Roses and heart-shaped candy boxes are everywhere, just days before Valentine’s Day. Lovers and others are figuring out how to celebrate during this still-distanced winter.
But not everyone welcomes the reminders. For those who have suffered abuse from loved ones, Valentine’s Day may remind of broken promises, pain and loss.
Author Darlene Leonard takes on these themes in her novel, Black and Blue Hearts: The Ties that Blind. Leonard’s story starts with romance of a new marriage, as a young Christian wife dreams of building their life together. But the family spirals downward after the husband’s traumatic brain injury leads to personality change and decades of verbal and emotional abuse for the wife and their children.
If the book speaks with authority, it is because it is based on Leonard’s own story. She wrote a page-turner to reach out to others who need rescuing or emotional healing.
And despite the topic, the story offers hope and encouragement.
“Jesus reaches behind those closed doors of private suffering to answer broken cries. While the losses and trauma seem overwhelming, these people desperately need hope that it’s never too late to rise from the ashes as an overcomer, filled with joy and hope through God’s grace,” she says.
She doesn’t downplay how long it may take, knowing it took her years. Yet she speaks of the necessity and power of forgiveness.
“I believe part of the healing includes forgiving anyone who has harmed us, to prevent a root of bitterness from continuing to damage victimized souls,” she continues. “This group desperately needs hope that it is never too late to forgive those who have harmed us and begin again with a new life. “
“But don’t misunderstand – forgiveness does not mean allowing abusers back into our lives to reinjure us. There is a significant difference between authentic forgiveness toward victimizers and allowing them back into our lives. “
While many Christian counselors now advise setting boundaries, Leonard believes leaders and pastors still need to hear this message.
“Sadly, national statistics reveal that one out of four women and one of seven men sitting in the pews of American churches return home on Sundays to private violence behind closed doors,” she notes.
Leonard amassed 20 pages of research she includes to provide education and resources for others.
A native of Los Angeles, Leonard studied creative writing Fullerton College, California. She later spent many years in the Rocky Mountain region.
The Colorado Springs resident looks forward to again speaking about domestic violence and traumatic brain injury. Contact Leonard at https://darleneleonard.com.
Black and Blue Hearts: The Ties that Blind [ISBN 978-1-952025-15-1, $11.99] released in January from Carpenter’s Son Publishing.