Prepare for a fascinating glimpse inside the mind of someone willing to admit their guilt and seek help. This book is raw, gritty, and sometimes a very uncomfortable journey through the eyes of an abuser. Austin writes page after page, describing where he went wrong in hopes that this book will help others understand and confront emotional abuse.
WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK
That’s what I liked best about this book. Austin goes into heavy detail describing what emotional abuse is and how to recognize it. He writes, “The bottom line — anything said or done that attempts to gain control over another person is emotional abuse.” (p123) Now before I explain why this is a one star review, let’s take a closer look at this book.
Reflecting over his thirty year marriage that ended in divorce he writes,
“Anger was always my friend and constant companion for as long as I can remember in this relationship. It was always my go to weapon of choice when I needed a win.” (p16)
“While Teri and I were dating it didn’t take me long to discover I could get just about anything I wanted if I got mad at Teri.”
“I constantly had to amp up my anger response to get what I wanted because Teri would condition herself to my current level and sometimes not back down and give in as I anticipated.” (p21)
“Yet outside the home I was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. Most abusers are.” (p23)
“I became a master of manipulation making everything look like somehow it was all her fault and I was the victim.” (p26)
“In some sick, twisted way, I thought this kind of behavior between a husband and wife was normal.” (p27)
“My underlying reason for the abuse, control, and manipulation was in some sick way to keep Teri dependent on me so she would not leave me.” (p51)
As you’d expect, after thirty years of this, his wife reaches a breaking point where she finally asks for a divorce. Once again Austin admits fault saying, “I had no one to blame but myself.” (p56)
As Austin experiences separation and divorce, the Holy Spirit deals with his heart that he is an abuser. Austin describes having to come to grips with who he really is and that
“me being angry wasn’t a character flaw. . . it WAS my character, my identity, what I was in one form or another almost everyday of my life.” (p52)
Austin begins to seek professional help and try to change. After the divorce Austin apologizes to his wife for “making you have to divorce me. There was no other way for me to wake up and realize how I was in our marriage.” (p115).
That’s just a few of the really helpful points that Austin makes throughout this book. There’s a lot more really helpful points including a warning to AVOID marriage counseling when seeking help for an abusive relationship.
Austin writes about how the issue of emotional abuse is being swept under the rug and “rarely talked about or ousted for what it really is — a silent killer.” (p1)
He warns people that if they visit a counselor for help and that counselor insists on joint marriage counseling first — then walk away because you won’t find the help you need there. He points out that even when he and his wife sought professional help “not once did the question of abuse come up during years of seeing both secular and Christian counselors.” (p4) That’s a real problem, especially in the church. However, just to be clear, Austin does recommend seeking professional help — but distinguishes between types of counseling that aren’t helpful in dealing with abuse.
The best chapter of this book is when Austin writes a full length apology to his wife. This chapter goes into extensive detail that can help people identify the subtle ways that emotional abuse and neglect seep into a relationship. Austin apologizes for things like “thinking that I always knew what was best for you and never validating your feelings.” (page 110)
Another really interesting chapter is when Austin describes growing up under a narcissistic mother. This chapter helps identify the most subtle forms of manipulation. To give you an idea of how far his mother was willing to go for control — at one point she pretends to commit suicide as a ploy to gain his sympathy! He tries to escape by leaving home as a teenager to serve in the military. Once again his mother finds a way to drag him back home by manipulating the military!
Austin describes how this unhealthy relationship bled over into his marriage. “Neither Teri nor I could see that the abuse, control, manipulation and anger Mom was exhibiting towards me was flowing through me and on to her.” (p103)
Reading that chapter, I didn’t feel like Austin was trying to avoid taking responsibility — it sounded more like he was trying to describe his experience so that readers could identify how the narcissistic personality operates.
That’s what I like about this book. I also appreciated that Austin recommends some excellent resources by Lundy Bancroft.
Another very helpful thing is that Austin included an entire chapter on how to tell if an abuser has really changed. There is such a problem in the church today with people pretending to repent to regain control of a relationship that more teaching is needed on how to discern the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Austin makes many really good points on what to look for including “equality of power — is there a more balanced level of power — give and take — in the relationship vs being all take as before?”
PROBLEMS WITH THE BOOK
Now here’s what bothered me about this book.
