See What You Made Me Do

Jess Hill

See What You Made Me Do
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See What You Made Me Do

Jess Hill

Winner of the Stella Prize 2020

Domestic abuse is a national emergency: one in four Australian women has experienced violence from a man she was intimate with. But too often we ask the wrong question: why didn’t she leave? We should be asking: why did he do it?

Investigative journalist Jess Hill puts perpetrators - and the systems that enable them - in the spotlight. See What You Made Me Do is a deep dive into the abuse so many women and children experience - abuse that is often reinforced by the justice system they trust to protect them. Critically, it shows that we can drastically reduce domestic violence - not in generations to come, but today.

Combining forensic research with riveting storytelling, See What You Made Me Do radically rethinks how to confront the national crisis of fear and abuse in our homes.

Review

Sometimes you begin reading a book and everything else you need to do or think about instantly recedes. See What You Made Me Do by Jess Hill is one such book. Hill is a Walkley Award-winning investigative journalist who has been researching and writing about domestic violence since 2014. See What You Made Me Do is her first book, and to call it courageous is a gross understatement.

This book is a devastating exposé of the horrors of the many forms of domestic abuse that occur in our society every single day. Hill demonstrates, with a preoccupying synthesis of data, expert interviews and sickening case studies, that many of the systems meant to protect victims are not only comprehensively failing to help them, but also making victims’ situations more dangerous and are causing lasting harm of terrifying proportions. She calls for a Royal Commission into the current functioning of the Family Court and its theoretical underpinnings; her well-considered arguments could not be more compelling. No examination of domestic abuse would be useful or complete without a thorough interrogation of the social contexts in which it occurs. Hills’ writing about those who abuse, who they abuse, and why they do it is meticulous and reframes the questions in a way that is long overdue: why do abusers (the vast majority of whom are men) stay? Why do they abuse?

See What You Made Me Do is not a book about blame or recriminations. It is a manifesto for change. As Hill points out, when our government wanted to reduce tobacco use in this country, a plan with measurable goals and outcomes was formed and very effectively implemented. Citing recent successful examples, Hill makes an urgent case for recognising that not only is change essential, it is possible right now.


Elke Power is the editor of Readings Monthly.

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