Learning the Dynamics of Emotional Abuse

The women I know who are survivors of domestic abuse are seriously fearless and inspiring people. When I began the process of writing The Benefits of Being an Octopus it was so important to me to get that aspect of the story right. That meant that even though I was familiar with the dynamics of emotional abuse from my work on gun violence prevention, I needed to do more research in order to get as many perspectives as possible.

Here are some of the books I found helpful…

Surviving Domestic Violence: Voices of Women Who Broke Free

By Elaine Weiss

“SURVIVING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE tells the stories of twelve women. Each was a victim of domestic violence, escaped from her abuser, reclaimed her dignity, reconstructed her life, and rediscovered peace. Domestic violence doesn’t just happen “out there” somewhere. It happens in our town, in our neighborhood, on our street. It happens to women we see at work, the supermarket, the movie theater, the ballet and the PTA board meeting. Every woman who has left an abusive man—every woman who has yet to leave—will find encouragement and hope in the voices of these women who broke free.”





The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond

By Patricia Evans

“In this fully expanded and updated third edition of the bestselling classic, you learn why verbal abuse is more widespread than ever, and how you can deal with it. You’ll get more of the answers you need to recognize abuse when it happens, respond to abusers safely and appropriately, and most important, lead a happier, healthier life.

In two all-new chapters, Evans reveals the Outside Stresses driving the rise in verbal abuse – and shows you how you can mitigate the devastating effects on your relationships. She also outlines the Levels of Abuse that characterize this kind of behavior – from subtle, insidious put-downs that can erode your self-esteem to full-out tantrums of name-calling, screaming, and threatening that can escalate into physical abuse.

Drawing from hundreds of real situations suffered by real people just like you, Evans offers strategies, sample scripts, and action plans designed to help you deal with the abuse – and the abuser.

This timely new edition of The Verbally Abusive Relationship puts you on the road to recognizing and responding to verbal abuse, one crucial step at a time!”


Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

By Lundy Bancroft

In this groundbreaking bestseller, Lundy Bancroft—a counselor who specializes in working with abusive men—uses his knowledge about how abusers think to help women recognize when they are being controlled or devalued in a relationship, and to find ways to get free of abuse.

He says he loves you. So…why does he do that?
You’ve asked yourself this question again and again. Now you have the chance to see inside the minds of angry and controlling men—and change your life. In Why Does He Do That? you will learn about:
• The early warning signs of abuse
• The nature of abusive thinking
• Myths about abusers
• Ten abusive personality types
• The role of drugs and alcohol
• What you can fix, and what you can’t
• And how to get out of an abusive relationship safely


The tricky thing about emotional abuse is that it can easily slip under the surface and make you wonder if it’s really a problem or if it’s just “you.” Here’s an article about the Twitter hashtag #MaybeHeDoesn’tHitYou that also gives a good sense of the breadth and scope of  emotional abuse.