There’s a very strong self-hatred permeating every page of this book. Austin writes page after page, constantly beating himself up for the past. The self-hatred gets so strong that sometimes it actually sounds like Austin is verbally abusing himself.
When I came to page 29, I wanted to put the book down and declare, “Austin, you are a new creature in Christ! Old things have passed away. . . (2 Cor 5:17) There is NO CONDEMNATION to those that are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit!” (Romans 8:1)
Notice that there’s a qualification in that verse: “walk not after the FLESH but after the SPIRIT.” What does that mean? The Bible defines “outbursts of anger” as a work of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-25 (‘The Names of God’ Bible). There we are warned that “people who do these kinds of things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” But those who are in Christ “have crucified the flesh” and are bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit which includes “self-control”. Real Christians have died to the abusive forms of anger and choose to walk in love.
Anger is a really serious thing — one angry outburst cost Moses the Promised Land (Numbers 20:10-12).
On the other hand the Bible tells us to “be angry and sin not.” (Eph 4:26) because there is a good form of anger that notifies us when our boundaries have been crossed. Good anger is what drove Jesus to make a weapon and drive the money changers out of the temple. (John 2:15) We also see Jesus getting upset at the disciples (Mark 9:19) and the Pharisees (Matthew 23) (Mark 8:12) (Luke 11).
But the problem today is that the church only allows the abusers to get upset and not the victims. What’s wrong with that? When the church is pitying the abuser and putting all the pressure on the victim to try harder in the marriage, they have forgotten that “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.” (Proverbs 17:15 ESV)
The second major problem that I have with this book is how Austin reacts to his wife when she asks for a divorce. After thirty years of breaking her heart, Austin still pleads for more time. When she proceeds with the divorce, Austin doesn’t seem to understand that abuse is Biblical grounds for divorce. Instead he writes that
“Teri’s heart remained sealed off to me and with it, any sense of compassion or willingness to listen. Teri remained distant from me emotionally as if she was operating on autopilot.” (p63)
Right there he’s playing the victim — which is the same pattern of manipulation that he’s supposed to have changed.
“Divorce was not the right answer in this situation. It just didn’t make sense that God would break me free from the hell of my abuse after all these years and transform me while Teri and I were still together just to have it be the final act in our marriage.” (p77)
“Yet I could not fault her for her feelings. I knew divorce was not the right answer but after all I had done to her over three decades, how could I fault her for anything she felt she needed to do?” (p78)
What she needed to do was obey the Bible’s command to “Go from the presence of a foolish man when you perceive not in him the lips of knowledge.” (Proverbs 14:7)
The abusive form of anger puts the abuser in the category of “foolish” according to Proverbs 14:17 “He that is soon angry, deals foolishly.”
The Bible commands us “not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or IS ABUSIVE or is a drunkard or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.” (1 Cor 5:11 NLT)
So why does the church require wives to live and eat with these kinds of husbands? Besides the Bible already warned us that someone “with a quick temper, sins a lot”. Proverbs 29:22 (NCV)
But instead of teaching the Bible, what you hear all the time preached from the pulpit is that divorce is sinful and reconciliation is your only option. Hang on a second — if reconciliation is your only option than why does Proverbs 22:24 (AMP) say “Do not even associate with a man given to angry outbursts?”
If divorce is sinful then why did God Himself experience it? (Jeremiah 3:8) You read that correctly — when even God Almighty reaches a point where divorce was necessary, it could happen to any of us.
In a perfect world there would be no divorce. Then again, God put Adam and Eve in a perfect situation and they still managed to mess it up because all of us have the power to choose between good and evil.
That’s the third problem that I have with this book. When Austin starts describing what he learned from various Christian resources, you realize that these resources are teaching abusers to shift blame.
Now since Austin has already spent most of the book admitting his own faults it sounds really contradictory when he starts describing how these Christian resources helped him discover that his abusive nature was caused by faulty “wiring in my brain.” (p65)
Then Austin also briefly touches on the topic of demonic influence. Once again he is quoting what he learned from Christian teaching that “A demon controlled me — I was merely a puppet to its control and manipulation.” (p28)
Nope. Austin, you were right when you wrote on page 61, “deep down inside I always knew right from wrong.” All of us have the power to change at any point — “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, POWER, and a sound mind.” (2Timothy 1:7) If a demon was controlling you, then wouldn’t they want to keep you from accepting salvation? That’s the first thing they would do if they could overpower your will. But the truth is that while the demonic realm will try to influence us to hurt ourselves or others, we still have the power of free will.
