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Is It My Fault?: Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence. Paperback – May 1, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Is It My Fault? is a must read for all involved in or have been involved in domestic abuse. Being yourself or someone you know, this book helps one to have a better understanding about abuse. I wish I had this book handy when I was in my first marriage. Even though that relationship has been over for over a decade now, I now see how much danger I was in. I would definitely recommend this book for all of those in an abusive relationship. Including teenagers, those in a same sex relationship, and friends and family of the abused. - Amy


“This book is a tour de force of wisdom, goodness, and compassion for those who know the agony and shame of domestic violence and for every leader who interacts with more than four families in a year. One out of every four homes in America will experience domestic abuse and it is no different in the church than in the so-called secular world. In fact, conservative Christians are more likely to remain in violence and think it is biblical. This treasure of a book invites the reader into a sweeping and life giving understanding of the Bible’s view of women, violence, suffering, and redemption that if embraced would radically alter how victims and care givers address this heartache. This is a must-read book.”

Dan B. Allender, Professor of Counseling Psychology and founding president of the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology

“Specific, tender, concrete, compassionate, bold, understanding, wise, and dyed with the gorgeous gospel of grace that is ours in Christ Jesus. I love this book! It unpacks the experience of the victim without ever feeling coldly analytical. It gives you important things to consider and clear steps to take without ever pushing you. Read it and you’ll feel loved, understood, and helped, but best of all you’ll rest in the love of Jesus more than you have before.”

Paul Tripp, President of Paul Tripp Ministries; executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas; and author of A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble

“The authors’ deeply compassionate writing offers us a book that does not merely speak to us, it comes along beside us—offering both experience and in-depth knowledge about this emotionally charged subject. Too often the church has been not merely been silent but complicit in protecting abusers and marginalizing victims. Justin and Lindsey’s book takes us in a new direction of hope, healing, and mercy. I am more than happy to commend this book.”

Gregory O. Brewer, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida

“Domestic abuse is an area where sincere but uninformed ‘help’ can hurt. Unfortunately, even the misuse of Scripture, often by well-meaning Christians, can become part of the problem. Justin and Lindsey serve the church well by defining what abuse is, what Scripture says, how victims should respond, and how pastor-counselors can be effectively involved. This is a must-read for pastors, victims, and friends of victims. This issue is too prevalent and devastating to be ignored. The blind eye of the church hurts those without a voice. Read this book and become equipped to effectively care for those whose cry is reaching the ear of God and are waiting for a hand from the body of Christ.”

Brad Hambrick, Pastor of counseling at The Summit Church (Durham, NC) and author of Self-Centered Spouse: Help for Chronically Broken Marriages

“This is it. This is the book on domestic violence that needs to be sitting on every pastor’s desk, required reading for every seminarian, and the next book discussed among church leadership, in book clubs, Bible studies, home groups, and lay counselor trainings. Not only do Justin and Lindsey compassionately and responsibly define domestic violence, identify its signs, its cycles, and its effects on the victims and their communities, they take us to Scripture to reveal God’s heart for those unnecessarily afflicted and trapped in violent domestic relationships. Each person who reads this book will have a better understanding of how to identify domestic violence in their own relationships or in those of people they know, love, and minister to. And with a thorough appendix of practical information and steps to take, both the victims and the ones supporting them will gain the insight and clarity they need to prevent the violence from happening again.”

Monica Taffinder, Cofounder and counselor, Grace Clinic Christian Counseling

“While reading this book I found myself regularly exclaiming ‘Amen!’ and ‘Come on!’ to Lindsey and Justin’s wisdom and biblical understanding of the issues. This book is a valuable and important resource for Christian women who have experienced abuse and for all those who want to support them. Lindsey and Justin invite the Christian community to honor and value women and children and to no longer collude with, perpetuate, or indeed perpetrate abuse against those whom God has created. I have been looking for a book to recommend to women in the conservative Christian church and their supporters; this book is ideal.”

Natalie Collins, Activist working to end violence against women and gender injustice; founder of the DAY Programme and Spark

“In simple, eloquent prose, Justin and Lindsey Holcomb shine a light on the darkness surrounding domestic violence. As detailed in the accounts of survivors, the very husbands and fathers charged with the care of their families sometimes represent the greatest threat. Equally troublesome, many clergy and church leaders routinely support offenders and ostracize victims. In making clear that God stands with the suffering, this book offers survivors a path to healing and the church a path to reform.”

Victor Vieth, Executive Director, National Child Protection Training Center; child protection attorney; author

“Justin and Lindsey have done it again! Their book on sexual abuse, Rid My Disgrace, and now this one, Is It My Fault?, are gifts to the church, its leaders, and especially to those who suffer from the horror and pain of sexual assault and domestic violence. In this book you will find compassionate, practical, biblical, and grace-based help for those who suffer and for those who love and want to help those who suffer. If you are a pastor or a leader and care, this is not an optional book. You will ‘rise up and call’ Justin and Lindsey blessed for writing it . . . and, more important, those to whom you minister will, too.”

Steve Brown, Host, Key Life Radio Program; author, Three Free Sins: God Isn’t Mad At You

“Domestic violence demands silence—perpetrators don’t want to be exposed, and victims are too ashamed to speak. Justin and Lindsey counter that silence with words and deeds. They give words to describe it, words to speak to the Lord, words that remind us of the truth, such as ‘It is never my fault’ and ‘He [God] delights in us,’ and deeds that can bring the violence to an end.”

