COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO, February 11, 2021 – Pink and red swirl in the roses and heart-shaped candy boxes that are everywhere this week, just days before Valentine’s Day. Lovers and others are figuring out new ways to celebrate and show love during this still-distanced winter.
But not everyone welcomes the reminders that Valentine’s Day brings. For those who have suffered abuse at the hands of their loved ones, Valentine’s Day may be yet another reminder of broken promises, pain and loss.
Debut author Darlene Leonard takes on these themes in her just-released novel, Black and Blue Hearts: The Ties that Blind. Told through the eyes of a young Christian wife, Leonard’s story starts with the romance of a new marriage, as the wife dreams of how they will build their life together, and she will support family goals. But the book traces the downward spiral of the family after the husband’s traumatic brain injury that leads to personality change and decades of verbal and emotional abuse for the wife, and for their children.
If the book seems to speak with authority, it is because it is based on Leonard’s own personal experiences. Her purpose in writing is to reach out to other women (and men) who either need rescuing to escape domestic violence or those who have escaped but need emotional healing, restoration, and faith to move forward.
And despite the difficult topic, the story carries a theme of 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 the difficulty and how long it may take to reach beyond the hurt, knowing in her own life it took years. Yet she speaks of the necessity and the 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 and our loved ones again. This is a vital part of my ministry because it’s something I didn’t recognize as a young believer. As Christians we are taught to forgive, but many in the Christian community think this means to then be willing to take abusers back into our lives. There is a significant difference between authentic forgiveness from our hearts toward victimizers and allowing them access back into our lives. “
Today, many in the Christian counseling community advise the wisdom of setting boundaries in toxic personal relationships. Leonard believes, however, that this message is one that leaders and pastors still need to hear.
“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 – verbal, psychological, financial, covert control, isolation, physical, marital sexual assault, and many other forms,” she notes.
Her goals in writing a page-turner novel is really to draw attention to the issues and reach out to those who need help, and to those who want to help others. She believes young people need to see warning signs, such as manipulation and controlling behavior, including misuse of Scripture.
As part of writing the book, Leonard amassed 20 pages of research included in the end notes to provide education and resources for those either unfamiliar with the issues or those who need to know where to go for help.
A native of Los Angeles, Leonard studied creative writing and English composition at Fullerton College, Fullerton, California. She later spent many years in the Rocky Mountain region while raising her family.
Today, she writes from her home in Colorado Springs and looks forward later in 2021 to returning to doing speaking engagements to help others understand more about domestic violence and traumatic brain injury. For more information about the topic and to contact Darlene Leonard, visit https://darleneleonard.com.
Black and Blue Hearts: The Ties that Blind [ISBN 978-1-952025-15-1, $11.99] just released in January from Carpenter’s Son Publishing. It is available from selected bookstores and online retailers.
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For review copies of the book or to interview Darlene Leonard, contact Joni Sullivan Baker, Buoyancy PR, at 513/319-3231 or firstname.lastname@example.org