Friday, March 24, 2017

EVOLVING WOMEN….STILL HEROINES BY CATHERINE LANIGAN







I hope these lovely, talented, history-making women of the silver screen and recordings have caught your eye. They each in their way are favorites of mine for their intelligence, their individuality, creativity and yes, their courage. In addition to all this, do you know what they have in common? 
All were abused.
All were hit, screamed at, belittled and for years each had to right their own ship, learn their own value and get out. I have included one of my all-time favorite people, Whitney Houston, because her ending was tragic, but there were so many times, she was strong. So many times she fought the fight, but her tragedy is there for us all to remember that money, fame, talent, beauty and all the “prizes” of the world cannot stop festering insecurities when they are fed by an oppressive mate bent on their own power, their own needs before the needs of all others, in their paths.
That theme has long, long been the placard I hoist---the soapbox upon which I stand. Granted, I have other causes celebre, but in this current contemporary morass where hate breeds more hate daily for no reasons at all, so much of what is strewn on the streets during riots---actually began in the home.

This I know.

During the mid 1990’s MIRA was in its infant stage, just toddling onto the bookstacks at Barnes and Noble. Back then, MIRA put me on the road to tout, promote and extol our brilliant new line of women’s fiction. We wanted to illuminate and glorify women’s strengths, their talents and their choices in this world headed to the new millennium.  In the process, my agent and I devised an essay contest in which we asked women who had been abused to write to us about their experience and not only how they got out of their situation but how they triumphed over poverty, lack of education, lost opportunities. How they saved their children and raised them to be good citizens of the world. The letters flooded in and it wasn’t because we offered a “Spa Weekend Getaway” or a “Night on the town”. It was because they had something to share. Something to say.

Over the years we compiled the best of the letters and HCI agreed to print them in
THE EVOLVING WOMAN: Intimate Confessions of Surviving Mr. Wrong.”
This was the kind of book you don’t want to become a New York Times Bestseller.  This was a niche book meant to be handed from mother to an abused daughter. Girlfriend to another abused girlfriend. A father to a daughter. You get the idea.

For one month solid, I went on the road visiting Women’s Shelters from New York to Amish Pennsylvania, Florida to Alabama, Denver to Portland to San Francisco. The stories were more harrowing than any movie you’ll ever see. You don’t want to know what these women went through. But they did. They lived. They triumphed. They are my heroes and they will always be.



In April, I will release with the heartfelt blessing from my editors, Victoria, Claire, Megan and Dianne, “PROTECTING THE SINGLE MOM”.  My heroine, Cate Sullivan, is just such an abused wife. Though this story does not dwell on the abusive life she led,  she tells enough of it that is the same story that was told me all those years ago.

Cate is fiction. Her dilemma is not.


My Prism Book Tour starts in two days and yes, I’ll have giveaways and free books, but the real reason you should stop by is for my posts about my experiences and thoughts about those days back then when MIRA and HCI gave me full reign, and let me explore some very tough ground. Those days changed my life and I’ll never forget them.
In May, I will re-release my first book on this subject. “BECOMING.”  I just finished the edit on this story and for those who have any friend, family member, acquaintance that you believe might be in just such a situation, send her an e-copy. If you can’t afford the $2.99, write to me and I’ll gladly send it for free. My gift. My pleasure.


 Many of our Heartwarming stories deal with women who are starting over. Single mothers. Job loss. Insecurities. Death of a spouse. Divorce.  Harrowing health issues. And yes, abuse. As the authors we take on tough subjects, because life is tough for most all of us at one time or another.

We live in America where there is help for all manner of abuse. It takes courage to pick up a phone and it takes courage to help a friend.  Every state has a Domestic Abuse hotline. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-7233. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is 202-745-1211. 

Again, if you know someone whom you even suspect is in trouble, copy them about this blog. Send them my book. Give them one of these phone numbers. But don’t stay silent. You can help. You can change her world.

To thank you for taking the time to read this blog, I'm giving away my new tote and two of my Shores of Indian Lake books. Make a comment here on this blog and I'll announce the winner on Saturday. I'll need your address to mail it to you, so make sure you make note of my email or leave an email for me to contact you. 


God bless you all. 

Catherine 

44 comments:

  1. A great post, Catherine, on a very important subject. I had an "abuse book," too (The Debutante's Second Chance.) It was incredibly difficult to write and I am so glad I did. Writing about abuse is indeed making use of the voice of romance.

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    1. Liz, I more than agree with you and I will have to get your book. Thank you on behalf of all women and children going through this horror for being an advocate for them.

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  2. Thank you for writing this post and books that tackle such an important issue in our society. In my day job, I'm exposed to the voluminous domestic violence incidents that occur in our community. The numbers are mind blowing and quite sad. I look forward to reading both books, Catherine.

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    1. Jill, thank you for all that you do and see. In the United States alone, a woman is beaten or struck every six minutes. And those are REPORTED numbers.

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  3. Catherine, this is one of the most powerful and poignant posts I've read.

