Look What You Made Me Do
Not all abuse leaves a mark.
For more than two years, BBC Radio 4’s The Archers ran a disturbing storyline centred on Helen Titchener’s abuse at the hands of her husband Rob. Not the kind of abuse that leaves a bruise, but the sort of coercive control that breaks your spirit and makes it almost impossible to walk away. As she listened to the unfolding story, Helen Walmsley-Johnson was forced to confront her own agonizing past.
Helen’s first husband controlled her life, from the people she saw to what was in her bank account. He alienated her from friends and family and even from their three daughters. Eventually, he threw her out and she painfully began to rebuild her life.
Then, divorced and in her early forties, she met Franc. Kind, charming, considerate Franc. For ten years she would be in his thrall, even when he too was telling her what to wear, what to eat, even what to think.
Look What You Made Me Do is her candid and utterly gripping memoir of how she was trapped by a smiling abuser, not once but twice. It is a vital guide to recognizing, understanding and surviving this sinister form of abuse and its often terrible legacy. It is also an inspirational account of how one woman found the courage to walk away.
'Powerful' Jane Garvey, Woman's Hour
'Compelling' Suzanne Moore
Compelling ... A hard book to read, harder I imagine to have written. But absolutely necessary if you want to understand coercive control. Read it.
Suzanne Moore, Guardian
Coercive control may have recently been made illegal in Britain, but not many women dare to open up about it. Helen Walmsley-Johson is an exception.
At first, Helen Walmsley-Johnson was so desperate to please her boyfriend Franc that she overlooked his exacting standards, his overbearing interest in what she wore and who she saw. But before long, her every move was controlled by the man who claimed to love her. The scariest part? How easily such behaviour – and worse – became her new normal.