I’ve read a lot of books on abuse through the years, but this is truly one of the best I’ve come across. Healing from Hidden Abuse takes us into the mind of a psychological abuser explaining the who, what, where, when, how and why of this type of abuse. The author, Shannon Thomas, LCSW, then goes on to explain the six stages of healing which are necessary for any survivor of psychological abuse.
“Psychological abuse is perhaps one of the most hidden injustices of our times because it leaves the targets unable to trust even themselves. It is as if their lives are being violently shaken…and everything is swirling in chaos.” –Healing from Hidden Abuse
Until I read this book the term psychological abuse was not in my vocabulary. I had always referred to the abuse I endured as emotional and/or mental, but the author explains what the difference between psychological and emotional abuse:
“[Psychological and emotional abuse]…are two distinctly different forms of abuse. I believe that people can be emotionally abusive, but still have empathy for others. Loved ones who are struggling with addiction will harm others while living out their compulsions. They harm others while in their own lethal state. Once the addiction is fully addressed through recovery, most of these individuals are able to make an authentic amends for the harm they have caused.”
She goes on to explain about someone who is psychologically abusive:
“On the other side of the coin, psychological abusers damage others–not out of impaired judgement–but because they enjoy the control they gain from abusing people.”
“Psychological abusers play games with their targets, and know precisely what they are doing.”
I cannot say enough good things about this book. My abusive ex walked out in 2009 after 20 years of marriage and although I’ve been out of that relationship over seven years now, this book gave me validation after all these years that 1) it was abuse that I lived with and 2) that it wasn’t my fault.
I am a survivor.
This is the term used by the author to describe what most people, including myself, call victims of abuse. Why does she use the word survivor? Because she believes that people who have endured psychologically abusive relationships have had to learn to deal with an insidious form of abuse and often come out the other side stronger and more confident.
The definition of survivor given in the book:
“To remain alive; to carry one despite hardships or trauma; persevere, to remain functional…”
As a survivor of abuse, whether still living with it or having gotten out, it doesn’t usually feel like you are strong or even able to function, but as Shannon states in her book:
“Showing up for life every day is functioning.”
And if you choose to read this book and do the work to heal from hidden abuse then you are indeed functioning, you are a survivor!
So, if you or someone you know is living with psychological abuse, or if you are in a ministry or leadership role, this book is for you!