Now back to this review — is it possible for abusers to change? Absolutely! After writing that “verbal abusers” will “not inherit the kingdom of God”, in the next breath the Apostle Paul says, “And that is what some of you WERE. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” ( 1Corinthians 6:9-11 Berean Bible)
Keep in mind that the Apostle Paul himself went from a violent background to writing two thirds of the New Testament. But that didn’t happen overnight. Look closely at the book of Acts and you’ll see that the early church didn’t trust Paul.
Ananias is terrified when God tells him to visit Paul only a few days after Paul’s conversion. Ananias reminds God about “all the terrible things he has done to your people in Jerusalem”. (Acts 9:13) Only after receiving specific directions from God in an open vision, does Ananias even consider being in the same room with Paul. He prays for Paul and God heals Paul’s eyesight, but the rest of the church leaders still try to avoid him. Paul spends three years out in the desert (Galatians 1:16-19) and then tries to visit Jerusalem but none of the other disciples want to see him. “They were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.” (Acts 9:26) This skepticism toward Paul was a good thing — they needed more time to find out if his conversion was real.
My point is that while overnight repentance is possible, it takes time to change behavioral patterns. That’s why I appreciated the chapter in this book on how to tell true vs false repentance in an abuser.
As Austin himself admits — he’s still in a learning process. I hope that as he travels on that journey towards wholeness, he will take the time to study the website cryingoutforjustice.blog [This was updated to reflect the change from .com to .blog. Editors.] which has many resources that can help him prepare to complete that journey and maybe even find love again someday.
For more discussion on Austin James’s book visit our post, Pt 3 CCEF’s ‘Counseling Abusive Marriages’ course — bread mixed with stones? where we discuss this book and quote from two other Amazon reviews.
38 thoughts on “Austin James’s book “Emotional Abuse: Silent Killer of Marriage—A 30 year Abuser Speaks Out”. One Star Review by Avid Reader”
Austin’s book and his YouTube videos were a huge help to me in my discovery and subsequent recovery from 30 years of abuse. I had never heard of or read about ANY abuser who admitted fault and changed so radically. It let me know that what I was experiencing was WRONG, that it was NOT to be tolerated nor was it my fault. I thought he spent most of the time practically apologizing to every person who had ever been abused, that’s how self-deprecating he was, but it was refreshing; even if MY h wasn’t apologizing, it felt good to have an abuser apologize. It was validating.
As far as his response to Teri’s divorce, I believe when Austin wrote the book, that was where he was at the time. I think he got it into his head what “God’s final outcome would be because he is such a great and miracle-working God” and when Teri didn’t go along with it, well, it must be HER misunderstanding what God wanted as opposed to HIM misunderstanding. It was only 7 months AFTER he had his breakthrough or understanding or healing or whatever word you want to use, and I think he still had hope that his change would save his marriage. The book is not clear on what his ACTIONS toward her decision were, just his thoughts at the time.
Abusers who change (though rare) have a process to go through and maybe he would word things differently now. I look back at some of the “misunderstandings” I wrote as I was going through the process of healing and I think “Wow, I don’t even believe that at all anymore.” I think the book has much to offer and just want to put my 2 cents in. I find that the more I read from more sources, the more I am able to synthesize the information, make generalizations and come up with my own understanding. Just as I was so swayed and brainwashed by church teachings for so long, I find myself cautious to allow anyone to sway me in a particular direction without me clearly understanding their reasoning and measuring the information against other views. Part of getting rid of the victim mindset is thinking for myself. I am at the stage where I “know enough” (thanks to ACFJ and several other websites) that I can recognize the good and scoff at the bad.
Perhaps because this book, written from this perspective, is so rare, I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
In regard to your suggestion that Austin may have repented even more since he wrote the book — of course it is possible. But if he has done so, would he not have felt obliged to make a public statement to that effect? Something like: “When I wrote my book, what I said about my ex-wife was still somewhat wrong. I’ve now repented, and here’s how I have changed my mind…”
As a writer who has been through the process of revising my opinion and feeling duty bound to publicly announce that my mind had now changed, I wonder why Austin has not done so.
I didn’t know he had put out YouTube videos. But since you’ve watched them, I guess you would have seen a ‘retraction’ video if he had produced one.
