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Author and EHS Parent Advises Seniors on Recognizing Abusive Relationships

Leslie Steiner, mother of Tallie Steiner ’20 and author of the best-selling book “Crazy Love,” delivered an emotional talk to seniors last night about abuse she suffered in a decades-ago marriage.
Steiner, who works with an organization that educates young people about healthy relationships, advised students about how to recognize the signs that a dating situation can be harmful.

“Love is supposed to make you feel great,” she said. “The person who loves you and is your partner, even if it’s just a short-term relationship, is supposed to support you and bring out your best self. So anybody who makes you feel afraid or ashamed or embarrassed — that is the beginning of emotional abuse.”

Steiner told the story of how, fresh out of Harvard and working at Seventeen magazine in New York, she met a kind man on the subway, an investment banker, and began what seemed like a fairy tale romance. They married, but over time, the man, whom she calls Conor, began to isolate her from friends and family, make her financially dependent on him, and seek control over her emotionally.

His physical abuse began five days before their wedding and continued for years. She finally left him after a particularly violent episode and later met and married Tallie’s father, Perry. Together, they have three children, including Tallie, who introduced her mother for the talk.

“Often, relationship abuse is hard to recognize and confront, particularly in young relationships,” Tallie said. “My mom is here to share her story and to open up conversations for us here at Episcopal about healthy relationships.”

Steiner is a board member of the One Love Foundation, an organization created by the family of Yeardley Love, a University of Virginia student beaten and killed by her boyfriend in 2010.

A nationally recognized voice against domestic violence, she frequently talks with college and school groups. “Crazy Love” became a New York Times bestseller when it was published in 2009, and her TedTalk “Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave” has been viewed online more than 5 million times.   

Seniors attended the talk as part of the School’s evening programming while they work at externships during the day.