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New Book Teaches How to Escape Abuse and Choose Healthy Relationships
Jenni Viken’s new book Choosing Healthy Relationships explores an area many women struggle with. Most people aren’t given much guidance on how to find their significant other in life, and that choice is even more difficult if you come from an abusive home or have generations of abuse in your family. Children learn what their parents model for them, and if someone doesn’t model how to find a healthy partner or deal with relationship problems, a dysfunctional relationship will usually result, and often, it’s characterized by abuse—physical. Can be done, mental, and verbal.
Jenny Wicken understands that. He went there. She spent eighteen years, sixteen of them married, in an abusive relationship. In this book, she tells her story of how she met the husband who would become her abuser. She speaks honestly about her own unwitting role in abuse, and she shares how she found the courage to protect her children and get them out of that situation. But the book is more than just Jenny’s story. She uses her experiences as a way for the reader to explore the hard truths about relationships and make better choices for their own relationships.
Part of the problem, as Jenny points out from the start, is that we’re taught as children that the goal is to one day fall in love and get married, and we’re fed fairy-tale versions of marriage, but we’re not what to do if the one we choose isn’t Prince Charming. It has been taught. Worse, we are not taught enough about how to build our own self-esteem and self-worth so as not to attract the wrong partner.
Although abuse is not acceptable in any form, Jenny is honest about her own role in the abuse. He didn’t go out and look for it, but he had personal qualities that told his abuser that abuse was acceptable. Her desire for self-worth and validation leads her into relationships with toxic people. He becomes a “people pleaser” and constantly tries to fix others when he needs to learn to fix himself first. She says honestly, “I picked one broken boy after another. I was after ‘bad boys’. If a boy was nice, respectful and healthy, I thought there was something wrong with him, so I tried to ruin the relationship and break it off.” Will do anything to get laid. It’s clear to me now that I don’t think I’m worthy of healthy attention. Or love.”
I won’t go into all of Jenny’s story, but the abuse she experienced ranged from the silent treatment and walking on eggshells to physical abuse, manipulation and threats until she finally got the courage to leave.
Jenny doesn’t want other women to experience this situation. She tells her story to share the warning signs you may be in a relationship with an abuser The most eye-opening is that her abuser was a narcissist- most. He discusses how narcissists try to control others to maintain their power and self-worth. Unfortunately, Jenny thought her husband’s crazy behavior and mistreatment were normal in a relationship. Only when she understood about narcissism did she truly understand how dysfunctional her life was and that she could not change her husband – she was unable to change. Then he decided to leave.
In the book, Jenny discusses how to create a safety plan for leaving an abusive relationship. He examines all the reasons (aka excuses) for women not to go. The most eye-opening will be for women who have children. She bluntly, yet sympathetically, explains that this is an excuse born out of fear, and she discusses the deep emotional scars on children in abusive homes, so the sooner you and your children get out, the better.
After leaving, healing must begin, so Jenny takes the reader through how she healed. She shares how she set boundaries with her ex-husband and, ultimately, how she came to forgive him. Perhaps more importantly, she learned to forgive herself for letting her children down by allowing them to live in an abusive environment for so long. In the end, she came to accept that both she and her husband had done the best they could with what was modeled for them, but while she was unable to change, she has now turned her life around, even finding a new and healthy marriage.
Finally, Jenny reveals the secret ingredients of a healthy relationship. He said, “I believe that we can all love and be loved in this world. Love is open communication, mutual respect, forgiveness, mercy, kindness and patience.” He discusses how to communicate love and the different ways people express love. He reveals how a healthy relationship requires setting healthy boundaries, communicating and sharing well, and not compromising your core values. Through practice, he helps the reader explore these areas to gain a better understanding of their importance and how to develop them in relationships.
I applaud Jenny Viken for her courage in sharing this story. We are all passive in some way, and we can all do better. This book gives us hope, and more importantly, practical steps to take so that we can find the peace and happiness in our relationships that we have always wanted.
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