And Debby, I’m so glad you are confidently voicing your own viewpoint on this blog. We don’t want to create clones of ourselves! We want everyone to think for themselves, and you’re doing just that. 🙂
Thank you. IMO this is excellent information and great work, Avid Reader. Your discernment and ability to hear and convey what the author / abuser was saying is extremely helpful to me.
The quotes from the man which gave a close look inside his mind as an abuser was validating as this is what I’ve seen but has been denied by everyone in my life for many many years.
The subtle victim blaming and being extremely hateful attitude towards himself is a red flag IMO. My anti h would sometimes act this way for a short period of time. This often made our life chaotic and I felt uncomfortable and even (falsely) guilty.
I believe any abuser who makes himself a victim is a red flag too. I’ve seen way too many people jump in that band wagon and give enormous amounts of sympathy to the abuser where it should have even given generously to the victim alone. How terribly awful.
Having God’s actual words on what is actually said in Malachi, what Jesus was actually saying about divorce and how He divorced also is crucial IMO.
Thank you for the Scripture references. Gods Word shows me why for so long I wanted to and should have avoided certain people. I was shamed and treated wrongly for this by other professing “C”hristians. Still happening.
The sympathy is sickening.
Non for the victim. None from family. His or mine. The church is full of abusers. Fake smiles. Fake lives.
The sympathy for the abuser ranged from giving furniture, to God only knows what else. Does God smile?
His mercy and grace now….is waiting for Judgement Day.
I hope to read this book…soon… from what you describe the author has examined his conscience. He has experiences self-loathing, which has enabled him to see the wrong done: it is necessary for him to have the view he does, for these men have hard, stony hearts. His anger against self is healing in nature, this does not mean he hates himself but that he previously loved himself too much, and not the victim.
I would be curious what a person like Lundy Bancroft would say about this work since he has dealt with so many abusive men. They destroy us, spoil our lives forever, we lose our best years to them. They truly didn’t deserve us, nor their children we bore. They never say they are sorry. This man is beating his breast in sorrow and grief and he is angered…in the right direction. This is not to say he himself was not a prior victim: the behaviors are learned at home, in society – books, movies, music… History is alive in these men: but we can all rise above this. These are the times to make healthy choices for the good of society. He has made a good choice in sharing this book perhaps he will write another as he heals and learns to accept the past mistakes. The book is no doubt a wonderful piece of literature. I thank him for that.
Multi-generational victim domestic issues, surrounded by others today in the same sorry category.
CMP I hope you read other comments in this thread, and perhaps reconsider some of your thoughts. 🙂
Well, I hope these reviews aren’t starting to sound like a broken record repeating the same verses over and over. 🙂 When writing this, I was just thinking about the person on Amazon looking for answers. If that review is the only thing they have time to read, hopefully it would give them enough food for thought to reconsider what’s being taught in that book that at first sounds right because it sounds like what’s been hammered into us while growing up in church.
It was really helpful reading that review. Thank you for sharing it. I have been separated for close to a couple of months now, shortly after I found ACFJ. Just reading those points helped me realise I need to kind of ‘feed’ on constant reminders of how the manipulation happens. The last day or so I have been feeling anxious, deeply sad and doubting again (after having begun to relax and enjoy the peace of not being in his presence anymore). But the phrases ‘playing the victim’ and ‘shifting the blame’ jumped out to remind me again. We are in written communication. It’s supposed to only be about kids and finances but he keeps slipping guilting and blaming stuff in. He actually told me I left him, when he was the one who told me to get out!
I found it curious to read that the author of the book wrote a chapter on true vs false repentance but from the negative reviews I’ve read about it, it seems he fits under the ‘false’ category, but somehow he could write the list and miss seeing that in himself. It does seem like he thinks he’s in the ‘true’ category. But then, so does my h think that too now and he asked me to take him back. I just wanted to type back a row of ‘no way’s but I didn’t because he’d use that against me too. I just shouted it to myself inside.
In my counseling office, I often hear, “Well, I know what I did / said was wrong, BUT. . . .” And the BUT pretty much erases what went before.
Sounds like that’s what this author was doing.
I, too, hope he continues on his path of true repentance and learns what it is to have peace with God.
