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In depth reader reviews are coming in for my newly published book, The Outreach Committee: Because Marriage Can Be Murder.*

Alan, who volunteers for a domestic violence hotline, is concerned that the book addresses only the abuse of women. On the hotline he has talked to men who are abused by their wives or girlfriends.

When I started this blog, I received similar comments. While I recognize that men are abused by their spouses, I chose to concentrate on violence against women. It is more prevalent, and because of their relative physical sizes, women often receive more serious injuries.

And, in many cultures it is expected, and accepted that men have the right to “discipline” their wives. The opposite “right” is not given to women.

Alan also said, “I don’t know any abusive men.” Alan, I hope this is true. But let me tell you about a fact echoed by many of the women I interviewed while I was writing The Outreach Committee. Abusive men are very social and well liked by the people in their community outside of the home.

When these men court their wives they are charming, caring, and gift giving. As the door closes on their honeymoon, the bridegroom’s need to control takes over. In one instance, he tore up all of the men’s business cards in his successful wife’s sales contact file. In another he culled “suggestive” items from his wife’s closet, and threw them away.

My heart hurts for the new brides who are abused. They didn’t have a clue before marriage that their husbands were abusers. Now they are faced with ending their marriages or putting up with controlling and abusive men for the rest of their lives.

Did you have an abusive shock when your honeymoon ended? My readers and I would like to hear about it. And about how you resolved the situation. Please comment on this post by replying to it or by email to me at


CL. Woodhams, author

The Outreach Committee and Sweet Justice.

*Available in print from and In electronic format it’s available on Kindle and many other e readers.


We’ve talked about how a woman can tell if the man she’s dating is a potential abuser.  We haven’t talked as much about how to identify an abused woman so that we can offer help.

You have a good friend who is worrying you:

  • She used to be the life of a party, always suggesting new things to do: go to the beach or a concert, hike the trails in the nearby mountains. make a party.
  • She refuses invitations, saying her husband wants to spend more time with her alone.
  • She changed her dress style, wearing clothes that are more like your mother would wear, with high necklines and long sleeves. She says her husband chose the clothes when he shopped with her.
  • You talk to her mother who practically raised you with your friend and hear that the husband doesn’t like big crowds, especially family gatherings.
  • She’s moving around like she’s an old woman with arthritis.
  • She can’t seem to make a decision without consulting her husband.
  • Sha has a good job and makes a good salary, but she has to borrow lunch money from you.
  • She doesn’t laugh as much.
  • She’s spending more time at work and doing less.
  • You ask her what’s wrong and she starts to talk and then stops and shakes her head.
  • When her husband is around, she agrees with everything he says in discussions, even when she is more knowledgeable than he is about the subject.
  • She tells you that her husband dislikes her family, then admits that he doesn’t like her friends all that much either.
  • She stops attending parties, even the girls-only ones.
  • She laughs off dark bruises on her wrists, saying she’s just clumsy, been cleaning closets, fell on the stairs, tripped on a rug, etc.
  • When you are with her, her husband calls her constantly, wanting to k now what she is doing and when she is coming home.

Should you be concerned? Maybe. The changes in your friend could be caused by a normal evolution of friendship. Or, your friend may have changed because she married a man who is compelled to maintain complete control at home, even if he has to abuse his wife to do so.  The outwardly charming man she married may have turned her marriage into a nightmare.

Take her aside. Ask her in private what is going on. Tell her you’ve noticed changes in her. Talk about her husband. Look for signs of his attempting to exercise complete control of her life. Look for signs of emotional, financial or physical abuse. Offer help.

If your friend denies that she is being abused or appears afraid of her husband, and you are convinced he is hurting her, you must prepare to help her in the future. Research the location of shelters for abused women in your area. Check on her frequently. Give her advice about assembling copies of family papers for an emergency. Then you will be able to jump in and help her when she breaks free.

Have you helped a friend break free from an abusive relationship? If so, my readers and I would like to hear about your experience, and hers. Please reply to this post or email me at


C. L. Woodhams, author, The Outreach Committee and Sweet Justice


In the January 6, 2015 San Diego Union Tribune’s Dear Abby column, Abby answers a reader’s question about her relationship with a list of the warning signs of an abusive man. If you have questions about the potential of a man in your life to become an abuser, you must read this column headlined “Moody new husband shows signs of an abuser.”

If you do not have access to a newspaper, you can contact Abby at or write her at P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles CA, 90069, USA.


