BOOK REVIEW: When Love Bites by Cathy Press.

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BOOK REVIEW: When Love Bites, by Cathy Press.

Billed as a ‘Young person’s guide to escaping the trap of harmful, toxic and hurtful relationships’ this sounds like a great book to support the work I already do in schools to raise awareness of coercive control and domestic abuse .

I had high hopes for it.

They were met. The book is excellent.

It’s a book that demands to be read from the moment you pick it up – brightly coloured, quality paper and easily navigated from the start When Love Bites is a great guide for young people. The psychology of abusive relationships is explored through a number of ‘types’ of abusive behaviour – each of which is given a simple-to -understand nickname under the overall banner of The Controller.

The Controller shows up in a number of guises and these are explored and explained in a number of ways – scenarios, episodes, actions – so that it becomes easier for young people to reflect on their own experiences, the relationships they may see around then and those on TV and in film and, crucially, spot abusive and controlling behaviours.

Each of the behaviours outlined is accompanied with a cool tattoo-style theme and a list of how they may present themselves – this includes the ideal type of behaviours we should all expect and look for:

The Partner – ideal behaviours

The Controller –  how controllers work on others

The Charmer – using charm to achieve their goals

The Bully – when charm doesn’t work, threats might

The Mindmixer – gaslighting and mind games

The Taker – sexual exploitation

The Keeper – isolation as a tool of control

Each section is colour-coded and discusses what a young person will need to know to be able to recognise unhealthy relationship traits. It’s done in a factual and unsensational way that just explains that some people are – whether they know it or not – not ideal relationship material and how to spot and avoid them.

The final third of the book seeks to reassure young people who may be in controlling or unhealthy / abusive relationships that they have choices and what they can do to escape the trap they may find themselves in, and avoid the same mistakes again.

I will be recommending Cathy’s book to all PSHE and SRE teachers from now on and will take a copy with me into my sessions.

You can get the book HERE.

You can find out about the workshops and the work I do in schools to raise awareness of coercive control and domestic abuse HERE.