Thursday, May 19, 2011

Facing Forward : A Life Reclaimed - Reba D + GIVEAWAY

I will be giving this book to someone who really needs it.  See the bottom of this post for details.

Summary:  Like so many women, I wanted a home, children, a loving husband, and a pet.  When life didn't work out the way I'd hoped by the time I was 30, I started to panic.  I was actively looking for love when I met a man who would ultimately change my life and the lives of those closest to me.

This story has a happy ending.  Unfortunately, not all victims of domestic violence are so fortunate.  There are steps you can take to free yourself or help free someone you know.  Through my story, you'll find out how.  You will walk away with a better understanding of how someone can lose everything to an abuser -- and when she is ready, reclaim her life.

What would ever make a woman settle for someone she knew in her heart wasn't right?  Worse, what would make her stay in an abusive marriage or relationship once she realized the truth?  A lot of things, among them, shame and fear.  Shame of leaving, shame of failure, fear of his retaliation, fear of personal marital details becoming public in a divorce proceeding -- and fear of suffering socially or financially by a divorce.  For some, there's the fear of being alone.  If you're unable to understand this, be thankful.  But also be careful.  Prior to my marriage to the pastor, I would never have tolerated anyone treating me this way.  (Summary from book - Image from www.mondialbooks.com  - Book given free for review)

My Review:  Facing Forward is a heartbreaking account of one woman's struggle to endure nearly two years of verbal and physical abuse at the hands of her husband. I warn you, this story is both compelling and disturbing. Once I picked it up, I could think of little else. I read it all in a day because I could not go to sleep without seeing the author safely out of her marriage.

Reba’s husband Philip is a seemingly dedicated Lutheran pastor, affectionate and attentive when he has an audience, but frightfully domineering and vindictive behind closed doors. Almost immediately after the wedding (and to be perfectly honest, even before it), Philip begins to insult Reba and berate her for the smallest of perceived offenses. To make matters worse, Philip's parents – who are, quite possibly, the most offensive, psychotic, and dysfunctional parents I have ever heard, seen, or read about – visit frequently and only uphold their son’s treatment of his wife. At first, Reba tries to stand up for herself, but when the verbal abuse escalates to the occasional physical confrontation, she discovers it is far easier to walk on eggshells and give in to her husband’s demands in order to keep the peace.

In Facing Forward, Reba acknowledges the red flags she missed, and those she simply ignored or rationalized away. From a outsider's perspective, it would be easy to see the same warning signs and say, "She's such an idiot. She should have seen it coming” or “There is no way I would have put up with that behavior. I would have left right away." However, the reality of abuse is always more complicated than it seems. Reba states "living in an abusive relationship can turn the most confident, secure, independent person into someone she never would have previously believed possible." Nowhere is this more evident than in Reba's own brief marriage as she transforms from an assertive, passionate woman to a fearful, desensitized submissive. Although Reba's situation deteriorated more quickly than most, such abuse is not uncommon. Her husband exhibited behavior typical of an abusive partner and it wasn’t long before she showed all the signs of being abused. It was only through her own determination and the loving support of family and friends that Reba was finally able to leave her husband and regain her sense of self-worth.

If I've learned anything from James Frey, Milli Vanilli, and the allegations currently swirling around Greg Mortenson, it is that sometimes people embellish the truth, pay lip service, or outright lie to make themselves look better. While it is true that there are always two people in a marriage and two sides to every story, I felt that Reba gave an honest portrayal of her marital woes. She was upfront about her own, relatively microscopic, failings in the marriage and accepted the blame for times when she erred, regardless of her husband's inexcusable behavior.

Facing Foward is a riveting narrative, but the author did not write it to entertain. She shared her story in the hope that it could serve as a wake-up call for someone currently living in an abusive relationship or lend some perspective to those trying to support a love one who is being abused. I recommend this book to everyone. Read it and you might recognize the signs. Read it and you might find the strength to leave.

My Rating: 4.25 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There were a handful of times in this book when the couple's sex life came into play. While I understand its relevance to their relationship and this book, I would have been okay with a little less detail. The pastor is also quite fond of profanity-laced tirades.

Sum it up: A compelling memoir of abuse and a life reclaimed.
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A Note from Reba:

For too long, domestic violence was something no one talked about in polite circles. But that didn't mean it didn't exist. Today, few people haven't been touched by it personally or known someone who has.  Today, we know longer accept it the way things have to be. We know we have choices, options and that help is available. As we continue to raise our social consciousness, we learn that it's only by facing this openly together that we can bring about the awareness that ultimately leads to change. If you know someone in need of help anywhere in the US, download a free state-by-state resource guide at http://www.facingforward-alifereclaimed.com/ 

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As of right now, this book has been claimed. 
You can buy your own copy of Facing Forward here or the Kindle edition (for $4.99) here.  

GIVEAWAY:  Because I feel that more people could benefit from this book, I will ship my copy to the first person* who contacts me at mindyoja AT hotmail DOT com.  Please only write if you are currently involved in or know someone who is involved in an abusive relationship.  Read it and, when you're through, pass it on.


*US residents only.  I can't afford to ship internationally.

3 comments:

Reading Has Purpose said...

I have not read a book that addresses this topic. I will definitely keep this book in mind should someone ask me for a recommendation on books about domestic violence.

Cozy in Texas said...

Great review. I wish I had found this book years ago. I stayed in an emotionally abusive marriage because I kept hoping things would return to when I first met him and he was charming and loving. Of course that person didn't really exist, it was just a front. I'll make a note of this in case I need to refer it. The one that helped me is "Men Who Hate Women."
Ann

Ally said...

Great reviews. I want to read this. I just finished "Divine" by Karen Kingsbury and she also touched on domestic abuse. I am glad more authors are writing about it and getting people to talk about it.

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