C. L. Woodhams, author of The Outreach Committee


Although we regret the need, still, for support to abused women, I am pleased to say that the newest and fastest growing support group for our cause against relationship violence is the media.

It started with their showing the videos of an NFL player’s elevator treatment of his then fiancée, now wife.  TV land took on one of its big cash cows and ran the story over and over. I’ll not go into their motive; we’re grateful for their bringing attention to our cause. Nor will I go into the reaction of the team’s upper management. This is about new spotlights on the evil of spousal abuse.

It encouraged me to see the “talking heads” on the morning and evening newscasts blink back tears when they reported what was done to the woman involved. Not a one asked what the woman did to deserve it, as I have heard from men in the past.

Recently, Tameron Hall of the Today Show made a presentation about her beloved sister’s fatal encounter with an abuser. Now women talk publically about being drugged and abused by a comedian who had the power to draw large audiences around the world. They do this even though the statutes of limitation are long past. I heard one newscaster remark that the “industry” had known about the comedian’s actions for a long time. The media didn’t dare bring the subject up back then, but they are willing to address it now. Progress is slow, but welcome.

A psychologist linked the comedian’s actions to the actor’s need for power and control. The comedian is not accused of spousal abuse. His wife calls him an ideal husband and father.  However, my readers understand that the need for control is behind the abuse of a woman.

What would be the media coverage of O. J. Simpson today? Would it include more than his trial and his football career? I like to think that it would also cover and chastise him for his domestic violence.

Each weekday afternoon, Dr. Phil addresses emotional topics and offers help to victims. His subjects often are abused women. It is hard to listen to their stories, but he does, and then provides them venues to assist in their recovery. His wife, Robin, is active in obtaining help for abused women through her foundation, “When Georgia Smiles” She also encourages men’s groups to discuss domestic violence and to offer help to those who shelter victims.

When I told women that I had started writing a suspense novel about domestic violence (The Outreach Committee, by C.L. Woodhams), several women admitted to me that they had suffered spousal abuse. Some were still experiencing it. Now, we hear women talking about the comedian’s many exploits and confessing that they had been duped and drugged in the same way by other men. It’s not that they are going to bring a lawsuit; it’s that they are relieved to be able to talk about the horrible experience without hurting themselves. I like to believe that these women coming forth reflect change in our culture. Women are becoming stronger and demanding their own place in society. They are showing their true selves, not just the persons that the men in their lives want them to be.

In my opinion, intimate and sexual activity among loving partners should be private. However I welcome with open mind and heart the media’s bringing our attention to relationship violence.

Have you, or someone in your life recently admitted that they were abused by a spouse or partner? Did they find support from men and women when they did so? How did you help them? My readers and I would like to hear about your experience. Please email me at or reply to this post.


C.L. Woodhams, author

The Outreach Committee. and Sweet Justice (Available from or Amazon.eur.)


Abused women often dread the holidays, because abusive men need to exercise to exercise control especially in unusual situations, including holidays. These women find little joy in the winter holidays. Not only are they expected to entertain his family while ignoring their own, they must continue to keep the house presentable while entertaining the children who are out of school. Adding to the turmoil, their spouses are often on holiday from work and quite willing to criticize everything they do.

Here’s how an abused woman should prepare for any holiday:

First find the phone numbers for the abuse hotlines that serve your area. It’ll list a few national (USA)  that will help you get started. If you have secure access to a computer, perhaps one at work, you can Google “abuse hotlines” or “domestic violence hotlines” and many sights will pop up. Remember, if your abusing spouse is familiar with computers, he can follow your activity even if you delete all you have found.

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233. Their web site has many excellent suggestions for maintaining your safety while he’s still in the home as well suggestions on what to take with you when you leave.
  • Crisis Hotline 1-877-541-2525. Personnel at this site will discuss your options with you and plans for your break. They do not refer you to specific shelters.
  • Feminist Majority Foundation 1-800-656-4673 can give you hotline phone numbers for your state.
  • Abuse hotlines by state may also be obtained at 1-800-650-6522’

Second be sure your hidden escape bundle contains money, clothes, toys, financial and family history papers and photos, cell phones, phone numbers, and medicines.

Third, if your life is in danger and you can’t do the above, just grab the children and run.

If you are or were in an abusive relationship, how do or did you handle holidays? My readers and I would like to hear about your experience. Please email me at or reply to his post.


C.L. Woodhams, author

The Outreach Committee and Sweet Justice


 The Outreach Committee, is a whimsical and entertaining suspense novel about spousal abuse. Don’t try the committee’s methods at home!

