books to start with

These are in no particular order, yet, and as we can we’ll get some blog posts for reviews. A lot of these books will have a Christian perspective, and that’s because that’s the perspective that my life is lived from. But I believe that truth is truth no matter where it comes from, and I believe that even if you don’t have a biblical world-view, then these resources will be helpful.

Like I said, more thorough excerpts and reviews to come, but for now, what we’ve read that has been extremely helpful is listed below, in no particular order.

The Self-Centered Spouse by Brad Hambrick is from the Association of Biblical Counselors. If you find yourself in a never ending rerun of the same situation over and over again–and the counselor you’re seeing keeps trying to resolve “today’s problem”– read this book. This is a wonderful post Brad wrote on what power-control relationships look like verses mutual honor relationships. The post includes a link to his material on the self-centered spouse at the end. I read this on my phone on an airplane and bought four paper copies the second my data connected.

Boundaries was the book that taught me how to believe that what I liked was just what I liked. It wasn’t stupid or wrong or sinful. I know that sounds weird, but that was the small start I needed to make to start saying No, I don’t want to do that. And to understand why it was ok. Seriously, read this book. Abusive relationships are practically defined by boundary violations, so if you get a hold of these concepts, the path to healing may open up before your eyes. This is a great article of how boundaries work with someone who’s resistant to the idea.

People who don’t respect others’ boundaries have a basic attitude toward life: I should be able to do what I want.

Leslie Vernick’s book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage might have been the first Christian book that addressed abuse in marriage. I could go on and on about Leslie Vernick, but if you want to really hear it from the heart, this is the review that has been voted most helpful on Amazon:

I found this book literally after crying out to God one day to just lead me to the truth about my marriage. I was so emotionally torn after receiving advice from Christian friends to just hang in there, keep forgiving and keep trying to be the wife my husband wants, vs. a Christian therapist telling me I needed to make my husband face consequences for his abuse. I thought for 14 years God wanted me to turn the other cheek, submit, and love without conditions. This not only enabled my husband to continue with his abusive behavior, but it also made me start to turn away from God. I felt like God loved my husband and his needs far more than He loved me, to the point that He expected me to put up with disrespect, berating, name calling, being ignored all the time, being treated like nothing more than an object, some physical abuse, the list goes on.

So I found this book after doing just one Google search and I read what I could of what was inside of it through Amazon’s Look Inside feature. I literally wept the hardest I have in my life when I read the first two chapters stating that God loves me and didn’t want this kind of marriage for me or any other woman. That what I was dealing with was not what a marriage should be and God didn’t expect me to put up with it. It was the first time I had ever heard this and it was like being freed from a prison cell. (read the full review here)

I think what people miss about the real devastation of abuse is that it so warps your view on what God thinks of you when you’re treated so callously by someone who is supposed to love you more than anyone else.

RBC ministries has made available the opening chapters of this book, including the assessment to determine if you’re in a destructive marriage.

We have more from Leslie on the videos page. She’s amazing.

If you’re looking for one book that will finally explain everything and you have never read Lundy Bancroft’s Why Does He Do That? (and especially if you’re trying to help someone who may be in an abusive relationship) then you need to read it now. He’s been working with abusers for a very long time and he has figured out what is going on. He wrote this not to help abusers, but to explain them to the people caught by them. Read it. Lundy Bancroft is also on the video page.