Review: Escaping Emotional Abuse by Beverly Engel, LMFT

Beverly Engel has written a plethora of books, mostly about anger and abuse. This book focuses mostly on shame, which she says is the root of all emotional abuse. First the abuser has shame and takes that out on others in the form of abuse, and then the victim is consistently shamed until that is their primary emotion as well. Engel sets out in this book to give a shamed victim some tools to identify their shame and determine what they should do about the relationship.

Engel begins by helping the reader identify whether, in fact, they are in an emotionally abusive relationship, and if so, how shame interfaces with that. She gives the reader some specific tools to stop believing what the abuser is saying, use anger productively, and start to begin offering yourself self-compassion and self-kindness.

Engel then moves on to determining whether you should stay or go. This depends on several factors, the first being whether or not you think you can safely confront your partner. If so, she offers specific suggestions on how to do that. She also outlines what makes abuse intentional vs. unintentional, and how to determine whether or not your partner has a personality disorder that would make change difficult.

I love that she confronts how you might feel if you do leave, that you will probably be tempted to go back. And she offers some really good guidelines and exercises to do so that you can get some perspective on whether or not that is just loneliness or emotion, or whether it really is a good idea to return. Throughout, she offers no judgment whatsoever if you decide you want to stay or go.

Having never been in an abusive relationship, I can’t tell you with 100% accuracy if this book would be soundly helpful. But I would certainly offer it to a client in this situation, or do the exercises together. Like all self-help books, this one will work best if you take it slow and actually do each exercise with a lot of thoughtfulness.

I received this book free from Kensington Publishing for my review, and it will be on sale January 1, 2021.

Disclaimer: The link above is an Amazon affiliate link and I receive a small compensation from orders placed with this link. Summaries are NOT intended to replace the purchase of the book, but simply to save you time reading.