Friday, May 13, 2016

What practical steps can each of us take to help stop domestic violence?

My Interview with Book Lovers Haven where I am the featured author for May 2016

Christians and Domestic Violence


Meet Jocelyn Andersen:Jocelyn is a Christian, a mother, a public speaker and the former wife of a pastor who committed domestic violence against her. She is the author of the books "Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence" and "Woman this is WAR! Gender, Slavery and the Evangelical Caste System". Jocelyn has appeared on television and radio programs such as The Arthelene Rippy Show, Mainstream Baptist, Free Me Now, WMUZ and WWJC. Please check Jocelyn out online at http://www.jocelynandersen.com.

BLH:  You've authored two books, "Woman Submit! Christians& Domestic Violence" and "Woman this is WAR! Gender, Slavery and the Evangelical Caste System". Have you always known that you would write a book? 

JA:    I have always loved writing, and I have always loved books-both fiction and non-fiction. In school, I loved dissecting sentences in English class, and for many years I kept a journal. As a teenager, I wrote volumes of prose and some poetry. As a musician, I have written 50+ songs. It has always felt natural to me to express myself in writing, but I felt I would write romantic suspense novels (and I do have an inspirational fiction work in progress) rather than non-fiction.

BLH:   Please give Book Lover's Haven members a brief (three to four sentences) synopsis of   "Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence". 

JA:    Woman Submit is about saving lives. It is for the battered woman herself and also for the family and friends she is likely to turn to for help. The book is written for the Christian reader but non-Christians have written to tell me how helpful they found the book to be. It offers practical advice and some difficult challenges for the woman who is experiencing abuse and gives firsthand insight into the terrible dynamics of being trapped in an abusive relationship along with how I was able to get out-not just from the situation itself, but total freedom from accepting abuse against my person in any form.

BLH:  In "Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence," you address an incredibly important topic, one that occurs every nine seconds in America despite the fact that many people turn away from and work to hide domestic violence. A few years ago, abuse occurred every 17 seconds, so it has worsened. How can believing that women should submit or obey their husband lead to the "acceptance" of abuse? 

JA:    Studies have shown that passive behavior (submission) towards an abusive husband does not satisfy the need for power and control on the part of the abuser. It feeds the need rather than satisfies it and actually causes the abusive behavior to increase.

Therefore, preaching that encourages men to rule in their families (no matter how nice the words it is couched in) encourages abuse. Period. The jury has been in on that one for quite some time. Christian psychologist and family counselor, Barrington H. Brennan, has said that strong religious beliefs combined with strongly held views on male leadership and female submission is a deadly formula for violence (http://www.soencouragement.org/deadlyformula.htm).
BLH:  What practical steps can each of us take to help stop domestic violence?

· First and foremost, consider the life and safety of the victim. The batterer is not the one whose life is in imminent danger. The batterers certainly need help but rarely sincerely seek change for their criminal behavior. Take the victims seriously, realize their lives and safety are indeed at risk, and do what you can to help by familiarizing yourselves with resources in your area (victims advocates, shelters, etc..).

· The National Domestic Violence Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day by trained counselors who can provide crisis assistance and information about shelters, legal advocacy, health care centers, and counseling. 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Save this number to your phone. It is in mine. Do it right now, before you read another word.

· Physical violence against anyone is a crime. It is not less of a crime just because it happens to be a husband beating a wife. Assault and battery is not less dangerous because it takes place within a domestic family setting. Encourage the victim to protect herself (and her children) and to avail herself of the protection offered through legal channels. Telling a wife she needs to protect her violent husband from the legal consequences of his crime is criminal in and of itself.

·  If a pastor supports God given absolute equality of the sexes, he needs to say so-and often-as it is the need for power, control, and domination that is at the very root of domestic violence. And far too many men are hearing from the pulpit that their place in the home is to rule over their wives and families. Remaining silent on the subject is not neutral. If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem. There are many physically abusive Christian husbands who go to church every Sunday. They need to hear their pastors, church leadership, and other Christians condemn abuse and physical violence against wives in the strongest possible terms.