So true! This is what my husband does EVERY TIME he acts like he’s trying to work things out. I’ve gotten to where I don’t even listen to the first part (“I know what I did / said was wrong, BUT. . . “) and only to the part where he’s trying to get what he wants. The second part is where he then blames me for everything when all he’s (supposedly) trying to do is get something so small from me, and it’s the least I can do for him cuz I’m such a mean old troll who lives under the bridge, always blocking his poor innocent path to happiness! Fee Fi Foe Fum!
I’m sorry you have to deal with this. I am thankful, though, that you recognize it for what it is. Have you ever said to him, “Just stop before BUT.” If he can’t “apologize” without saying BUT, then it’s not an apology. It’s a manipulation.
Thank you for posting. I had previously left a 2 star review on Amazon for the same book. What bothered me most about the book was that the author said he was an abuser for the entire 30 years of his marriage. It is really questionable to me whether such a person can be a regenerate, born-again Christian. It doesn’t take 30 years for the indwelling Holy
Spirit to convict an abuser that their behavior is wrong and hurtful. The author had very low empathy for his ex-wife, or he couldn’t have treated her the way he did, or ignored her feelings of pain and invalidation. I think he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. As you point out in your guest post, the author is still playing the victim, and I also feel he invades his ex wife’s privacy (yet another boundary violation and indication of low empathy), by going into a lot of personal detail about his wife. I threw this book in the trash (didn’t even put in recycle bin!) after reading it, and I would advise others to skip it. I think the book would be triggering for many of those on this site.
While my abuser will admit to many of the things Austin describes, he still lives in denial about the majority of the ways he abused me. He wants credit for repentance, and for changing, and for taking responsibility. But he has conveniently forgotten 90% of the horrible things he habitually did. How can he repent of something he doesn’t admit ever happened?
He thinks we should be able to reconcile. He cannot accept the fact that his behavior irretrievably violated and broke the covenant. Because he denies most of it, he can’t see how bad it was, and he overlooks the overall pattern. It sounds like this is what Austin is doing when he says the divorce was the wrong answer to the situation. Do you see how he is casting off his responsibility when he calls it a “situation?”
The damage is done, and it can’t be undone. His turnaround is wonderful but the marriage is broken. His wife has been harmed, permanently, by his behavior. She can’t erase that harm just because he is now learning to behave differently.
Also, like Austin, my abuser seeks to escape complete responsibility for the choices he consistently made, day in and day out for the decades we lived together and the extended time since we separated. His excuse? He had “some kind of mental breakdown.” If that were true, it started the day we said “I do,” and continued for decades.
I don’t think that word means what he thinks it means.
I wonder if your ex would identify with this book if he read it. The red flag of claiming he has changed and is demanding reconciliation is proof that he hasn’t! I think Austin would not have had a complete repentance if Teri had stayed with him. 30 years of abusing ingrains that kind of behaviour and would have short circuited his repentance. I have no desire to read the book at this point in my journey , just reading the reviews make me feel like vomitting. Maybe in a year or two I will be a bit distanced from my abuser and feeling safe enough to wade through another’s situation.
I am glad that Debby reports that it helped her in spite of some of the blame shifting and wrong teaching he includes. Hopefully Austin will do a retraction as he continues to wake up to truth. It is my firm belief that if Teri had stayed with him, he would have regressed to abusing her again. I am sure my ex is still abusing, he’s just not abusing me. It is just too easy for them to find others who they can have power over (like our children) and continue doing what they do best! I actually hear it on what my my kids say – as they are forced to spend time with the abuser.
A few weeks ago my daughter told me the word for ‘the silent treatment’ in the language of her stepmom who had recently moved from a foreign country shortly before marrying my ex.
Well done, Avid Reader! Thank you for your review and insight.
Starlight, I agree that Austin’s repentance is questionable due to his demand for reconciliation. You said:
If an abuser has truly repented/changed, he (or she) would do the work of accepting the consequences of their behavior much like King David did after acknowledging his sins before God in Psalm 51.
Let’s hope, as Barb suggested in her comment below, that Austin will make a public statement acknowledging that his now ex-wife had every right to divorce him. Let’s hope that Austin will let her go in peace and out of love for her after all the hell he put her through. He could pray that she come back to him, and he should pray that God would heal her of all the damage he did, but he needs to stop attaching “strings” and conditions to his repentance (that she return).
Thank you for this. This is exactly my situation after 2 decades of marriage. My h is changed in many ways. He is no longer manipulative. But he’s still blame-shifting, questioning my choice of a non-biblical counselor, and telling me that my wish for divorce is unbiblical. This after a scant month of changed behavior.
