Spousal Abuse Book Not Another Sarah by Sarah E. Southerland
"Not Another Sarah" a book about a survivor.
The book is Sarah's story that takes the reader on a journey from the foundational point of the abuse to the ending point of the abuse, and all the process in between. It is a touching portrait of a woman who not only survives the ordeal but rises above her situation becoming a happy, successful, person who is attempting to help others by sharing with them what she herself experienced.
An abusive relationship could be seen from the dating and courtship stage.
At nineteen years old Sarah, far away from her home and family, recounts the feelings of loneliness and insecurity as she starts her first year at college. It is at this point in her life she meets a young man, William, who literally "sweeps her off her feet" from the moment they meet in class. After dating for two months, this whirlwind courtship ends with a sudden marriage. She tells of the signs that should have been recognized even then, if one only knew what to look for.
Looking back at the situation even in the dating stage of their relationship the signs of emotional abuse were visible. The abuser tries to diminish Sarah's self-esteem, her self-confidence, and increase her dependence upon him, through techniques of subtle manipulation, eventually isolating her from all her friends and family. He also insists on the relationship progressing faster than needful, telling her that he loves her so much that he couldn't bear to live without her one minute longer. All that becomes important are his thoughts, his feelings, and his ideas, leaving her with a hollow feeling.
Signs to look for in abusers:
- Yells or screams.
- Calls her bad names or criticizes her.
- Humiliates or degrades her, at home or in public.
- Ignores her when angry, "the silent treatment."
- Neglects her or withholds things or information from her.
- Forces her to do things she doesn't want to do.
- Is jealous and possessive, isolates her from all others.
- Lies to her and about her.
- Threatens to commit suicide and or murder.
- Threatens to hurt others, like pets, children, family members, etc.
- Intimidates her.
- Won't listen to or let her express her feelings and opinions.
- Always has to be right.
"He loved me...so I did everything he asked me to do."
Sarah describes the situation, "William told me he loved me and thought I was beautiful, but asked me if I would wear a different coat and shoes. Then he asked me to cut my hair and wear the makeup he bought me. After awhile he picked out and bought all of my clothes because he said he wanted me to look my best. He told me how to walk, what to eat, and how to talk, and because I wanted to make him happy, I did everything he ever asked me to do-including dropping out of school. It wasn't long before I didn't look or act like myself at all."
Sarah's latest favorite book on abuse.
Recognizing the "cycle of violence" or "cycle of abuse."
Although Sarah is married for only four months before she escapes her captivity, she is brutally abused both physically and sexually, to the point where she becomes fearful for her life.
She experiences the "cycle of abuse" as she witnesses the pattern or phases of 1) tension building phase; 2) an abusive incident; and 3) a honeymoon period.
In the tension building phase she describes the feeling of "walking on eggshells" wondering what will set off the next act of violence. Once the abuser exhibits his control over the victim by the use of violence, a period of weakness on the part of the abuser is often felt. This "honeymoon" period is one in which promises to "never do it again" are made or gifts are given to "make up" for the violent act, however like a honeymoon this period is short lived and the cycle starts again.
Depending on the length of time that the abuse is allowed to continue, the cycle periods become shorter and shorter or happen in more frequency.
More of Sarah's Favorite Books for victims.
Some signs to look for to recognize someone who might be being abused:
- Suddenly changes her dress or appearance.
- Avoids contact with friends or family.
- Suddenly changes her behavior; stops doing things she once enjoyed.
- Spends all of her free time with him.
- Cries a lot over insignificant things; has trouble focusing on normal tasks.
- Complains about her abuser but gets very defensive whenever someone else complains about him.
- Believes she is the cause of the anger or violence.
- Feels very guilty about the relationship.
- Is very stressed, often with physical symptoms.
- Accepts the violence or anger as normal or denies that it exists.
- Panics when asked to make decisions or give her opinion, especially about the abuser.
- Fears worse violence or even death if she leaves.
- Holds on tightly to the "good times" and believes they represent who her abuser really is.
Sarah, Mom, Sweetheart
The abuse finally ends.
Finally Sarah gets out, "The last weekend we were together, he kept me as a prisoner in our room. I couldn't move, talk, or eat without his permission. Finally, after three days, he made me take the trash to the dumpster outside, and before he could stop me, I ran away. I had run away before, but he always found me and made me come back. This time I went to my parents' house and filed for divorce. I pressed charges against him and went to see a counselor. It took almost a year before he was convicted of abuse. That was almost ten years ago, and I haven't seen or talked to William since."
Have a "Personalized Safety Plan" in place.
Included in the book, along with her personal story of the entire process of abuse from beginning to end, is a workbook on what you can do to help yourself or help a loved one in an abusive relationship. Included in this workbook is a worksheet she calls a "Personalized Safety Plan." By filling out this worksheet even if you don't think you will need it, it can help you think ahead and protect yourself if it were to ever happen.
Part of the proceeds from the sale of her book help the NAS Foundation fight abuse.
This book was not only a great eye opening experience, but one that is uplifting and filled with hope. Sarah not only lives through the process of recovery, she triumphs over the obstacle she is faced with of forgiving her abuser. Sarah Sutherland is the creator of the NAS Foundation whose mission it is "to provide and promote Action Campaigns to improve Public Awareness of Healthy Relationships and Prevention of Abuse and Sexual Assault."
Sarah speaks about her reasons for writing the book.
"Healing from this abusive relationship has been one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. I've had good counselors, wonderful friends, loving family, and a whole list of community services that have helped me to heal and become whole again. The best thing that I learned was that I'm never truly alone- even if it feels like I am. I know that I have the power within myself to make good choices and to lead a happy life. I know now what love is, and it isn't anything like what I had with William. Abuse lives because of silence. I was afraid to ask for help. The best way to stop abuse is to talk about it. The more you know about abuse, the more you can do to prevent it, get out of it, heal from it, and help others avoid it. You can help me make sure there is not another 'Sarah'."
Abuse not only happens to women, men experience abuse too.
- MenWeb-Domestic violence. 835,000 battered men each year, silent too Long...
Battered men: almost 40% of domestic violence victims each year. Help for male victims of domestic violence, men's stories, research findings, articles, gender polarization in domestic violence, international developments, links.
With gratitude... I review this wonderful book.
Thank you Sarah, for sharing with others your positive road to happiness. Your book made me cry and made me feel peace at the same time. Truly only the healing effects of the Atonement of Jesus Christ could have made it possible for you to be made "whole" again, as you experienced the power of forgiving. This you pointed out beautifully in your account. I would recommend that this book be read by everyone.
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