: Office on Violence Against Women: Domestic Violence

I was reading the really sad story of Nancy Richards-Akers, a romance writer who was murdered by her husband a few years ago, and I couldn’t help but wonder if domestic violence is just as prevalent within the homes of romance writers, as it is everywhere else.

I didn’t realise that her murder had been the third time within a three year period, that a romance writer had been killed by her husband.

Continued after the cut…

Apparently, Pamela Macaluso, and Ann Wassall, romance writers from California, had also been killed by their husbands in 1997, and 1996, respectively.

According to an article in Wikipedia, 20% of all violent crime experienced by women in the US, are cases of intimate partner violence.

I’m pretty sure a lot of readers probably don’t think about authors who write about falling in love, being victims of domestic violence themselves. Thinking about it boggles the mind, but here are some stats that I picked up, from various websites.

In England 16 per cent. of all crimes are cases of intimate partner violence

Bureau of Justice Statistics: Intimate Partner Violence and Victim Age group 1993-1999

Does anybody know what the average age of romance writers are?

Some more scary US based stats for you:

85-95% of all domestic violence victims are female.

Over 500,00 women are stalked by an intimate partner each year.

5.3 million women are abused each year.

1,232 women are killed each year by an intimate partner.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women.

From American Institute on Domestic Violence

Also, according to the Home Office for England and Wales, 1 in 4 women will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetime.

Those are scary statistics aren’t they? With stats like those, it seems inevitable that some of the authors that we revere will probably have been victims at one point or other in their lives. Some may still be victims, but perhaps aren’t telling.

I was reading this article by Jean Marie Ward, about Richards-Akers, when this paragraph caught my eye:

Reading this made me wonder how many romance authors out there are actually victims of domestic violence, but yet publically maintain that they have fantastically understanding husbands, who support them in everything they do.

I must admit, I always wonder at the real truth, whenever I read author bios, that spend about ten paragraphs extolling the virtues of their significant others. Call it the cynic in me.

I’m willing to bet that a substantial percentage of romance writers have been victims of domestic violence, at some point in their current relationships, but possibly feel that it would shatter the illusion that some readers have of romance authors having happy, satisfying marriages.

It seems unbelievable that people who dedicate their lives to writing about love, mutual respect, and trust, may be living in nightmarish situations, that few of us can imagine, but I’m guessing that these people exist in Romanceland, and that you may have shared a drink or two with them, without ever guessing at the real truth.

Help for victims of domestic violence is available, I’ve listed some sites for anybody who needs information on how to get that help. Before using the websites, I thought it would be prudent to post the same warning message that the USDOJ has on their site:

(“Warning: Before e-mailing or using this Web site, know that an abuser in the home can discover your Internet activities. The safest way to find information on the Internet would be at a local library or a friend’s house. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), TDD 1-800-787-3224.”)

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (USA)
Institute on Domestic Violence in the African-American Community (USA) (music on home page so you may want to lower the volume)
Family Violence Prevention Fund (USA)
Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre, Australia
Shelternet, Canada
Women’s Aid, UK
American Domestic Violence Crisis Line For Americans Overseas

USA National Domestic Violence Crisis Line 1-800-799-7233.
Womens Aid Helpline UK 0808 2000 247

Information Sources:
Home Office – Crime in England and Wales 2004/2005
American Institute on Domestic Violence