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Book review: Out of Control – couples, conflict and the capacity for change

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Out of Control – Couples, Conflict and the Capacity for Change

Natalie Collins

SPCK Publications (2019) £12.99

Domestic Violence is a hidden scourge of our society, devastating for those who suffer it and for those closest to them. The bare statistics are frightening enough if you allow them to sink in: nearly one in three women (and, extraordinarily) nearly one in six men will in this country find themselves abused by a spouse or other partner at some time in their lives. Mostly this will be physical violence on a regular basis, but it will also embrace verbal and emotional abuse.

That means that well over half of the population will have direct experience of domestic abuse, whether as a victim or as a perpetrator.

More widely, the effects on our society are profound, starting of course with the children, but spreading out to the wider circle of family and friends even if the abuse is kept below the surface and left just as a suspicion. Then there is the impact on both the justice system (the courts, the police, the prison and the probation services) and the caring professions in terms of counselling and adoption services.

It is a subject that no-one in polite society wants to talk about. And yet it is very present and very real.

Natalie Collins is both a victim and a survivor, a deeply committed professional and activist who is determined to see an end to this dreadful reality. In her wide-ranging 300-page book, she pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. She is courageously open about her own experiences and graphically descriptive of the various types of abuser and what makes them act as they do. But there are no excuses. Importantly, however, as the sub-title of her final chapter affirms, ‘there is hope’.

This is a book written from an unashamedly Christian perspective. While it certainly needs to be read by all Christian leaders and pastors, this book really should be read by everybody, because somehow the horror touches us all.

Available from local Christian bookshops and online sellers.