    My heroine in Sanctuary Cove was also a victim of abuse, not physical but psychological. In part, I wanted to show in my story that no matter how powerful or independent a person might be, no one is immune to abuse.

    What I learned through my research was horrifying. Abuse—whether physical or psychological—is prevalent in our society. Studies have shown that thirty-nine percent of women have experienced emotional abuse. It can start out in such a subtle manner that the person isn't even aware of it. Over a prolonged period, it can erode the person’s self-confidence and very sense of self.

    Since you provided help-line numbers, I wanted to add one for Canada. Disconcertingly, it took a number of searches for me to find information for a Canadian help line. Here is the toll-free number: 1-866-863-0511. The website (http://www.awhl.org/) also provides regional/local numbers.

    I think you know what I huge fan I am of your work Catherine, but with the context of your post, I especially look forward to reading both of your upcoming releases.

    Thank you for shedding light on such an important topic.



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    1. Kate, bless you for finding that Canadian phone number and web site. I loved Sanctuary Cove especially for the beacon you lit about how debilitating mental, psychological and verbal abuse is. This radiates out to bullying as well. But over time, the personality is destroyed. The soul diminishes. My heart breaks for anyone, anyone going through this.
      God Bless you for writing your book!!!

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  4. It's difficult to read and write about topics like abuse, Catherine. Our natural human instinct, perhaps, is to avoid thinking that someone is suffering because of abuse and especially, that there are people so cruel to inflict it. But you are right to force us to look at this terrible fact - and brave to remind us that we must never stop talking, writing and reading about it until there is no need to. A big challenge and thank you for handling it so eloquently and for refusing to give up helping.

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    1. Janice, God bless you and your awareness.
      I am moved already by the responses from you wonderful people this morning. I'd write more but there are too many tears in the way.

      All people, women, men and children need our awareness, prayers and compassion. There is SO much going on under the layers of personality and defenses we show the world.

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  5. Powerful post, Catherine, and no doubt powerful books. I've known women who were abused, either physically and/or emotionally. I really do think that books/stories like yours empower women and show them ways to escape their situation. These books, being romance with happy endings, also give hope for a better future. Bless you and all the other authors here who have tackled this and other difficult topics...and who make a difference through your stories.

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    1. Rula, you know how seriously I take my gift and talent very seriously. Our blessing is our editors who allow us to incorporate these issues in our stories. I honor them for the opportunity to help. In the grand scheme of things, it may not be much but if we can help ONE woman change her life, save her children, isn't that what this life is about?

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  6. Thank you, Catherine, for this eloquent post. My book, Man of the Family, deals with the sexual abuse of a child and the emotional scars that leaves behind. And as Liz said of her book, it wasn't easy to write. I look forward to reading both of your books.

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    1. Leigh, I loved your book and the sexual abuse of a child had to be so awful for you to write. Actually, I've tried it and failed. I couldn't get through the book. That was 25 years or more ago. It's just as tough now as it was then.

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  7. Thanks for the post today, Catherine. Also, for the work you do to bring this issue to light. It's not easy, as everyone has mentioned, but is a problem that needs more awareness and help for the victims. I think you've challenged us to consider what we can do to help. Keep at it!

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    1. Thank you so much, Tara! Everyone's participation is a blessing to me. Say a prayer today for all those going through abuse. God bless.

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  8. This is a really powerful post and very well written! As you mention, I think it's something that makes the heartwarming books reach out to all of us- we all have that point in our lives where something made us need or want a second chance/want to move on- for many different reasons! Thank you also for the chance to win your books- I'll be curious to read them regardless.

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    1. You are so right and this is what I love, admire and cherish about HEARTWARMING and why I feel so privileged to be included in this wonderful group of authors and editors. I don't believe in circumstance. I believe in destiny and that I'm always in the right place at the right time. Being here with HEARTWARMING--our way of bringing happy endings to difficult relationships DOES give hope.

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    2. Hi! Could you send me your email and then I can get your email. You won a prize from me...books and tote. I want to send them to you!

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  9. Thank you for what you've done to shine a light on these brave women. Sharing this on Facebook and Twitter.

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    1. Patricia, thanks for the SHARES. We need them!

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  10. Catherine, I'm half way through reading Protecting a Single Mom. I wish I didn't have things to do so that I can't read straight through. Already I want to throttle her ex. I volunteered for a long time at an abused women's shelter. It got to the point I couldn't do it any more as the same women came in over and over. Their helplessness broke my heart. It's far too common, and not just in low income households. Great post.

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    1. Roz, GOD BLESS YOU for the work you did. One of the shelters I went to was in Chandler, Arizona. And you are right. The women go back over and over. I think there is something in our up-bringing or DNA that makes us believe we can FIX men and children. Perhaps it's our nurturing. I don't know. But getting through to so many is very difficult.

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    2. The subject of your post is so, so important. I'm glad there are those of you shedding light on abuse in all it's horrid forms.

