Books To Heal and Empower Domestic Violence Survivors (and other resources)
Today’s guest post comes from my friend and an inspiration to women in our community, Angie Kujala. She is a Montana native, proud to call Bozeman her home. She likes to spend time with her husband and daughters doing anything adventurous, most recently focusing on traveling.
Angie has spent nearly 15 years in the Human Resources field. Early in her career Angie entered into a relationship that turned out to be abusive. After leaving her relationship she began volunteering for HAVEN, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing quality service and advocacy for all domestic violence survivors in need.
Angie has been a volunteer with HAVEN for over a decade, and a few years ago joined a speaking group through the organization called End the Silence. She has given many community education sessions and speeches, including for Tedx Bozeman, Girls for a Change Summit, and providing training to the City of Bozeman managers and the Bozeman Police force. Angie and her speaking partner recently started Spark Change to provide domestic violence training and policies to employers.
Who/what supported you most through your process to leave your abusive relationship?
When I realized I was being abused, I was embarrassed. I kept it hidden from everyone as much as I could. As the abuse escalated it became more difficult to hide. My best friend knew it was not a healthy relationship, and she stayed by my side reminding me that I didn’t deserve to be treated that way. I got through it and ended it because of her unwavering support.
Have books/reading played a significant role in your life?
Yes absolutely! I love to get lost in a good book. I fluctuate between reading books that take me to another place and time, to books that help me to improve my life, family and love for myself.
Are there any books you found helpful during and after your experience?
During I was seeing a counselor because he had convinced me I was crazy. She gave me a book called The Emotionally Abused Woman. It changed my course. Reading it made me call the abuse what it was, emotional.
After: Within the last few years (after publicly sharing my story and educating) I’ve grown immensely. I recognize triggers easily and I know how to get through them. I’ve learned I don’t have to be perfect and it’s okay to show the pieces that aren’t (a good book for this is called Present Over Perfect.) I’ve also learned how to communicate more clearly, whether that be to communicate boundaries or to speak out and educate rather than get upset.
Other books I’ve found extremely beneficial in my “after” life are: Thrive by Arianna Huffington, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakihiani, 10% Happier by Dan Harris, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson, and Love Yourself Like Your Life Depended on It by Kamal Ravikant.
What books do you recommend to other DV survivors?
The ones already referenced, and I did ask a group of survivors their thoughts and here are their suggestions!
What is your guidance for someone who believes she/he may be in an abusive relationship?
If someone told me they felt they may be in an abusive relationship I would ask them details about what makes them think they are in an abusive relationship. I think education is key, because there are so many different types of abuse and sometimes women do not see that they’re in an abusive relationship because they are only focused on the physical abuse. I would also say that it helps to share the information with someone that you trust. Because telling another person makes it more real, and then it’s easier to move on with getting help and healing. If it’s too intimidating to tell someone you know, the resources at Haven are definitely confidential and a great start to making a move for help.