During the time it took me to write the Outreach Committee, I became more and more concerned with the plight of abused women. I wanted to help them. That’s why I started this blog. And why it will continue.

I compare an abuser to water in a river. Initially, we admire the easy flow, enjoy swimming in its pools and fishing from its banks. Then, when we boat on the river, we discover its rough flow over treacherous rocks, forming dangerous rapids. Still, we steer around the rapids and continue our journey.

Our river constantly pressures the dam that forms the swimming hole. We see a few drops come through on the other side. Soon the water forms a bigger hole. It may take some time, but the water’s demand for control destroys the leaking dam and the families and homes below it.

My goal in writing The Outreach Committee was to bring attention to the world-wide plague of spousal abuse, and to inspire changes in how women are treated. It is available now, in print form, from Amazon. The eBook version will follow.


C. L, Woodhams, author

The Outreach Committee and Sweet Justice



In Erinn Hutkin’s 9/29/14 San Diego’s UT article, George Pratt PhD*, clinical psychologist and marriage and family counselor with Scripps Health, tells us that an unhealthy relationship not only hurts psychologically but physically as well. The hurt may last, long after the relationship ends.

Spousal abuse is not always physical. It can be verbal, emotional or financial. The woman abused in these ways who is considering breaking free should be aware of Mr. Pratt’s observations.

Toxic relationships damage the body by disturbing sleep, adding stress, and increasing the risk of heart disease. These stresses add to those already brought on by abuse. They cause internal negativity, negative inner self talk, self doubt, and poor judgments. The negativity drives away calmness, happiness, joy and clarity of thinking.

If you are just getting to know a man, you might not recognize the symptoms of a toxic or future- abusive relationship. If you feel dread when you see his car in the driveway, uneasy after being with him in social situations but don’t know why or leave a date with him feeling uneasy, fearful, angry or frustrated you may be sensing toxicity. The toxic or future-abusive person has no empathy and blames you for your feelings.

Being in a constant state of alarm and unable to relax combined with interrupted sleep, anxiety and depression can:
• Destroy your immune system,
• Raise your blood sugar readings and cause diabetes
• Increase your blood pressure,
• Lower your good cholesterol.
• Affect your job performance and your other responsibilities.
• Harm your children.

Even after a toxic relationship ends, you may harm yourself unwittingly by overeating, over medicating or not exercising enough. It is important to surround yourself with positive, helpful, cheerful people who will bring you a sense of peace and fun.

You may feel that you can tough it out in a toxic relationship. But the evidence is clear that you will continue to harm yourself if you do.

Dr. Pratt gives advice on avoiding toxic relationships.
• Pay attention to how you feel with your date or significant other. If he makes you feel stiff, criticized, and judged, your relationship may be toxic.
• If you can’t be yourself, have your opinions considered, and your goals recognized as important, toxicity may harm you.
• If your gut tells you that your partner always needs to control your relationship, trust your feelings and move on.
• If you can’t be honest when you consider your relationship or discuss it with others, you may be in a toxic one.
• If you have been neglecting yourself because of a relationship, it’s time to break free.

What’s your experience in recognizing a toxic relationship in your life or someone else’s? What did you do about it? My readers and I would like to hear about your experience. Please reply to this post or e mail me at’

C. L. Woodhams, author
The Outreach Committee and Sweet Justice.

*Dr. Ann Clark, Dr. Steve Albrecht, and Jessica Jafta were also quoted in Hutkin’s article..


I’ve learned something new about my adopted city, San Diego, CA. They are thinking forward on the subject of spousal abuse. The Police Department’s Domestic Violence Unit is located in the multi-cultural San Diego Family Justice Center.

The Center was designed to be a one-stop location for abused women and their children. The SDPD’s Domestic Violence Unit has direct connections to its community partners: Center for Community Solutions, Rady’s Children’s Hospital-Chadwick Center, The San Diego Volunteer Lawyers, the San Diego City Attorney’s office, the San Diego District Attorney’s office, and the City Victim Witness Programs.

The Center provides a counseling room with computers that translate many of the world’s languages into English, and English back into the client’s native language, so the abuse victim and her counselor can communicate with each other. There’s a playroom for the children, and Police Detectives, looking for the abuser have offices there.

Abuse victims can work with a family counselor for emotional support. They can consult a lawyer and file restraining orders, start divorce proceedings, and pursue other options, all from this location.

