By Tanwin Tanoto
In an ideal world, this book does not exist.
Unfortunately, we are not living in an ideal world. Instead, we are living in a world full of sin, evil, brokenness and violence. It is sad to hear that Is It Abuse? is one of the best-selling books today. However, I am also glad because that means more people are becoming aware of this invisible issue, and more people are being equipped to identify domestic abuse and help the victims.
Darby Strickland is a counsellor and teacher at the Christian Counselling and Educational Foundation (CCEF). However, her experience with domestic abuse victims did not start after she became an expert. It started much earlier – when she was developing relationships with the women in her church – with listening well, following up, and being a friend. Since abused women do not go straight to the professional expert, this book is perfect for those who want to do what Strickland did before becoming an expert – to be a friend to the victims.
Is It Abuse? reads like a manual, and it is a good thing. It gives us a comprehensive guide to identify different types of abuse and oppression (physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, and financial) through a biblical lens. Being a Christian counsellor, Strickland does not only identify the symptoms of abuse, but she biblically reveals the sinful nature of those abuses – the sinful nature of control. She then unpacks the dynamics of control manifested in different types of abuse by using case studies. This helps in showing us the ‘face’ of these invisible sins in people’s lives.
Furthermore, this book is also filled with stories. Stories that will break your heart and stories that will encourage you with hope. The fact that this brokenness is real magnifies the urgency of the book. Strickland gently navigates us through each story and teaches us to reflect, and guides us to respond. Too many times, books like these drive us straight to the solution without reflecting on the people behind the case. Strickland teaches us the importance of treating each victim as graciously as possible – hence the importance of reflections.
With one in four women having suffered severe physical violence from an intimate partner, this book is more relevant than ever. The more alarming thing for me is that number is the same in churches! Seeing this issue impacting virtually every church and community, I am glad to have read this as a resource and raise awareness. This book equips leaders to better prepare for domestic abuse issues and helps us create a safety plan for the victims.
The Church is often the first place these victims go to for help, but unfortunately, some churches and leaders are not equipped to handle these issues. That’s why I am recommending Is It Abuse? to all pastors and church ministers. The book will help you to provide wise and Christ-centred counsel to empower and advocate for the victims while navigating the complex nature of oppression in domestic relationships and marriages.
Read another of Tanwin’s reviews HERE.