Anderson Cooper has an exclusive interview that lays bare the experience and thinking behind severe domestic abuse.
Until 1999, Laura Cowan was kept as a literal prisoner by her husband, who told her that polygamy and the brutal treatment she endured were all a normal part of Islam and there was nothing she could do. Despite being cut off from as much outside contact as her husband could manage, Ms. Cowan still managed to smuggle out a letter that testified to the inhuman treatment she and her children were subject to, and was rescued by police.
Now, Anderson Cooper has done an exclusive interview with Ms. Cowan, which provides chilling insight into the realities, and the psychology, of severe domestic abuse. It includes Cowan’s reunion with the police sergeant who investigated her case and helped get her out. Most powerfully, it also includes scans of Ms. Cowan’s actual letters, the documents she literally risked her life to create and smuggle out of her imprisonment.
I will confess to a certain voyeuristic guilt at reading those scans, as though I were peering in on someone else’s tragedy as a mere curiosity, but that impulse is little more than leftover Victorianism. This kind of crime, which is going on right now in more places than anyone knows about, needs silence to function. It needs to be ignored, swept under the rug. It thrives on people who’d rather mind their own business than ask about that really suspicious behavior they’ve seen. The more these stories are made public, the more people may realize “I think this explains what’s going on in that house down the block.”