I'm halfway through reading (by audiobook)HARM DONE,by Ruth Rendell. I knew there was domestic violence in the plot and kidnapping of children and teens,BUT I didn't know there would be a fair amount of plot devoted to the effect of D.V. on kids growing up in this environment.
The subplot in which D.V. takes place involves an affluent British family with an overly compliant mother who keeps the house totally spotless even when she's grief-stricken, is raped (offstage) when she's very ill, doesn't work outside the home, isn't allowed to see her best friend, and whose husband treats her like a child.
He also manipulates and deprecates her in front of the police and the children in what he thinks is a light-hearted, humorous way. The police see through his act and wonder if he or his two "tween" boys have killed or hidden the family's 3-year-old retarded girl. They speculate that the baby's possible death could have been accidental, having occured during some kind of assault on mother or the child but that everyone in the family may now be involved in some way in her disappearance.
This author does a great job clearly portraying how entombed, helpless and demoralized this mother is. She shows how the two boys do not show distress or try to comfort their mother when she's sobbing because her baby's disappeared. How they do not seem to react normally to their sister's possible death, their mother's despair, and their father's lack of emotion, ridiculous demands, and twisted beliefs.
The police, with a woman's help,soon begin to see this man and the whole family in a totally different light. With this "light", however should come great responsibility.
I can't wait to finish the book and see how Ms. Rendell accomplished this, as I believe she will. HARM DONE and similar books should be required reading in high schools everywhere because the sooner kids are helped to understand the hurtful insanity of these abusers, the better.
...the better chance girls will have of not staying with boyfriends who hurt,control,isolate, humiliate,and rape them. The better chance boys will have of not excusing away or ignoring abusive behavior; of refusing to participate in hurting anyone, especially in their own families.
Let's keep this message out there for the sake of everyone: Love is respect!