It took TWO YEARS of separation before my h stopped all of these behaviors, admits with no excuses, no blame-shifting, guilting, scripture slinging, goes to counseling on his own with no prompting, etc. There were improvements along the way, but you are under NO obligation to “give him credit” for anything. You can’t “abuse less” and be acceptable. It’s like “killing less” or “raping less” or “stealing less.” You don’t get credit for doing it “less.” If he is changing for his own sake (which is the only way it will be real and last) then he shouldnt be waitng for you to do ANYTHING. I sense that you “feel” that it is not time to reconcile (if you ever do). Go with your gut. Take all the time YOU need because it is not YOUR problem to solve.
If I’m told I need to “give him credit” for “improvements” anymore, I might literally vomit. I’ve never heard the phrase used very often by other people. Is demanding credit where it is not due (and therefore why it is demanded) a common thing among abusers?
Yes, it is.
“Well, I never hit you and I never treated you as bad as I could have.” Oh yeah. Slap him on the back.
Having studied three of these men up-close and personal for the past 2 years and read everything I can get my hands on, it always seems to come down to one thing. These men want what they’ve lost to be restored. Their idea of “reconciliation” is that everything is made new and the relationship fully rekindled. In spite of the incredible damage they’ve done, they want all to be restored to the way they “now see” it should have been. They quickly become angry and accusatory when others don’t just drop the doubt and come running back to them because they now see the light.
They are still abusers at heart. They want what THEY want.
It is clear to me that sometimes things in this broken world can’t be restored: Limbs are severed, children die, fire and earthquake destroys. The best we can do is accept that the damage has been done and move on, looking to avoid the mistakes we made in the past, but living with the loss. Finally seeing after 30 years of abuse? Great! God bless you! But to expect / demand that suddenly all the damage you caused is restored?
John Newton is a great model of what true repentance looks like. When he finally heard God’s voice, he repented with great sorrow and tears for the thousands of lives he personally destroyed. He lamented that he could never undo that damage that he authored and was haunted for the rest of his life by the voices he extinguished. But he never sought to restore his status as ship’s captain. He worked in humble service to God’s church, often in menial ways. The prodigal never sought to be restored to his father’s house, but only came asking that he be allowed to live as servant.
Excellent points, Q!
I appreciate you articulating what I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The constant harping on the idea of reconciliation turns my stomach and now I know why. It’s proof of the fact that he really hasn’t changed, deep down where it counts. He wants what he wants and he expects to have the consequences of his behavior erased. You said,
Q, you summed it up with THIS:
Of course “the devil made me do it” is not a valid excuse. However, Satan and demons exist so it is very likely that – in an abusive situation – there are demonic forces at work. That said, it’s all the more reason for the wife to find safe refuge elsewhere.
But just as a demon may use an abusers weaknesses to torment, so may he use a victim’s wounds to torment her.
Being under demonic influence does not mean the abuser is not responsible for their behavior, but refusing to admit it can play a part is being obtuse. Particularly when abuse is straight from Satan’s camp.
This is exactly the type of book that an abuser would write. These core issues are so deep with them that they don’t seem to ever really fully get it. I have heard they are out there but I’ve never seen it.
Voted “helpful” on Amazon along with other comments stating similar opinions.
It’s is helpful to read these comments on Amazon, Avid Reader. I agree with what you were saying — Amazon comments may be the only thing that person has time to read before they buy it.
We are blind and in a fog until we know the truth about abuse, God, divorce, evil, His Word, Jesus, men and women etc etc etc.
Thank you for speaking up, AR.
You said, “Keep in mind that the Apostle Paul himself went from a violent background to writing two thirds of the New Testament. But that didn’t happen overnight.”
I am going to point out here that Paul also tells us in 1 Tim. 1:13 that he was shown mercy because what he did, he did in ignorance and unbelief. Paul was an astute Pharisee, but persecuted the Christians because he believed he was doing what God wanted him to do. He was not like the abusers I know, who abuse mostly for power, control, malicious rebellion and malice. Paul states that although he considers himself the chiefest of sinners, that he was only shown mercy because of his ignorance in what he was doing.
I, personally do not believe that abusers abuse due to ignorance. I pray I do not offend anyone with my thoughts and words here, but I do believe that abusers act with malicious intent, not because they believe deep down that God’s Kingdom is at risk, but because they hate God’s Kingdom and therefore, God’s people.
