Bonded to the Abuser, by Amy J. L. Baker & Mel Schneiderman, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland, ISBN: 978-1-4422-3690-5 (Cloth)/978-1-4422-3688-2 (eBook), 2015, 163 pages, $34.00 (Cloth)/$33.99 (eBook).
Bonded to the Abuser offers a powerful glimpse into the lived experiences of adults who were victims of various forms of maltreatment during childhood. These various forms of maltreatment include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, emotional neglect, and physical neglect. Each of the adults provided riveting discussions that detailed a bond with and love for caregivers who inflicted pain and hurt during times of vulnerability. The authors were very effective in capturing the experiences as memoirs that can be used as modalities for training future social work practitioners who will work with children who have been abused and neglected. These modalities provide strategies for assessment and treatment, as well as emphasis on the importance of evaluating the success of a recommended intervention. A running thread throughout the chapters highlights the fact that, although the adults experienced treacherous abuse as children, there was still a desire for love and connection to their abusers.
In addition, the authors included quotes from victims, as well as reflective rationale, which make reading this book and understanding the concepts very easy to a layperson. This book touches on the abuse of power and manipulative behaviors by parents toward their children, while also providing a glimpse into the mental health challenges that are experienced by caregivers, ultimately contributing to their infliction of abusive parenting styles. Further, Bonded to the Abuser is effective in providing actual “stories” and “making meanings” of said stories, which allows readers to gain deeper insight into the lived experience of maltreatment victims.
In short, this book will be a useful resource to social workers, social work students, and social work educators because of the use of evidence-based practice and research, which supports the use of rating scales and other forms of assessments when understanding and addressing child maltreatment. Clients of social workers will also reap benefits from using this book, because it provides relatable memoirs and experiences. The authors conclude the book with an emphasis on “storytelling.”
This book is based on the phenomenon of healing from abuse and trauma that many evidence-based interventions refer to as, “trauma narrative.” The authors provide several intended benefits of utilizing storytelling/trauma narrative, with a profound one including the development of self-empathy and active voice for abuse victims who are often devoid of personal feelings after experiencing hurt and being shunned to silence as a result of maltreatment.
Reviewed by Yarneccia D. Dyson, Ph.D., MSW, Assistant Professor of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.