To increase awareness of Domestic Violence Month, this is a re-post about the intensity of writing a novel on the topic of domestic abuse. One out of four women live in destructive relationships. Some of them sit next to you at church or at work. Some of them are in your family. It is important to know how to help.
“Your book is so intense.”
Several readers have used this statement to describe my novel No Visible Scars.
“Yes,” I answer. “This book IS intense. It’s supposed to be because of the topic.”
Without the intensity, I would not be true to my characters or to the major plotlines of the story.
The main character jumps right off the pages of First Samuel in the Old Testament. She lived a life of intensity.
Abigail — living with her abusive husband during a time period and a culture where she had no other options. We don’t know if the abuse was physical, emotional or mental.
But we can guess. Probably all of the above, judging how women were treated during the time she lived and in her corner of the world.
I first wrote Abigail’s contemporary story as a nonfiction treatise, a reason for women to set healthy boundaries within their relationships. It was a plea for them to seek help and find hope.
But several medical professionals and counselors were writing on the same topic. The competition squeezed me out. I could not sell my book.
So I returned to the original call from the Great Creator, to write Abigail’s story and show how she prevailed, how she became a major figure in King David’s kingdom.
At the same time, I was coaching more and more women who shared their experiences:
- Husbands who turned vicious and took out their frustrations on their women
- Men who were smart enough not to hit, but still manipulative enough to create fear
- Boyfriends who attended church and pretended to be good guys so they could find a “nice” woman
- Husbands who knew all the Bible verses about women submitting but refused to learn how to honor their wives
- Male pastors who dismissed women as “emotional” and “reactive,” who refused to hear the truth and told these women to just pray about it
And the statistics grew. One out of four women living in destructive relationships. Children learning about skewed marriages where one partner is the victim while the other controls and shames.
Intense? You bet it is.
So I wrote the book while thinking of a pastor’s wife I knew who was belittled in front of their guests. I typed away the long hours while remembering a woman who was locked in her basement and fed scraps. Her husband was a deacon. Her pastor told her to lose weight so he would like her better.
The rough draft pounded out the anguish of all the biblical and contemporary women who suffer because men are more physically powerful and more culturally honored.
Even in the church.
And the book was published, sold and continues to sell because it speaks the truth about a horrific issue.
It shows the importance of knowing how to set boundaries, of moving outside the box to live a life of freedom, of believing that self-care must precede other care.
When I get to heaven, I want to talk to the real Abigail. To thank her for her courage in defying her abuser and standing up for her King.
I want to honor Abigail for the life she led and for those 39 verses where her life appears in the biblical account.
On that day, I will give her a hug of gratitude for the hope she offered all women.
Then I will whisper in her ear, “I told your story. It was intense.”
©2021 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved Read about Abigail in No Visible Scars, available in print, on Kindle, Goodreads and Kobo.
Intense indeed–but so needed!
Yes – sadly true.
So interesting to know the background of that book, which I gave to someone who was and still is being abused. I learned she had a learning disability so not sure she could read it. But praying for her all the time.
It was intense … thank you!
Thanks for sharing the book, Amy. I hope your friend will find the courage she needs.
RJ – I also wonder if by some churches sweeping domestic abuse under the carpet, more people continue to leave churches. At least that is my perspective. Such an opportunity for our faith leaders to rise up and protect women and children in their congregations. Thank you for writing about this topic.
Absolutely crucial, Shanna. People must feel safe if they are going to come to a place and worship.