It sounds to me, that this man is still seeking a scapegoat for his abuse. It sounds as if he admits to some things, but that the mold has not yet been broken. Perhaps he sees why his wife divorced him, but still plays spiritual abuse of her by guilting her with the “God didn’t like that she divorced me” card. It appears that he admits to wrongdoing and abuse, but I get the feeling the next wife is in store for more of the same and maybe even worse. If he really was repentant, why would he write a book to sell to everyone in the country, so everyone could read how wrong, in God’s eyes, his wife was for still leaving him when at the twelfth hour of the marriage he decides to wake up? Just sounds rather fishy to me. He is still defending himself to some degree and until that self-pursuit theme dies, I highly doubt we are dealing with someone who is truly repentant and truly awakened to the power of his abuse and the destruction it did. Now there is a book to do even further damage to his wife, er, ex-wife. It seems he cannot really let her go and that smells like narcissism at its finest, to me.
Those are great points – that Paul abused out of ignorance and was forgiven. Unfortunately, I believe the biggest abusers in my life are just that – ignorant. They’ve bought into the ideas we rip apart here daily. They think that authority means they can bark orders and demand obedience. They think that those who don’t submit to their authority (husband / father / elder) are rebellious, unless the command was asking them to sin. They think that those in authority can and should use whatever means necessary – fear, shame, humiliation, corporal punishment, excommunication, etc., to bring about the deserved obedience.
It’s a huge struggle for me. I want to believe that the abusers in my life can be convinced that what they’re doing is wrong. The ones that abuse out of ignorance, like Paul did, hopefully can repent and restore relationships, but those that knowingly abuse need to be avoided and opposed. The problem I have is knowing the difference. Right now, I’m trying the wait and see approach – those who want a relationship with me will take that step. I’m quite discouraged that no one has done it, although cultivating a relationship with an abuse victim is probably not the most rewarding thing in the first place.
I read the book three months ago to see what a ex-abuser had to say about himself. I am glad the satanic blinders were pulled off his eyes and that he is trying to help others writing about his own satanic behavior towards his wife. I still don’t think these men will ever understand the anguish and emotional agony they have caused the one who they promised to love and cherish.
The Lord told me my abuser unless he ever repents, will spend eternity feeling the agony he caused me in this life. I wish Austin the very best in this life as he pursues sanctification and walking as a new creature in Christ.
Personally, I think Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why does he do that?” lets the victim actually see the abuser’s twisted and distorted thinking and how it propels the abuser to behaving the way he does. It was incredibly validating for me when God put the book in my hands three years ago.
Firstly Avid Reader, great review, (tho perhaps too generous and kind!) thank you for all your efforts… and thanks for ‘taking one for the team’!. Your review means I don’t have to read / assess it, it’s one more abusive voice I can choose not to listen to.
So many red flags I don’t know where to begin.. the thing that springs to mind tho is the laws that quite a few countries have in place that do not allow convicted felons to profit from their crimes e.g. by being paid for interviews or writing accounts of their crimes. Should Austin James be allowed to profit from his domestic violence? I’d be more inclined to listen to his ‘repentance’ if the book was published a decade or two after the divorce when he has shown a proven track record of exemplary non abusive behaviour (not words alone) and if he donated his book revenue to help victims of domestic violence or something similar and if he had the written permission of his ex wife to write an account which she has previewed and approved. Then I think he would have a lot more street cred.
I also see him using it as a vehicle to reinvent himself to be the hero of his life and to show his wife and others how wrong they are. If this is followed by interviews etc and you tubes and being ‘liked’ and followed on social media – he will get all the narcissistic supply he will ever need.. and how galling for his wife – being placed in an invidious position of the ‘public record’ of their marriage being a thing of his invention. I think about his wife- if she does not trust him and needs to escape his reach and divorce why would I somehow think he and his thoughts are somehow ‘good’ for me to read??
We make ethical choices with our purchases e.g. of clothes or coffee etc to ensure there has been no exploitation in the process of getting it to us… I think purchasing this book has an ethical element attached to it…. I feel for his wife and wonder if she will be exposed to secondary trauma and abuse if I purchase a copy and add to her ex husband’s wealth and notoriety.
Enough red flags for me to say I think I’ll pass.
