A Personal Introduction

So, I’ve now written the first draft of a book proposal and sent it out to a publisher to see what they think. As part of the proposal, I wrote an introduction to the book, which I am sharing with you here. I would love some feedback if it is the sort of book that you might buy, so let me know what you think ok? The introduction has 3 sections:

  • A Personal Introduction
  • Who I am Now and Why I Wrote this Particular Book
  • How to Use this Book

I’m going to publish these 3 sections separately over 3 days, so let me know what you think ok?

close up of book

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Introduction 

 

A Personal Introduction

 

In the first year of living apart from my two children in 2004 I met Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of Refuge, when she was visiting and talking to the residents their women’s refuges where I was living at that time. Us residents had been given a copy of Sandra’s book, Power and Control, which was life-changing for me as I learned that domestic abuse was not quite what I had understood it to be. I told Sandra that I recognised the charming man she wrote of in her book and that, I too, was going to write a book – about how that man turned my children against me. Sandra was very encouraging and told me to let her know when I’d written it. It took me fourteen years and a PhD, to be in a position where I could set out with any clarity the complex and harrowing phenomenon that is mother-child separation via coercive control.

This book isn’t just about my own story because I tell it mainly through those of the women I interviewed during my research. But the book is also informed my own experiences and through the stories of countless other women who I meet and speak to every day via my blog, at conferences, in therapy with mothers apart from their children, and through the wonderful charity, MATCH Mothers.

Back in 2004, a psychologist at the refuge, Roxane Agnew-Davies, diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder. I was in bad shape, emotionally and psychologically. I was managing the powerlessness of my situation with extreme dieting and exercise in the day and self-medicating with alcohol and cigarettes to ease the pain at night. I contemplated suicide. On some days I couldn’t get out of bed and felt that I might, literally, die of the pain. But, somehow, I realised these thoughts and behaviours were only a temporary escape from the intense grief and sorrow I was feeling at being apart from my children. A part of me knew that I needed to survive for my children because my overriding feeling was that they were sure to need me one day. In that refuge, I made up my mind to get well and make something of myself so that they could be proud of me one day. I committed to being the best version of myself that I could be and started on a path of recovery, education and flourishing.

In the end, I was apart from my son for 9 years and my daughter for 12. They were adults when they came back and moved in with me. I wrote this book whilst living under the same roof as them. I never imagined that scenario when I told Sandra Horley of my writing plans in 2004. Life is full of surprises. This book offers hope and guidance to the many women who are threatened with mother-child separation and to those who dread they may never see their children again.

About Dr Laura Monk

I am a researcher and counselling tutor based at University of Nottingham. My doctoral research investigated how to improve professionals' responses to mothers who become separated from their children. I developed a training workshop for the professionals who mothers come into contact with - largely at the intersection of health and social care, the family courts and domestic abuse services. I am also a counsellor and psychotherapist and offer feminist therapy for survivors of domestic abuse - especially coercive control. I am a Women's Aid domestic violence prevention advocate.
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4 Responses to A Personal Introduction

  1. aitchtaylor says:

    Tried to leave this comment but couldn’t!

    Hi Laura, We met when we were both speakers at the 1st conference on coercive control. I admired you then, and am inspired by you now. That you never gave up hope, and endeavoured to help other mothers all while still apart from your own children is incredible. I can’t wait to read your book. I hope other women who find themselves in your position read it. I intend to use it to help guide women who ask me for advice too!

    Like

    • How lovely to hear from you 🙂 🙂 and thank you for your comment – I think it’s just that I have to approve them first 😉
      It’s so good to read your feedback and know that my work can be of support to others, which is my prime motivation for writing this book.
      All best wishes and stay in touch x

      Like

  2. Shonagh Mc Aulay says:

    I think this is an introduction that will make people want to read more. Definitely everyone in that situation but others too. I would get the book. Publishers may be keen on your enormous personal achievement and the happy twist of your children’s return

    I’m very happy that your children returned.

    My older boy did, differently. He was not taken by a court but deeply involved in abuse. My happy expectations and hopes when he returned were not met. I was unrealistic and read into his return intentions and insights which were unreasonable. He did not really get to know us or want to know us as who we are. He is no longer an abuser, however.

    I see him as quite mentally and emotionally damaged in some ways and I’m sad that I was unable to protect him from powerful evil influences. I did my best always to protect and guide and never stopped loving and forgiving him. My best was not good enough.

    Wishing you luck and success with publishers. Your work deserves that. There’s a need for these wrongs to be narrated and examined.

    Shonagh

    Like

    • Hi Shonagh
      Thank you so much for your feedback on this start to my book – it’s very encouraging 🙂
      Thank you too for sharing some of your own story. What you write about resonates with me and I understand the kind of damage you speak of, which I appreciate goes deep to the core. I have great faith in post-traumatic growth though and believe in Nietzsche’s maxim, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
      You make a very good point about expectations and I want to include this in my book for parents with returning children – usually adult children. There is bound to be a great deal of trauma to deal with and this can bring unexpected difficulties and anguish. But, as mothers, we have to just keep on doing our very best and that is always good enough, Shonagh. We can’t expect miracles though – the damage is done. It is important that we don’t take responsibility for the damage caused by others but do what we can to mitigate it by offering unconditional love, ongoing support and a safe and healthy environment. I have also been a great believer in carrying the hope for my children and I think that goes a long way.
      Warm wishes, Laura

      Like

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