When Love Goes Wrong

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

It is difficult for an outsider to imagine the everyday horror in the life of an abused woman. It is even harder to understand why she would remain in an abusive relationship. Yet abusive relationships are relatively common, and psychologists have just begun to understand their dynamics.

Susan Schechter is a social worker who works with abused women, and Ann Jones wrote a history of the battered women’s movement. They seem to understand the internal logic of women in abusive relationships. They show how a controlling man will do things to confuse his partner, and make her think that their problems are her fault. Schechter and Jones cut right to the point: abuse is the fault of the abuser, not the abused.

The abused woman has no power to change the behavior of her abuser or to mend her relationship. The only effective action she can take is to protect herself and her children.

The somber and difficult message is backed up by personal stories scattered throughout the book. Schechter and Jones offer questionnaires designed to help a woman decide if she is in an abusive relationship. They offer encouragement and advice, and describe the resources that are available to women who want to escape an abusive home. They also counsel those who are trying to assist battered women, who sometimes seem to resist the help that is offered to them.

The mindset of a battered woman has been compared to that of a kidnapped hostage. She will do anything to appease her captor so that he will not hurt her. WHEN LOVE GOES WRONG is her reality check, and will give her a chance to free herself from captivity at last.