Not to People Like Us: Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages

Not To People Like Us cover imageThe groundbreaking book written by Dr. Susan Weitzman after many years of research on upscale violence. It’s the first book of its kind to lift the veil of silence on abuse in families with advanced educations and higher than average incomes.  This acclaimed book explores how affluent battered wives remain trapped in abusive marriages as a result of their own silence.

Book Description from

How is it possible for a highly educated woman with a career and resources of her own to stay in a marriage with an abusive husband? How can a man be considered a pillar of his community and regularly give his wife a black eye? The very nature of these questions proves how convinced we are that domestic violence is restricted to the lower classes. Now Susan Weitzman explores a heretofore overlooked population of battered wives–the upper-educated and upper-income women who rarely report abuse and remain trapped by their own silence.

From Publishers Weekly:

Chicago’s affluent North Shore provides 20-year veteran psychotherapist Weitzman with abundant evidence of the secret lives of “upscale domestic abusers” and their victim-wives. Shattering the cultural myth that emotional and physical violence in the home is confined to couples of a lower socioeconomic class, the author presents vivid case histories that are often excluded from clinical studies and statistics. Lacking a frame of reference for domestic violence in this echelon, health-care professionals ignore the signs, while law enforcement agents and judges go easy on it, she contends. Few believe or sympathize with a well-dressed, bejeweled woman if she finds the courage and self-respect to speak out against her successful, respected, powerful and often charming husband, while battered women’s shelters turn her away, assuming that she has many other resources. But according to Weitzman, she doesn’t. While often well educated and successful, the “upscale abused woman” is typically ignorant of her legal rights, convinced by her abuser that she is responsible for his behavior and isolated by her denial and shame from validating voices and potential assistance. Weitzman’s upscale abuser exhibits Narcissistic Personality Disorder, feels eminently entitled and is incapable of seeing his wife as a person in her own right. Weitzman provides excellent practical advice for these women to make choices that extricate them from abuse, and proposes a new language and better education regarding “upscale violence” for the professionals who are likely to see it in their work.

From Booklist:

Weitzman, a professor of social work, coined the phrase “upscale violence” for domestic abuse among the affluent, something that has been ignored and denied in research on the subject. Nationwide, four million women each year are victims of domestic violence, an unknown proportion of them from families with household incomes of $100,000 or more, according to Weitzman. In her 23 years of mental health practice, she noted the silence surrounding upscale violence. Affluent women are less likely to be assisted by police, courts, and counselors, because of the widely held belief that domestic violence doesn’t occur among the well to do. But Weitzman interviewed 14 women, aged 24 to 62, for this revealing look at upscale violence. She recalls a client who went to domestic violence court in a fur coat, standing among lower income sister-complainants. Her case wasn’t taken as seriously, though, like the others, she had a black eye. Weitzman looks at patterns of abuse and coping strategies and how abuse among the affluent differs from that of the more widely researched abuse among lower income families. Vanessa Bush


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