Off the bat, I don’t mind telling you that I was worried when I saw this handbook, which is specifically for female Christian survivors of domestic abuse. I was thankfully wrong and can wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone of any denomination for the practical help it offers alone.
Far from ‘turn the other cheek’, this guide is a really practical resource which could equally help anyone leaving a relationship which has been marred by domestic abuse. I wish someone had stuck it in my hand before my divorce.
It is specifically for women leaving a male abuser. I hope they (the authors) will go on and create one for men leaving abusive relationships.
Throughout the guide are useful spaces for personal notes, reflecting the fact that this is a helpful, practical guide, dealing with difficult emotional issues, and acknowledging that many abused women will also be parents.
About the guide
Its multiple authors break into small chunks what domestic abuse is, what it looks like. The second section is invaluable: managing the practicalities after leaving. It pulls no punches. For many of us, leaving a relationship means losing our homes, the shared burden of finances and childcare. The guide tackles this and behind it is a tacit acknowledgement that for many people who’ve been in abusive relationships, this may mean starting from ground up.
The healing and recovery section which follows is a format I love.Many of the chapters in this section are as helpful for other kinds of sexual abuse, including sexual grooming, as for those recovering from/escaping from a domestic abuse situation. The guide doesn’t shy away from the need for building back boundaries. It tackles, head on, infidelity, porn and mental/physical wellbeing.
Although clearly coming from a Christian viewpoint, the handbook leaves until the end the theological issues. It is a fabulous discussion, with a clear message: if you’re in an abusive relationship, the scriptures support you. God opposes those who abuse others.
While Scripture may have been used to keep us quiet about our experiences of abuse, to urge us to stay with an abusive partner, and even to justify the abuse, the Bible is clear that God opposes those who oppress, marginalise and abuse others.Ally Kern, Restored, Chapter23, What Does the Bible Really Say About Domestic Abuse.
The expertise called upon to create this handbook reflect the work of Restored, which is an international Christian alliance that raises awareness and works towards ending violence against women. Chapters are written by experts in their fields, too many (14) to mention here.
I have no hesitation in recommending this useful resource to women of all faiths.
Apart from anything else, it offers faith a valuable role in a modern world where religion can often be seen as at best irrelevant, at worst toxic.
I would love to see similar guides created by people of other faiths. Frankly, it would probably be useful for Christian leaders as well.
Restored, A handbook for Female Christian Survivors of Domestic Abuse, edited by Esther Sweetman (First Edition) can be obtained free (subject to availability) by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org