      My experience has been the same as Roz, and yours, Catherine, many women go back again and again. It breaks my heart too as they also endanger their children. I've been horrified at what some of these women tolerate and I have great difficulty understanding.

      One time in our small community, a young mother's father removed her and her children from her abusive husband. The father forbid the husband to see her and basically kept his daughter "captive" for over six months because his daughter kept begging to go back to the husband. It was the strangest thing...finally, the young woman "detoxed" I guess. She realized while in the loving home of her father and step-mother that she didn't want to go back. After a year or two she was able to move from her parents home and establish herself in another community. We were all so proud of her and grateful to her parents. But, what happens to other women who do not have such strong, supportive families?

      Sorry to go on and on. Thank you again, all of you, who give hope to abuse victims!!

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    3. Kathryn, your story really hits the problem on the head. Too many times, these women and their children are "addicted" to these toxic relationships. They don't want to get out because they grow to "need" the chaos, the ups and downs, the drama of it all. First is the abuse, then is the "making up" period which for some, is so romantic, the women fool themselves into believing that anyone so "thoughtful" bringing flowers and tearful promises will never "do that again."
      But sadly, they always do.

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    4. Hi, Kathryn,

      I want to get your snail mail and email. You won a prize from me and I want to get it to you! God bless!

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  11. Powerful post. I applaud you for speaking out for these victims. In this day and age were far too many people claim to be advocates, just to claim the title, it's nice to see someone who doesn't just talk the talk. You are my new hero!

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    1. LeAnne, thank you for your graciousness.

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  12. Catherine, domestic abuse is one of the most heartbreaking and difficult situations in the world. It's painful to watch someone you care about go through it. Like Roz mentioned above, trying to help can be so incredibly frustrating. What difficult, incredible, important work you've done and are doing still. If you can reach even one person and encourage them to get help, it makes it all worthwhile. Thank you!

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    1. Carol,
      It has to be the most awful, terrifying thing for a parent to watch their daughter or grandchildren go through beatings and just as bad, the verbal abuse. It is true those scars never leave. Those tapes in the victims' heads play eternally. It takes a lot to break the chain of abuse.

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  13. Thank you for this post, and for your book. For many years, I taught in an economically-challenged area where I saw this kind of thing over and over. I always cheered for the ones who triumphed and showed their children what a strong women is.

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    1. Patricia, I can only imagine the lives you have touched and what you saw. I wonder, sometimes incessantly, what happened to the children of the women who stayed. Are they alive? Abusers? Being abused?

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  14. Catherine, I thank God for people like you and those of you who have worked to help women who need a way out.

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    1. Thank you, Beth. There doesn't seem enough that I can do.

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  15. Hi, Catherine,

    Thank you for this post! This is such an important topic and it's wonderful that you're speaking up. Cate's story is lovely and I'm so pleased I could play a role in its journey. Thank you for shining this light.

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    1. Megan, you were a delight to work with and it is my honor to know you. This was a tough story on many levels and yet the love between Trent and Cate was so real....to me anyway. Thank you for all your help.

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  16. What an inspiring post, Catherine. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you for all that you do for the authors and for our readers, Victoria. It does not go unnoticed.

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  17. You are amazing Catherine. What a wonderful post x

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    1. Thank you for commenting, Eleanor and for reading.

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  18. Such a heartwarming post, Catherine. Thanks for listening to all these stories and making people aware. You are an inspiration.
    Cynthia

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Cynthia and bless you for your awareness.

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  19. Thank you for bringing awareness to such a prevalent issue. I once had a coworker tell me, many years ago, that her boyfriend choked her to unconsciousness. I didn't even know what to say. I couldn't understand how anyone could stay in an abusive relationship. The reality is that many do. I will most certainly share this blog post with anyone who might need it.

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    1. Laurie, Thank you and God bless. What a story...and some women think that being beaten and choked is normal. Is it because they saw their fathers do this to their mothers? Is that it? I found that the answer is "not always." Sometimes, it's insecurity that runs so deep, that they believe this is all they deserve.

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  20. Thanks for the post and all these comments. I give a fair amount of credit to Oprah for bringing the range and extent of abuse out from the darkness and into the light. She started talking about this in the '80s, back when her show was only on the air in Chicago. (Many people talked about this issue, but I think her large audience helped spread information about all forms of abuse.) Awareness keeps building. Back in the 70s, there were very few rape crisis centers (they were considered a novel idea), for example, but by the '90s, I was one of a legion of volunteers at such a center in Asheville, NC. It had four paid staff. I pass the women's shelter here in Green Bay quite often, and it's part of the neighborhood. I've donated some proceeds from one of my books that deals with sexual assault (Amber Light) to this shelter, which does amazing work. I believe women have emerged as strong supporters of each other and have led the way in changing consciousness about abuse in all its ugly forms. A book like yours, Catherine, is another step in helping women take charge of their lives. Congratulations.

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  21. I'm late to comment, but great job with this post, Catherine! I'm so glad you shared such an important issue. Can't wait to read Protecting the Single Mom!

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