When I was working on my masters degree I decided to write a major paper on what I then called “wife abuse”. On a subconscious level maybe I was looking for answers to the problems in our marriage but I know I was not conscious about that. I read every book I could find on “battered women” and found nothing that reflected my reality. This is over 20 years ago now so I don’t have a clear memory of what all I read but the main thing I remember from those books is that they all started with very dramatic stories of women who were beaten to death or nearly beaten to death. I believe what the authors were trying to do was to have their message seen as very important – “women are dying!” But this approach was not helpful for me in sorting out the issue in my relationship. The books did not say anything about verbal, emotional, financial abuse etc. I got an A on the assignment but finished it without getting any insight into my own life.
This experience was certainly part of what motivated Jill and I to write the book several years later. It felt to us like there was no book that really spoke to where women were when they first went looking for answers to their questions. One of the books that was published when we started to write our book was “Getting Free” by Ginny NiCarthy (a good book) but this books starting point was, “so you know you are abused and you want to get out….” We thought that for most women the starting point is more like, “I know something is wrong but I don’t know what it is”. The starting point for our book is with women’s questions. Abuse is very confusing and leaves women with many questions. We try to address those questions and gently walk women through evaluating and assessing their relationships for themselves.