Domestic Violence by Eavan Boland

Mysterious and compelling, Eavan Boland’s “Domestic Violence” is the narrator’s rumination on being happily married at the same time as her neighbors are in an abusive relationship.

“How young we were, how ignorant, how ready

to think the only history was our own.”

This juxtaposition between the healthy and the abusive relationships serves as a reminder to those not directly affected by relationship abuse that domestic violence is still a relevant issue to them.

Once naive to the phenomenon of relationship violence, the narrator and her partner fail to make an effort to stop the abuse after they become aware of it. Implicit in the poem is the narrator’s guilt over this lack of action.

“We failed our moment or our moment failed us.

The times were grand in size and we were small.

Why do I write that

when I don’t believe it?”

The narrator offers vague reasons as to why she and her husband never intervened in the violent relationship next door. She then confesses that these are just excuses and they were wrong to not intervene. Once again, domestic violence was ignored and kept quiet; she played a part in that cycle.

The full poem can be found here: