Domestic Violence in Romance

At RWA last July, I was at lunch with author Adriana Herrera and we started talking about a book I’d recently read where a heroine flees her abusive husband. Adriana works with victims of domestic violence, and she was worried that most romances don’t accurately portray abusive relationships.

The statistics on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in America are grim and unsettling. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience severe physical violence in their lifetime. Both Adriana and I believe that romance is a powerful force for change. Romance authors have a responsibility to accurately portray IPV because readers who are in abusive homes might use what they learn from books as they try to escape.

As we talked, I was chastened to realize that the domestic violence in the book I’d read was simply a plot device—just a way to get the heroine back in the hero’s orbit, and not a thorough description of the very real danger the heroine faced or a nuanced exploration of her long road to recovery. Our conversation really stuck with me and I’m thrilled Adriana had the idea of sharing her expertise with the readers and writers in the Smart Bitches community.

CW/TW: discussion of domestic abuse, sexual violence, intimate partner violence.

Jen: First tell me a little bit about yourself as a writer and also your expertise in the area of domestic violence.

Adriana Herrera: I’ll give you the shortish version! I’m an Afro-Latinx, bi, cis woman, and I started writing romance because I got tired of waiting for someone to write a story which centered characters like me, so I wrote one. LOL. My debut novel, American Dreamer is coming out in March of next year with Carina Press. It’s a contemporary M/M romance about Nesto Vasquez, a New York City-bred Dominican entrepreneur who sets out to bring Afro-Caribbean cuisine to Upstate New York. While trying to shake up the food truck scene in Ithaca, he falls for Jude, a sharp-tongued librarian, and finds love along the way. Dreamer is the first of a four books series. The rest of the series follows Nesto’s three best friends, who also have Afro-Caribbean roots as they chase after their dreams and get unapologetic happy endings of their own.

About my day job: I’m a social worker, and I work in the domestic and sexual violence field. I became interested in advocating for victims/survivors of this type of violence when I worked for international humanitarian relief organizations in East Africa, and Central and South America. In 2011, after seven years overseas, my partner and I came back to the U.S. Since then, I’ve been working in nonprofit social services agencies which provide advocacy and services for children and adult survivors of domestic violence, adult sexual assault and child sexual abuse.

Jen: I will never forget the disappointment and regret in your voice when you said that domestic violence “should never be a plot device and these women deserve better.” But like many readers, I want to see the full range of human experience in romance and I want all romance readers to see that they deserve an HEA. Given the difficulty of this topic, how can authors responsibly portray domestic violence?

Adriana: This is a great question, and I completely agree. I think it’s incredibly important to accurately and respectfully render these experiences. Domestic and sexual violence are both considered public health issues by the Center for Disease Control. This type of violence touches every community in this country. That’s the reality.

It is also a reality that these victims/survivors fight like hell to find safety, and their own happy endings. So we should be honoring those stories of strength and resilience when we write characters who have survived domestic violence. I think a lot about how I bear witness to the stories which people I serve entrust me with. When I write, I try to be mindful of being a good witness for my characters too.

I think about my role when writing a character with a trauma history as something similar to a therapeutic relationship. In trauma work there is a model that uses the acronym RICH to describe the four most important elements of the relationship between a treater and a victim/survivor. RICH stands for, respect, information, connection, and hope. If these things are present then we have a better chance of promoting healing and a transformative change in the lives of those we work with. I keep those tenets in mind in my writing as well.

Jen: I remember from our conversation that one of the most dangerous times for a woman is when they try to leave an abusive home. It may not be realistic to have a woman jump in her car and drive away. You described how vital it is for women leaving abusive situations to have a “safety plan.” Can you talk a little more about how that works in real life?

Adriana: In my work a safety plan is a tool used to maximize survivor safety at any stage. When working with survivors, safety planning happens constantly. That means we think about not just physical safety, but also emotional and psychological safety. We can safety plan something as simple as a conversation with an abusive partner, to something as complicated as fleeing to another state, with children and pets in the middle of the night.

It all depends on what each person needs, and their own sense of how they can stay safe. There are many kinds of safety plans available online, for anyone who would like to know more about this great tool, this is a good place to start.

Jen: That toolkit is amazing. Just knowing that it exists could help so many people who are themselves or have friends in abusive relationships. In other words, if we go back to the RICH model you mentioned above, romance authors can be a valuable source of information for their readers. Are there other vital, important issues that romance authors who tackle domestic violence should include?

Adriana: First, I think a vital part of writing a character with a trauma history is to understand the ways in which the effects of that type of trauma can manifest in a person. Domestic violence in particular is a complex experience, which can have very serious and lasting effects on the person’s sense of safety and sense of self. When writing these stories we must take care to honor what the survivor has lived through, and how they arrived to a place of safety.

Trauma and Recovery
A | BN | K | AB
Judith Herman in her book Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, which is canon for those of us who work in the field of trauma, proposes that the fundamental stages of recovery are: establishing safety (I would add here both physical and emotional), reconstructing the trauma story, and restoring the connection between survivors and their community.

There are many things that the romance novel organically gets right when presenting the stories of survivors, we just need to make sure we don’t miss any steps. We must take care to craft a story which gives our characters a viable chance at that happy ending, and there are no shortcuts when it comes to healing from trauma.

Second, we must be careful not to fall for the problematic beliefs surrounding domestic violence. The myth of the damaged (abusive) man who is changed by “the right woman,” is one I would love to see disappear. Lundy Bancroft in Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, talks about the dangerous myth of the “abuser as a man whose gentle humanity is just barely hidden under his abusive surface and who can be transformed by love, compassion and insight.”

We must move away from the perception that violence against women and men in an intimate relationship is only extreme physical violence. When we write stories of men who are emotionally cruel or verbally demeaning to their love interests we play into the idea that abuse is somehow about feelings, or caused by a “tortured past.” Abuse is about power and control, and it emanates from the abuser’s attitudes and values. A person who is abusive believes they are entitled to control their partner and to treat them as their property.

Why Does He Do That?
A | BN | K | AB
We don’t want to fall into the trap of justifying or propagating harmful constructs. Emotional cruelty masked as courting or flirting is also something I wish we’d move past as a genre, because we are perpetuating harmful paradigms for the sake of tension. If the external conflict involves one MC verbally degrading or humiliating the other, then what we are saying is that behavior is not only acceptable but “attractive.” And we’re setting up a situation which (in reality) will likely result in more negative and abusive behavior as the relationship deepens.

Finally, it is important to consider our own biases about what domestic violence looks like, and start from there. For me, the bottom line is this: if you’re not willing to do the work to research how domestic violence impacts the lives of survivors/victims, then it might not be the story you should tell.

Jen: Are there special concerns or issues for domestic violence in queer relationships that we should be aware of?

Adriana: There is a societal perception that intimate partner violence does not occur within LGBTQ relationships. However, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, intimate partner violence in same sex couples occurs at the same (possibly even higher) rates as in heterosexual relationships.

Unfortunately, victims/survivors in the LGBTQ community report these incidents at much lower rates, in many cases because they do not feel like the police would be willing to help. There are certain unique characteristics to IPV for LGBTQ persons, such a fear of being outed by their partner. Another reason is that the partner may be the sole support person the victim/survivor has as a result of coming out, and may feel like ending the relationship would leave them without anyone.

An additional issue with reporting, could be prior negative contact with law enforcement when trying to report bullying or a hate crime. These previous traumatic experiences may make LGBTQ victims reluctant to reach out for help. When writing stories of LGBTQ couples where there is IPV, authors should be mindful there are factors to consider that may make the situation more complex and the victim that much more vulnerable.

Jen: Why is it so urgent for romance writers to get it right when it comes to portraying IPV?

Adriana: I really think that romance as a genre has a responsibility to get themes related to gender-based violence, not just right, but to be a beacon pushing forward this conversation. I am constantly blown away by the many parallels between the world of domestic and sexual violence survivors advocacy and Romancelandia. Both were movements created by women and for women– to lift each other up, to empower, create a safe space and foster community. Both are rooted in feminism, offer hope and strive to affirm that everyone deserves a happy ending.

We must keep in mind that we write not just to bring attention to these very important issues, but we write so women and men who have lived through these experiences can find reflections of themselves. When we are careless with those stories, we are letting down people who pick up our books hoping to feel seen.

Jen: Can you recommend books that you did a good job of portraying domestic violence? This doesn’t have to be romance, necessarily.

Adriana: Unfortunately, I don’t read (or watch) a lot of fiction with characters who have experienced domestic or sexual violence. I get a front seat to a lot of it on a daily basis, and as a way to manage the vicarious trauma that happens in this work, it’s part of my self-care. I do however, read A LOT about trauma, and have some recommendations for authors thinking of writing characters with these types of trauma histories. Here are a few:

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence, from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror by Judith Herman ( A | BN | K | G | AB )

Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft (This book has an extensive resources section with further reading recommendations.) ( A | BN | K | G | AB )

The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk ( A | BN | K | G | AB )

Disclaimer: All of these books have graphic descriptions of traumatic experiences, which may be triggering.

Jen: What can we do if we suspect that a friend is in an abusive relationship? Are there resources you recommend?

Adriana: Always respect your friend’s privacy and their confidence. Be there for them and validate their feelings without judgement. Don’t push them to leave or tell them what you think they should do. Let them know they are not alone, and that they deserve to feel safe in their home, in their body, and in their mind. Trust your friend’s sense of their own experience and safety, and acknowledge that they are the experts in their own situation. Educate yourself in domestic violence and how it happens.

These are some great places you can find out how to be a good support system for a loved one in an abusive relationship.

Jen: The most important question I can think of is this one: what if someone reading this is trying to escape an abusive home? What is a first step they can take for themselves?

Adriana: This is also a really great question. My answer has two parts. One for those who think they may be in an abusive relationship, and a second one for those who know they are, and would like to start making a plan to leave.

If you think you’re in an abusive relationship, trust yourself and that feeling, and get informed. If it is safe for you to go online, this link will take you to a great set of questions which may help you figure out if what you are experiencing is abuse.

If you know you’re in an abusive relationship and you’re thinking about leaving, first, know this is not your fault and you are not causing what is happening. Abusers turn relationships abusive, not their partners.

Second, if it’s safe to do so, check out this toolkit provided by the National Domestic Violence Hotline on preparing a path to safety. This will give you some ideas of what to keep in mind as you start planning.

If you can do so safely, also contact your local domestic violence services agency hotline. There you will find advocates and/or counselors who can provide support, and help you figure out some first steps in your journey to find safety.

Jen: How can romance readers help survivors of domestic abuse? What are the non-profits we can support with our time and money?

Adriana: No matter where you live or who you are, there are people in your community, people you know, who are experiencing this type of violence. A great place to find your local domestic violence services agency is:

Jen: Thank you, Adriana. I was so moved when you said above that “there are no shortcuts when it comes to healing from trauma.” I want authors to get this representation right because I want people who have escaped violence to read romance and know they deserve an HEA; but more importantly, that as trauma survivors, they deserve the time to heal and recover from their past.

One way our conversation has changed me as a reader is that I am much more tuned in to how IPV is portrayed in the books I read. Now that we’ve had this conversation, I will be looking for:

1) a description of the character’s process for leaving and the mention of a safety plan.

2) that the author doesn’t romanticize the abuser’s behavior and clearly describes the dangers of leaving.

3) that there is description of the healing process and that the character doesn’t just magically recover and jump into another relationship.

Adriana also mentioned that she was thinking of pitching a session for next year’s RWA about this topic so that authors could learn more about how to responsibly and accurately portray intimate partner violence in their books. I hope she does! This is an urgent topic and we all benefit if romance does a better job of teaching readers how to identify, safely survive, and escape domestic violence.

Jennifer Prokop has been reading romance ever since she found a bag of remaindered paperbacks in her grandmother’s basement when she was a teenager. She writes romance reviews for The Book Queen and you can find her on Twitter @JenReadsRomance. She’s also created a website to help readers find romances based on genres and tropes, which you find at Jen Reads Romance.

Adriana Herrera was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last sixteen years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.

When’s she not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex trips with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a social worker in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Her debut novel, American Dreamer, will be out in March of 2019 from Carina Press. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and at her website

Comments are Closed

  1. Katrina says:

    If anyone is looking for a book that does have the 3 things Adriana recommends in romance novels that depict IPV, then Nora Roberts’ Dance Upon the Air is pretty good. (Paranormal contemporary Romance, first in a series, heroine continues to heal across the trilogy but gets her HEA with a gentle partner.)

  2. Luce says:

    Thank you so much for this entry, ladies. Incredibly and heart wrenchingly informative and a real eye opener. Romance novels that use domestic violence as a plot ploy always leave me feeling very uneasy (the same goes for subjects such as body issues and PTSD). It’s such a cheap and easy way to get a story going.
    This entry shows once more what a difference doing research would make.
    Also, yes!, to a session at any event because people need to know.

  3. Zyva says:

    An author I recently read on this topic was Don Hennessy ( The Mind of the Intimate Male Abuser: How He Gets into Her Head ). His work struck me as particularly relevant to romance writing because he centres abusers’ sense of sexual entitlement and frames their deceptive, controlling and coercive tactics as strategies to maintain access at will to their partner’s body.
    Also, there was probably more on the early stages of the relationship than I had ever encountered – and the grooming stages of an abusive relationship corresponds – through a fractured, nightmare mirror – to the courtship stage most romances take place in.

    (I should a caveat that Hennessy shares a failing I’ve found in most authors on the topic (not Lundy Bancroft and Gavin de Becker): they downplay child abuse. Evan Stark, a pioneer in the field, for instance, calls knock-on effect child abuse ‘tangential’ despite identifying partner abuse as the major cause of child abuse. Lisa Aronson-Fontes calls physical child abuse ‘harsh discipline’, which is jarring though her analysis is solid.)

    The big sellers (category romance) feature too much of an overlap between single parent plots and post-partner abuse for me to go for them.
    (It’s at odds with my personal experience for stepparenting to turn out well, while the author positioning the kid as an ‘obstacle’ or ‘blocking figure’ – at least until the hurdle of forging a relationship is passed – is painfully familiar. And my experience is far from unique. Cf Kylie Agllias on estrangement and Judith Wallerstein on financial abuse of children of divorce.
    Understatement; I’m not happy with writers (and some journalists) for lionising stepparents systematically – rather than restricting that treatment to the hefty chunk who deserve it through word and deed, not social status – and the less I see of it in broadly-defined Comedy genre works (i.e. those with a happy ending) that are supposed to comfort, the better.)

  4. Zyva says:

    (I’ve separated this part #2 out to give what-I-can-give-by-way-of recs pride of place.)

    For the reasons above, where I have gone beyond the synopsis, the history of partner abuse tends to be… “off-centre”, i.e. the victim or the perpetrator was never in the protagonist’s circle of trust, or has long been booted out – or alternately, the work is not a romance and ill-suited to someone in a mood for one.

    The romance that springs first to mind is:

    Kelly Hunter’s Her Singapore Fling / Red-Hot Renegade , a second chance romance where ex-spouses Jianne and Jake use a fake reunion to ward off Jianne’s stalker.

    Otherwise, it’s mainly manga. Long-running, ongoing manga at that.

    March Comes In Like A Lion / Sangatsu no Lion – Deadbeat Dad Arc – chapters 102-113, especially chapter 107.

    And Skip Beat , with a protagonist who was emotionally and financially abused by her foster-brother who she was in love with.

    It’s the trauma recovery story that tracks with my feelings the best. But the stalker arc is triggering to survivors of assault, I understand.
    And…for my part I think I only manage errant parents getting a gentler hand from the writer in the later stages because there seem to be cultural and religious influences at play which I don’t find ‘peer pressuring’ personally, not sharing the writer’s background. I suspect there would be compatriots and co-religionists who are as riled at this as I am by the stepparents thing, but my language skills aren’t up to fact-checking that.

  5. Hazel says:

    Once again SBTB gives me something to think about. 🙂

    Thank you for this thoughtful discussion. It opens up a number of questions for me about romance novels. I hope writers take note.

  6. Dora Benet says:

    I actually have no idea, but I’ve been told that romances and young adult do well in Maybe someone here has more intel about that as well as suggestions.

  7. Lora says:

    I realize it’s womens fic not category, but Sydney waverly in Garden spells by sarah Addison Allen is portrayed very fully as a sufferer and survivor of abuse and even her failed safety plan is shown and the violent attack that resulted from discovery. She is then shown as an excellent mother who has a long path to healing before ending up with a wonderful and patient man. It was a harrowing read, her storyline, but very well done

  8. KtB says:

    I would be very interested in an experts opinion of what books have a good depiction of IPV. I think the more we can understand how it occurs and how to escape and start recovery the more we can educate ourselves and others. I’d be very interested in which ones are good so I could share with my daughter.

  9. Sam Victors says:

    50 Shades of Grey is practically this. End of story.

  10. I explore a woman’s long road back from domestic violence in my novel, SAVING SARAH. Would love to know if I got it right after much research and interviews with victims.

  11. Consensual BDSM relationships are not abusive relationships.

  12. Ren Benton says:

    Many abusers call their abuse BDSM, and many inexperienced victims don’t know the difference and therefore consent to the abuse.

    BDSM is another issue that gets portrayed badly by authors who have no idea what they’re talking about.

  13. Huge kudos to Sarah and the SB team for giving these ladies a platform to discuss this topic. Jen and Adriana, thank you. It’s so incredibly important for us to have these types of conversations. Y’all are rockstars.

  14. Lauea says:

    I would recommend this TED talk for those interested in this topic, it’s from the prospective of a survivor of domestic violence:

  15. Susan says:

    Thanks for tackling this subject. As noted, it’s often portrayed inaccurately or rather offhandedly in romancelandia. IRL, it’s far more complicated, especially when children or animals are included in the mix. And it usually takes multiple attempts for a victim to leave before they are successful (if they are).

    It’s been awhile since I read it, but I remember being impressed by Inglath Cooper’s A Year and a Day when I first read it.

  16. Lisa F says:

    Excellent article!

    I think it’s important to also note that if you’ve suffered from domestic violence you’re not alone. Tragically, we’ve lost more than one author to the horrors of dv; every day I think of Nancy Richards Aker’s murder.

  17. Kareni says:

    Thank you for a thoughtful post. I was impressed with Lisa Kleypas’ contemporary romance Blue-Eyed Devil in how it dealt with the heroine’s abusive marriage and its aftereffects.

  18. ms bookjunkie says:

    In Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Scout’s Progress, the heroine experiences constant domestic abuse (though not IPV) and it affects all areas of her life. She realizes that as bad as things are now, what small protection she still has in the household from the presence of her mother will someday cease with her mother’s passing—and then there will be nothing to stop her brother from torturing her however and whenever he wants to.

    She wins a spaceship in a card game, and instead of turning it over to the family coffers, she stars making plans for escape. But first she has to learn to fly the thing. Slowly, in small steps, she makes new friends at the shipyard, meets the hero, learns self defense, gains skills. Her new friends recognize that all is not well and do their best to help her build up her skills when she is not receptive to their hinted queries about her problems. She won’t talk about what’s wrong and they don’t push her, but help her gain skills for survival in space.

    (It’s science fiction and there’s much more going on—the domestic violence is only part of the story—but it totally works for romance readers. Just beware that the HEA after the book ends…is seriously convoluted. It’s a science fiction series. People you like die.)

  19. Tam says:

    Seconding Lisa Kleypas’ ‘Blue-Eyed Devil’ for an excellent portrayal of the after-effects of an abusive marriage. I thought this novel was really, really well-done.

  20. Thank you for sharing this excellent post. I’d love to see a session on this at RWA Nationals. The reading list is also very helpful.

    As an aside, most community IPV programs need financial assistance because they’re non-profits. I know in the South they tend to be underfunding and one of the greatest needs is transitional housing. If people want to do more, they can check in their own communities to see what the needs are.

  21. Susan Neace says:

    Sheila Williams wrote The Shade of My Own Tree about a woman who finds the courage to leave her abusive husband and build a life of her own, eventually finding a new love. I worked for a legal aid program and the heroine rang true for me. The author is a woman of color. Her first novel, Dancing on the Edge of the Roof is one of my favorite novels, about a middle aged woman who is influenced by romance novels to leave her adult children who leach off her and devalue her to find a whole new life.

  22. Jeanne Hurley says:

    Trial by Desire by Courtney Milan is an historical romance that deals pretty explicitly with spousal abuse among other issues. From the overview: “Lady Kathleen Carhart knows all about imperfect marriages. For years, she has secretly helped women escape their violent husbands. She feels she owes it to womankind. After all, her husband is perfect: handsome, gentle, amusing…and best of all, he left the country three years ago. She isn’t even bitter about that anymore. Mostly.”

  23. Kim says:

    Agree that it’s important for romance to tell the full story when it comes to this topic. Thank you so much for using this platform to help readers learn about IPV and available resources!

  24. JudyW says:


    I also liked the book by Kleypas-Blue Eyed Devil. That book really stuck with me about the heroine trying to overcome the effects of abuse as well as her acceptance due to the gradual escalation. I could see how anyone would get caught up like that.

  25. Lindleepw says:

    I feel like “My Sister, Myself” by Tara Taylor Quinn does a good job of showing the aftereffects of both spousal and child abuse. Also, the dangers of leaving an abusive spouse.

  26. chacha1 says:

    Nearly twenty years ago I had a co-worker who was in a scary relationship. Her escape plan was put in place over a period of months with the help of her boss and other co-workers. She brought in clothes etc a little bit at a time and stashed them in the office, collecting enough things that if/when she needed to bolt, she wouldn’t have to do it with just the clothes on her back. It did come down to that. She left from the office one day, and drove to a safe haven she’d arranged in an adjacent state. I don’t think she ever came back to L.A.