I agree with you, thanks for expressing that so clearly. for now I will stay with Lundy Bancroft’s assessments of how abusers think based on his experience of working with them. He is spot on every time without the abusive manipulation thrown in!!
Well said, SavedbyGrace! Esp this:
I so appreciate this review and the insight that this book is just an attempt to validate the abuser and his “efforts”.
As time goes by I have a harder and harder time believing abusers can change. They don’t want to. My gosh, the basement could be flooding and my husband won’t even get out of his chair to look. Why would he do anything that would require as much effort as to recognize me as a person worthy of respect?
My husband recently said to me that he’s the man and he makes the decisions and as the wife I HAVE to do what he says. He said I was the worst wife ever because I won’t. The kids heard it thankfully so I didn’t have to say your dad “thinks” this. They heard and KNOW what he thinks. It gave me an opportunity to explain why he is so wrong.
He has no clue as to how bad he makes himself look in front of the kids. I actually am grateful for these moments as difficult as they are because they reveal his true character to the kids and they remind me he hasn’t changed (even after weeks of relative quiet–in the old days I would have thought he was past hurting me).
They only thing they change is their tactics. My husband recently made sure I couldn’t use my mode of transportation (I won’t say what to be safe). He’d never ever had done this before. I played dumb knowing full well he did it. I didn’t react as expected (by accusing him etc) and suddenly, miraculously a few hours later my transportation was restored for use.
There was a time I might have purchased this book but thanks to Lundy Bancroft and ACFJ I know better now.
Excellent comments pointing out his insistence on ‘restoration’ rather than the true repentance that would recognize and grieve (as well as accept) the irreparable damage he caused.
And if you look closely enough, even what sounds like remorse and conviction (the ‘self-loathing’) is often nothing more than the abuser momentarily castigating themselves over their failure to live up to their OWN idealized image of themselves… it’s STILL about them and their distorted thinking and NOT about the damage they’ve caused or attempting to make restitution to their victim.
I’ve thought of this post often since I read it last year and I keep thinking this….. this author DIDN’T have to use his wife’s REAL name. Did she give him permission to do so? She is now PUBLICALLY forced to endure many knowing her struggles and trials and it makes healing harder for people who have a shy nature or who are extremely private. To me, this just makes me think that he hasn’t really changed at all; that writing a book was just another forum in which he could brag about himself and strut around and degrade her.
My ex abuser has done the same thing with an online business that I supported with him durring the course of the marriage.
He used it afterwards as his platform to try to “smear campaign me” on the online business website on the “about us page.”
On this page for all to see, he took an an inkling of truth about his guilt regarding the divorce, and wrapped in a mountain of lies regarding my motive of leaving him..
Leaving the reader to conclude that maybe I just wanted to stop being a mother to my children, and insinuating that I maybe I was just wanting to be with another man.
This doesent bother me at all because I know its not true and really about him trying to salvage his image to the world…
But this does embarrass my older children because they know its not true.
In a lifetime filled with abusers, both personally and professionally, only one overtly expressed anger towards me. The remainder may have been angry people, but anger was not included as one of their tactics.
With only a few exceptions – one sibling and my “dad” – I was not a victim of physical violence. Sexual abuse, yes. Physical violence, no.
In all my relationships, every emotion except overt anger, was used to manipulate and abuse me . And in my abusive family of origin, each individual pursued their own set of tactics.
Infant sexual violation by my “dad” destroyed my emotional boundary. Anger wasn’t needed to manipulate me. The anger expressed by my “dad” was generally aimed at everyone else, with greater or lesser degrees of success.
Here is where I differentiate between anger and rage. Anger can be controlled. Rage cannot.
From everything I have read, from watching my “dad”, abusers express anger. They can control it, but choose not to – why give up such a seemingly effective weapon?
Personally, I have felt the difference between anger and rage. Anger, I can control. Even righteous anger. Sometimes it takes more effort then others…. 🙂
Rage, I cannot control. These are the times I have been yelling invective at “god”, through the lens of whichever abuser I am experiencing. I am appalled at the words that stream out of my mouth! There have been times when, of necessity, the Holy Spirit has literally silenced the flow of words.
Afterwards, I am left confused. I apologize, yet feel I am apologizing to both God and the abuser. To God, I am truly repentant. To the abuser, I feel I am grovelling back.
Working on two levels is exhausting….
….and I don’t know when that will end.