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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Assume Nothing

Assume Nothing

A Memoir of Intimate Violence

Tanya Selvaratnam

Henry Holt and Co.

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A true story, Tanya Selvaratnam uses her abuse at the hands of former NY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to expose the prevalence of intimate partner violence—offering steps to recognize, expose, and end it.

When Tanya Selvaratnam met Eric Schneiderman, they fell quickly and effortlessly in love—fueling each other’s growing political ambition. But their power dynamic soon took a dark turn, as Schneiderman criticized Selvaratnam and began to try to control her, even telling her that he would have to kill her if they broke up. Sex turned frighteningly violent.

At a friend's urging, she opened up to a domestic violence expert, who confirmed what Selvaratnam, on some level, already knew: she was in an abusive relationship. Eric’s behavior mapped a pattern: entrap, isolate, demean, control, abuse. Selvaratnam considered avenues for protection—an ethics complaint, a civil claim, going to the police. But her abuser was the top law enforcement officer in the state. She feared he would be tipped off, and that he would crush her.

Selvaratnam’s story is harrowing, but not as rare as you might think. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. A combination of memoir, reporting, and research, Assume Nothing is an urgent, timely examination of a frightening subgroup of abuse of power. It tells Selvaratnam’s incredible story, while offering tools and solutio… More…

A true story, Tanya Selvaratnam uses her abuse at the hands of former NY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to expose the prevalence of intimate partner violence—offering steps to recognize, expose, and end it.

When Tanya Selvaratnam met Eric Schneiderman, they fell quickly and effortlessly in love—fueling each other’s growing political ambition. But their power dynamic soon took a dark turn, as Schneiderman criticized Selvaratnam and began to try to control her, even telling her that he would have to kill her if they broke up. Sex turned frighteningly violent.

At a friend's urging, she opened up to a domestic violence expert, who confirmed what Selvaratnam, on some level, already knew: she was in an abusive relationship. Eric’s behavior mapped a pattern: entrap, isolate, demean, control, abuse. Selvaratnam considered avenues for protection—an ethics complaint, a civil claim, going to the police. But her abuser was the top law enforcement officer in the state. She feared he would be tipped off, and that he would crush her.

Selvaratnam’s story is harrowing, but not as rare as you might think. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. A combination of memoir, reporting, and research, Assume Nothing is an urgent, timely examination of a frightening subgroup of abuse of power. It tells Selvaratnam’s incredible story, while offering tools and solutions for a problem that persists, dangerously, behind the closed bedroom doors of people we know and love.

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Praise for Assume Nothing

Assume Nothing is a gut-wrenching, personal tale told by one of the bravest women of the #MeToo era. Tanya Selvaratnam spares no one, including herself, as she shines much-needed light on the often-misunderstood subject of intimate violence. By confronting her abuser, she finds her voice and power even greater than his.”
Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money and Staff Writer for The New Yorker

“Tanya Selvaratnam’s Assume Nothing is a vivid, compelling and heartrending story about her personal encounter with domestic violence. It reads like a horror story. 'No, no!' we cry. 'Not him. Don’t let it be true.' But it is. Selvaratnam takes us through her own gradual awakening without sugarcoating anything. This a brave and winning work that will be of enormous help to many people.”
Mark Epstein, MD, author of The Trauma of Everyday Life and Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself

"No one wants to believe they are the kind of person who would fall for an abuser. But the reality is that there is no one kind of person who can end up in a relationship where someone inflicts partner violence and/or psychological abuse. The range of women target includes those with their own significant power, like author Tanya Selvaratnam. Selvaratnam's book reinforces knowledge our society so often conceals, that partner violence is part of the fabric of our society at all levels. Selvaratnam does a delicate job of dealing with emotions and personal historie… More…

Assume Nothing is a gut-wrenching, personal tale told by one of the bravest women of the #MeToo era. Tanya Selvaratnam spares no one, including herself, as she shines much-needed light on the often-misunderstood subject of intimate violence. By confronting her abuser, she finds her voice and power even greater than his.”
Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money and Staff Writer for The New Yorker

“Tanya Selvaratnam’s Assume Nothing is a vivid, compelling and heartrending story about her personal encounter with domestic violence. It reads like a horror story. 'No, no!' we cry. 'Not him. Don’t let it be true.' But it is. Selvaratnam takes us through her own gradual awakening without sugarcoating anything. This a brave and winning work that will be of enormous help to many people.”
Mark Epstein, MD, author of The Trauma of Everyday Life and Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself

"No one wants to believe they are the kind of person who would fall for an abuser. But the reality is that there is no one kind of person who can end up in a relationship where someone inflicts partner violence and/or psychological abuse. The range of women target includes those with their own significant power, like author Tanya Selvaratnam. Selvaratnam's book reinforces knowledge our society so often conceals, that partner violence is part of the fabric of our society at all levels. Selvaratnam does a delicate job of dealing with emotions and personal histories, including her own and those of the man who abused her, while making clear this is never acceptable, never excusable, and no one should be beyond justice."
Farai Chideya, author of The Episodic Career and The Color of Our Future

"Part memoir, part research guide, Assume Nothing shares details of Selvaratnam’s own incredible story. It also offers solutions for handling the dangerous behavior that plays out among more couples than we think."
—Book Riot

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Tanya Selvaratnam

Tanya Selvaratnam is the author of The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Vogue, CNN, McSweeney’s, and Artsy among others. She is also an Emmy-nominated and Webby-winning producer, who has most recently collaborated with The Shed, Planned Parenthood, Catherine Gund’s Aubin Pictures, and GLAMOUR Women of the Year.

image of Tanya Selvaratnamo
Beatrice de Gea