“Crazy Love”: Leslie Morgan Steiner on staying with an abuser

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love, and love certainly deserves celebration. Except, of course, when it is “crazy love”— a phrase Leslie Morgan Steiner gave to her memoir, Crazy Love, of domestic violence as well as to the TED talk below. Her brief, 16 minute account of her experience of domestic violence is sobering and important to hear. She describes the “grooming” stage that led to deep feelings of love for her first husband, and the later betrayal of her trust by his sadistic treatment. She points out how common domestic violence is, and calls for shining a “spotlight” on this all too prevalent scourge.


  1. I also like how she describes her own perspective at the time: that she’s not a victim but a courageous woman trying to help a troubled man. We reframe it as a story of tragic romance so as not to see it for the common, sad dilemma it is.

    • Laura K Kerr says:

      Eve, you are so right. And those romantic stories are deadly hooks, feeding the hope that Mr./Ms. Charming is actually real, hiding somewhere behind the cruelty.

      Forgive me if I give too many reading suggestions (at this point in my life, it’s an entrenched habit), but Neil Jacobson and John Gottman wrote a book, “When Men Batter Women,” based on a study they did with couples. They concluded most women did not leave battering husbands until they let go of the romantic image of their partner and their relationship.

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