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May 16, 2015

The other day, I discussed my suspense novel, The Outreach Committee, Because Marriage Can Be Murder, with a book club composed of fourteen middle-class women.

My book discusses the moral issues of spousal abuse and asks the question, “Is murder ever justified?” To start the discussion, I quoted the oft repeated statistic that one in three women will be abused in her lifetime. Then I asked how many of the members knew a woman who had been abused.

Because abused women are hesitant to talk about their struggles, I expected a smattering of affirmative answers. Thirteen of the fourteen women in attendance raised their hands.

I was both saddened and surprised by their response. Saddened because so many women in this small group, or people they knew, had been touched by abuse. Surprised that so many women had let it be known to someone that they had been abused.

Too many abused women feel that they will be hurt further or their lives endangered if they publicize that they are being abused. They may be right. Their abusers convince them that it is their fault that the abuse happens in the first place. Abused women are often convinced by their abusers that they are worthless to the outside world and the women feel forced to stay in the abusive relationship for financial reasons.

We discussed and welcomed the new attention given by women, and men, in our society to domestic violence and the media’s willingness to discuss it. Famous athletes who abuse their wives and friends, have helped to bring public attention to this blemish.

We cheered on the men who participated in a charity walk—in high heels—to bring in funds for women’s shelters. We found it interesting that two men in my writers’ critique group of twelve members chose to write novels about women who escaped from domestic violence and survived.

Also in our book club discussion, we talked about the many ways that we could help sheltered women, the ones who have survived abuse and broken free, and who are setting out on their own in a new life, We can find them jobs, train them in new skills, in handling their finances, and provide furnished places to live.

We were unable to find a way to help those women whose abuse is accepted, and even expected, by their cultures. Those women whose own families would send them back to their abusers to save their families’ reputation. There is much work to be done there.

Have you and your book club discussed an interesting book by or about women who have survived and broken free from an abusive relationship? My readers and I would like to hear about it. Please reply to this post or email me

If you’d like to read reviews of The Outreach Committee, please check the following links: and


C.L. Woodhams, author

The Outreach Committee and Sweet Justice

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