· Pastors need to be confronted and asked to stop abusing their positions of influence by preaching against women, which they do by advocating what I call Traditional Role Religion (Patriarchy). All of us can stop tolerating demeaning speech and behavior against women-no matter where it comes from. I was so proud of my son when he confronted someone for using a very common stereotypical racist term that is really a slur against Jews. It is a term that most people have used all of their lives and think nothing of. But my son recognized the seemingly harmless term as part of the fuel that feeds negative attitudes, bigotry, and hatred, against Jews. It is the same with bigotry and hatred against women. It has to stop. I was in a church recently where the pastor made a demeaning, statement against women, and then had the audacity to ask if anyone would give him an "AMEN" to that shameful remark! The church was totally silent. Probably with shock. I took the opportunity to speak up-after all, the pastor did ask.... I said, "No. Absolutely not." I refused to be silent. I did not shout it. I did not make a scene. I simply answered the direct question in as calm a manner as possible. I noticed a couple of people smiling at me in agreement as I spoke out. Don't wait for someone else to lead the way.

·  Raise our sons to respect girls and women every bit as much as we raise them to respect other boys and men. Raise our daughters to respect themselves, and to stand up for themselves against gender put downs and insults. They are always unacceptable.

BLH:  How did writing "Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence" and "Woman this is WAR! Gender, Slavery and the Evangelical Caste System" change or enlighten you as a writer? 

JA:    Writing these books forced me to step outside my comfort zone and write about things that I did not want to think about, much less write about. I had moved beyond the abuse in my life and wanted to forget those things that are behind.... And I have, with the exception that I cannot keep silent as I witness the terrible suffering of women and families due to what is still very much a contemporary issue (current male headship preaching) that is utterly destroying lives.

BLH:  Your books are non-fiction. Has that made it easier to market and sell the books? 

JA:    No and yes. 

BLH:  Why? 

JA:    I much prefer writing to marketing. That being said, domestic violence is such an epidemic among Christians and in society in general, that people are always searching for resources to help and my book, "Woman Submit...," invariably comes up in the searches that include both search words-dv and Christians. So, it has remained a steady seller ever since it was published.

BLH:  Please share two to three marketing strategies that work for you in spreading the word about your books and reaching your target audience. 

JA:    When reaching out via social media, or anywhere online for that matter, I try to make sure that my readers are benefiting from my LinkedIn, Facebook posts, comments, or tweets. I ask myself, "What's in it for them?" Offline, I have seen some success in marketing to bookstores and shelters through mailing informational book flyers. Sadly, I received very little response from churches from the mailings.

BLH:  What advice do you have for a writer who is publishing her/his first non-fiction book, specifically as it regards finding a publisher or printer (if they are self-publishing) and marketing their first book. 

JA:    Early on, I found an agent who was interested in taking me on as a client but was scared to death of some of my content (Woman Submit). She admitted the content was "gold" (her term) and said my message needed to be heard, but felt she would be blacklisted by Christian publishers if she tried to peddle my book as it was written. I refused to make the changes she suggested as I felt it would take the heart out of my message. She was not a novice. She represents a very respected firm.

We talked for about eight months before she made the decision to decline me as a client for that book. At that point, I chose not to self-publish, so I started my own publishing company, which, in spite of the fact that I owned the company, gave my book a publisher other than myself. It was a good decision for that book at that time.

I used Lightning Source as my distributor and printer for both, "Woman Submit...," and "Woman this is WAR..." There are business costs involved with using Lightning Source. Lightning source only works with publishing companies and not with individual authors. I also have a few booklets published through Lulu.com, and Amazon's Create Space, and Kindle as well. It does not cost the author anything to self-publish using those platforms. I have found the tutorials on Lulu very helpful in formatting and publishing e-books.

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