past event
Domestic Violence

Alma and Joseph Gildenhorn Book Talk with Tanya Selvaratnam and Carrie Mae Weems

About Assume Nothing: A Story of Intimate Violence:
When Tanya Selvaratnam met then New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at the Democratic National Convention in July 2016, they seemed like the perfect match. Both were Harvard alumni; both studied Chinese; both were interested in spirituality and meditation, both were well-connected rising stars in their professions—Selvaratnam in entertainment and the art world; Schneiderman in law and politics.

Behind closed doors, however, Tanya’s life was anything but ideal. Schneiderman became controlling, mean, and manipulative. He drank heavily and used sedatives. Sex turned violent, and he called Tanya—who was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Southern California—his “brown slave.” He isolated and manipulated her, even threatening to kill her if she tried to leave.

Twenty-five percent of women in America are victims of domestic abuse. Tanya never thought she would be a part of this statistic. Growing up, she witnessed her father physically and emotionally abuse her mother. Tanya knew the patterns and signs of domestic violence, and did not see herself as remotely vulnerable. Yet what seemed impossible was suddenly a terrifying reality: she was trapped in a violent relationship with one of the most powerful men in New York.

Sensitive and nuanced, written with the gripping power of a dark psychological thriller, Assume Nothing details how Tanya’s relationship 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. In sharing her story, Tanya analyzes the insidious way women from all walks of life learn to accept abuse, and redefines what it means to be a victim of intimate violence.

About Tanya Selvaratnam:
Tanya Selvaratnam is a writer and an Emmy-nominated and multiple Webby-winning producer with more than twenty-five years of experience in the areas of arts and social justice. She has produced for the Vision & Justice Project; Joy To The Polls; Aubin Pictures; Glamour Women of the Year; The Meteor; For Freedoms; Rubell Family Collection; The Shed; NGO Forum/Fourth World Conference on Women in China; and Planned Parenthood. She has collaborated with numerous artists including Liz Garbus, Catherine Gund, Tiffany Shlain, Mickalene Thomas, Hank Willis Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems. Selvaratnam is the author of THE BIG LIE and Assume Nothing: A Story of Intimate Violence. Her essays have been published in the New York Times, Vogue, Glamour, CNN, The Art Newspaper, SheKnows, and McSweeney’s. She received her graduate and undergraduate degrees in Chinese language and legal history from Harvard University.

Event information
Thu Mar 11, 2021
12:00pm - 1:00pm EDT