In the spirit of looking ahead, a computer training facility makes it possible for the women to  train to become skilled in industry. When they leave, they’ll be able to make a living for themselves and their children. It is all-important that they avoid the dilemma of having to go back to their abusers for financial reasons.

I wish there were no need for this center in our city or in any other. Unfortunately, that is not our current reality. In fact, domestic violence seems to be escalating. Or has it always existed at the current level and we are more aware of it because our news media has taken up the cause? I hope the latter is true, but I fear the need for our modern Family Justice Center will continue for many years.

San Diego is a big city with many resources and the funds to operate the Family Justice Center. But small cities and towns can use this approach to helping the abused women in their communities. One room can serve as a meeting place where representatives of all of the community’s resources meet with the abused. The battered women do not have to criss-cross the town to receive services. The services come to them.

A brief description of San Diego’s Domestic Violence Unit on the police department’s website ends with “Don’t be afraid to hold the abuser accountable.” Good advice for all of us.

Does your city have a central location where abuse victims receive help.? My readers and I would like to hear about it. Please reply to this post or email me at


,C.L. Woodhams, author

The Outreach Committee and Sweet Justice


When I initiated this blog, I explained that it would address only the abuse of women by their partners. Although I recognized that women do abuse their spouses, my immediate concern was with the women.

Last week I witnessed an interesting experiment on the Today Show. A troupe of actors went out on the street and portrayed two scenes. In the first skit, a man appeared to physically abuse a woman. In the second, a woman pretended to abuse a man. The public’s disparate reactions to each were intriguing.

When the woman was attacked, many people rushed to help pull the man away from her. The rescuers included one woman who leaped over a cluster of low bushes to get to the victim.

However, when the woman attacked the man, the response was quite different. Some spectators even cheered her on. When interviewed afterwards, the observers said they figured the man could defend himself because of the difference in body strength between the two.

I once saw a young woman physically abusing her husband. We were in the college library where he had been studying while she attended class. What had brought on her anger? He did not meet her at the appointed time and she had been looking all over campus for him. He finally wrestled her weapon, her book bag, away from her and turned to go. She followed, breaking into her native language. My reaction? I just stood there with my mouth open, engaging in a favorite pastime, people watching. I excused her behavior, thinking that she was probably acting out her fear that something had happened to him. I did not think of interfering.  Her actions made such an impression that I still can see the scene, many years later. Would my reaction have been different if he had been abusing her? Yes, now. Then, I don’t know.

Of course, all physical abuse, male to female or female to male, in a relationship is wrong. It’s a sad fact though, that many more women are abused than men. There are those who still think that a man may discipline his wife however he wishes. She’s his chattel.

What are your thoughts on this issue? My readers and I would like to hear them. Please reply to this post or email me at


  1. L. Woodhams, author

The Outreach Committee and Sweet Justice


It’s a fact: Abused women stay with their abusers, or go back to them, because they need financial support. I’ve mentioned the financial abuse of a woman in this blog several times, but we’ve not discussed it in depth. The testimony in a recent court case came to my attention and reminded me that we need to discuss this.

Seldom, does an abuser employ financial abuse alone. It is often accompanied by emotional and physical abuse. As is usual in most abusive actions, financial restrictions start small and increase.

He may insist that he control the bank account since he has more knowledge than she does about finances. Then he insists on controlling their investments. He dictates where they will live, what they will spend on clothes and entertainment. He does not give her access to their accounts. (Remember, spousal abuse is all about control.)

In the court case I mentioned, he required that she continue to contribute exactly half of their high mortgage payment, even though she had lost her job. When she had exhausted her savings, he took away her access to their checking account, and gave her less than seven hundred dollars a month to run the household for a family of five.

Many abused women are working to help with the household finances. The abuser forces her to turn over her paycheck to him and may even go to her employer to pick it up for her. He controls all expenditures.

Financial emergencies are blamed on her although she has no access to the family accounts. In the recent recession, there were probably many times when a controller needed to vent his frustration about money.

A woman breaking free needs to accumulate some emergency cash for immediate needs after she escapes. Ideally, an abused woman should take a job where she is paid in cash so that she can hide a little each week in her breaking free stash. Again, it is not unheard of that the abuser would meet her at her job and collect her pay from her.

Have you been abused financially? How did you handle it? Were you able to stash money away for your break? If so, my readers and I would appreciate hearing about it. Please reply or comment on this post or email me at


C. L. Woodhams, author

The Outreach Committee and Sweet Justice