  27. LauraL says:

    @chacha1 – What a brave soul! Dune Drive, Mariah Stewart’s most recent book, has a similar plot. This post has me re-thinking the story as there is plenty of food for thought as well as resources here. My thinking, and why the “shorthands” work for me, is the tragedies in a character’s past are another reason for us to wish them the happily ever after they deserve.

    I had often heard most domestic abuse survivors leave their abusers with not much more than the clothes on their backs. When I became a home-based worker, I donated several large boxes of business casual clothes suitable for a job interview or a meeting to a local organization that helps women (and their families) start new lives. I received a heartfelt thank you note from the director noting how my donation made a difference.

  28. Briana says:

    I think that JoAnn Ross had a domestic violence situation in one of her series – I’ll have to see if I can find which ones. It took place over several books and the characters helped the wife and children leave, they dealt with the risk of the abuser coming after them, and _eventually_ the woman had a new romance with a really good guy. But that was in about the 4th or 5th book. It felt pretty not-rushed and very true in many ways. (As far as I know.)

  29. Katie says:

    Blue Eyed Devil by Kleypas is also the book I would recommend for people looking for this subject. The character’s healing process is a major part of the story and her character arc. She continues to deal with the after-effects of the abuse for a long time after leaving her abuser. Now, while leaving was difficult for her emotionally and involved an especially severe physical incident, it was logistically easier than it would be for most women in reality because the character comes from a wealthy and privileged family and had siblings that wanted to help her. This book is part of series about that family, so that was kind of unavoidable. But abuse isn’t confined to any particular income bracket, so I don’t see that as a flaw.

  30. Jolie says:

    @Lisa F: Thank you for bringing up Nancy Richards-Akers. I hadn’t heard of her story before.

    A quick search about what occurred revealed that Nancy wasn’t the first romance author to die due to IPV. Authors Pamela Maculoso and Ann Wassall were murdered by their spouses in 1997 and 1996, respectively. This responsibly described the events.

    I’m surprised and disappointed that after losing 3 prolific authors, RWA didn’t host panel discussions about IPV. Here’s to hoping that will be rectified soon.

  31. Jolie says:

    Quick edit to my last post, which didn’t display my hyperlink:

    “This Salon article responsibly described the events.”

  32. Lara says:

    Catherine Anderson is very fond of having her heroines escape abusive relationships. That said, her characters are very black and white–the ex is always irredeemable scum who is so terrible you cannot imagine how anyone would get involved with him in the first place, and I can picture someone in a gaslighting or similar situation reading her books and thinking “Oh, well, my partner’s not *that* bad, I have never (for example) climbed onto a boxcar in the dead of night with my newborn to escape them, or fled to a horse whisperer’s remote farm, or huddled in an unheated basement apartment with my small child”. I remember that in “Silver Thaw” and “New Leaf” (which were the last two CA novels I read), there was some reasonable discussion of family law and the whys and wherefores of protection from abuse/restraining orders.

  33. excessivelyperky says:

    I was on a romance discussion list when some of us became someone else’s safety net; several members lived close enough to help provide a physical presence, and funds were forwarded to this member to help ease the way.

  34. AN says:

    FYI, that “possibly even higher” stat gets circled around by homophobes online, but it’s a misreading (often intentional) of the statistics. Same-sex relationships don’t contain more abuse, and lesbians are not more abusive as partners – but lesbians and bi women alike are highly likely to have suffered abuse by men!

  35. Researching spousal abuse was quite an eye-opener for me. Short of violence, my father’s behavior toward my mother had clearly been abusive. Growing up, it never occurred to me that my home life was anything but normal, but abusers are often expert at hiding their agenda. Since all my father’s puzzling contradictions finally made sense (thanks in part to Lundy Bancroft), my plan was to expose some of the fallacies I once believed inside an otherwise pleasant mystery. How gratifying it would be for even one reader to better understand her situation and be movitvated to do something about it. Sadly, the potential is there.

  36. Dahtims says:

    Two books that deal with recovered batterers are Trust in Me (Kathryn Shay) and The Burning Point (Mary Jo Putney). Controversial at the time because people thought it would “romanticize” abuse.

  37. Cynthia says:

    Thanks for posting this very insightful interview. I keep thinking of how horrified I was by the actions of the controlling “hero” in Jodi Ellen Malpas “This Man” book.

  38. […] Here is a link to Smart Bitches Trashy Books Interview with Adriana Herrera, who is a author and also works with Domestic Abuse Victims and they met at RWA. Its very informative if you are in this situation or you have a family member or friend in this situation. HERE […]

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