A Personal Story of Intimate Violence by Tanya Selvaratnam; Moderated by Eileen Hoenigman Meyer
February 25 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
- ASSUME NOTHING | Tanya Selvaratnam | BUY BOOK
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Join Tanya Selvaratnam at a virtual discussion about her new memoir, ASSUME NOTHING. The event will be moderated by Eileen Hoenigman Meyer.
ASSUME NOTHING, is a sensitive and nuanced memoir written with the gripping power of a dark psychological thriller, ASSUME NOTHING details how Tanya Selvaratnam’s relationship with former NY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman 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.
When Tanya Selvaratnam met Eric Schneiderman, she felt she had met her match. It was a fairy tale romance until the day she realized she might not survive it. A heart-wrenching and vivid account of intimate abuse at the hands of one of the most powerful men in New York State, Tanya Selvaratnam holds truth to power and uses her story as a prism to examine the domestic violence crisis around the world. ASSUME NOTHING scrutinizes the insidious way women learn to accept abuse, regardless of socio-economic status, age, race, or religion.
According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Tanya never thought she would become part of that statistic. As a witness to her father’s abuse of her mother, Tanya knew the patterns and signs of domestic violence. An ivy-league graduate, producer, author, cancer-survivor, and connected professional in the art world, she did not see herself as remotely vulnerable.
And then while at the 2016 Democratic Convention, she was introduced to Schneiderman. He was charming, he shared her progressive politics and was an avowed supporter of women—or so it seemed. They both had a Harvard degree, had studied Chinese, and were interested in spirituality and the arts. The abuse came on subtly at first and was fueled by his increasing consumption of alcohol and sedatives. Rooted in their most intimate sexual moments, the abuse slowly and inexorably crossed one line after another, verbally and physically. He became controlling, isolating her, and then descending further into threats of violence, including death, and calling her his “brown slave.”
No less harrowing is the story of her escape and the many decisions she made along the way to be safe from the top man in law enforcement in the State. From the women advocates and lawyers who helped her to the editor and journalists at The New Yorker who investigated her story, her journey was frightening and harrowing, as well as carefully planned out and timed. It was a complex and far from guaranteed gamble not only to leave him, but also to stop his damage to her and others.
ASSUME NOTHING is visceral—and will shake you to your core. But she wrote this to do more: she wanted to expose how one becomes a victim and how she chose to liberate herself and tell the dark truth. This deeply personal story is riveting and told with a journalist’s attention to detail and original research.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tanya Selvaratnam is a writer, artist, and an Emmy-nominated and multiple Webby-winning producer with more than twenty-five years of experience in the arts & social justice.
Born in Sri Lanka and raised in Long Beach, CA, Selvaratnam is based in New York City and Portland, Oregon. With the artist Laurie Anderson and the producer Laura Michalchyshyn, she is a cofounder of The Federation: a coalition of artists, organizations, and allies committed to keeping cultural borders open and showing how art unites us. She has also been an advisor and producer for For Freedoms, which catalyzes public discourse and civic engagement through the arts; specifically, she worked on the organization’s 50 State Initiative as well as the For Freedoms Congress. Most recently, she produced for The Vision & Justice Project, founded by Professor Sarah Lewis (Harvard University); Glamour Women of the Year; The Meteor; Joy To The Polls, The Shed multi-arts center; and UNSTOPPABLE/Planned Parenthood. Since 2007, she has been a producer with Aubin Pictures, founded by Catherine Gund; Aubin’s latest film is AGGIE about collector and philanthropist Agnes Gund who created the Art for Justice Fund to fight mass incarceration. For nine years, Selvaratnam was the Communications and Special Projects Officer for the Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation, based in Miami, FL. In 2020, she was a volunteer for the Biden-Harris Policy Committee and also served as Content Chair of Arts for Biden-Harris.
Eileen Hoenigman Meyer is a freelance writer covering professional life, job seeking, and raising kids. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Lily, The Independent, Fast Company, Yahoo News, MSN, CNBC, NBC News, The Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Chicago Parent Magazine, and others. She regularly contributes to Glassdoor’s blog and HigherEdJob’s blog. She, her husband, and their two teenagers live in Oak Park, Illinois.
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