Ed Welch. Counselor and Faculty, the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation; author

“The roots of domestic violence and the resulting wounds and scars are deep and enduring. So I am very grateful for the wisdom and expertise of Justin and Lindsey Holcomb in helping the church understand and apply the biblical requirements of justice and accountability and the biblical promises of healing and hope. The Holcombs’ work is a gift from God to all of us and a valuable ministry of Christ’s restorative gospel for those who have suffered great harm.”

Jared Wilson, Pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church and author of Gospel Wakefulness

“One of every four women you know has or will face intimate partner violence. What does the God of Scripture say to them? In this rich and rare resource, Justin and Lindsey Holcomb combine their theological and practical training to offer these women a way out of both abuse and the shame and despair that accompany it. They show powerfully how the ‘one-way violence’ of abusers is overcome by the ‘one-way love’ of God in Christ. I recommend this book to every church leader looking for a truly Christ-centered response to domestic violence in their midst.”

Katelyn Beaty, Managing Editor, Christianity Today

“Could the gospel be not just for sinners, but for victims? Having worked with many who have been impacted by psychological, sexual, and physical abuse, I am so grateful for this book. It reminds me, once again, that the gospel is indeed good news—particularly to those who have been victimized.”

Chuck DeGroat, Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Western Theological Seminary; senior fellow, Newbigin House of Studies; and author of Toughest People to Love

“The Holcombs offer an ‘intervention of grace’ to those who suffer under domestic violence. They show that the God of the Bible abounds in grace and love, restoring dignity and hope to those who’ve been harmed. Victims will find a voice to speak out about the violence they’ve endured, guided by the very words of Scripture, and they will find a God who acts with righteous power to rescue the oppressed.”

Mike Wilkerson, Author, Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry



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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers; New edition (May 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802410243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802410245
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #668,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As we sat in the school auditorium where our church meets, I could feel my wife seething beside me. Our pastor had come to a crucial text in one of the gospels—Jesus’ teaching on divorce. As we listened to our pastor strongly (and faithfully) teach on what the Bible says about marriage and divorce, Emily became increasingly agitated. Not because of anything that was said, but what hadn’t been: what about women who are being abused?

To many, the Bible’s teaching on divorce seems too simplistic to deal with these issues. Bad counsel based on incomplete teaching leaves many women (and men) feeling trapped, with nowhere to turn when their spouses begin to spiritually, psychologically, physically or sexually abuse them. When the abuse somehow becomes their fault in the counselling session, or they’re too ashamed to even say anything at all—or don’t even know if it “counts.”

Emily’s anger was birthed from experiences of these feelings in both her childhood and adolescent years, and her empathy for several friends who have experienced abuse in their marriages. If we’re to offer any sort of hope and encouragement to those suffering from domestic violence, we need to know what the Bible has to say to them.

This is why books like Is It My Fault? are so necessary. From its opening pages, Justin and Lindsey Holcomb offer a compassionate and biblical look at the problem of domestic violence, beginning with five words victims need to hear: It is never your fault.

"No matter what kind of abuse you have experienced, there is nothing you can do, nothing you can say, nothing you think that makes you deserving of it. There is no mistake you could have made and no sin you could have committed to make you deserving of violence.

"You did not deserve this.
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How people use language is of vital importance in the field of abuse and violence. I'm sorry to say that despite their good intentions, the Holcomb's seem to not be aware of how write about domestic abuse in a way which does not dishonour, belittle or blame victims.

There are some good aspects of this book. The authors do not see domestic abuse as a 'relationship problem' (unlike most Chrsitians who write on this topic!) Nor do they waste time on pushing the forgiveness barrow; they never push couple counseling or 'reconciliation' or talk mushily about 'redeeming' such and such. They get the gender stuff right — recognising that some victims are male, they nevertheless write to and for the overwhelming majority of victims who are women, and whose abusers are men. The scriptural principle of fleeing abuse & escaping from persecution is well handled. The authors put the victim's safety first. They show how Psalms 18 and 55 relate to domestic abuse. They help the reader who is unsure whether she is being abused. Why some women stay, and the resistance of abused women are addressed reasonably well. And encourage the victim to trust herself more.

But there are bad aspects of this book which in my opinion outweigh the good points.
Their teaching on the permissibility of divorce for abuse is very wishywashy; I believe it will hurt or confuse many victims of abuse. The authors use the terms 'violence' and 'physical abuse' too frequently and thus fail to adequately do away with the myth that abuse is equated to violence — and if there's no violence, it's not really abuse. Their discussion of suffering and what Jesus substitutionally bore on our behalf is a doctrinally muddled mess and will trigger many victims, making them feel like they are being blamed for the abuse.
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Domestic violence (DV) is a difficult subject and one that is often misunderstood. Consequently, victims may not realize that what is happening to them is abuse. Also well-intentioned but uninformed counsel may re-victimize those already hurting. "Is It My Fault?" brings this topic to light for the victim and those who would help her.

To give a brief overview, this book is divided into three sections:

Part 1 - What is Domestic Violence? - This section lays the groundwork by defining DV and its extent. Contrary to what many may think, abuse is not just physical. Neither is it a relational issue but one of control. [21]

"Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling, or abusive behavior that is used by one individual to gain or maintain power and control over another individual in the context of an intimate relationship. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, exploit, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound an intimate partner."[57]

Part 2 - Women, Domestic Violence, and the Bible - Does God care about women? Does He demand that a woman remain in an abusive situation and suffer for His sake? The authors go back to the Scriptures to find the answers to these questions and others. They expose how the Bible can be misused and also clearly show that God is a deliverer who desires healing and wholeness for the oppressed.

Part 3 - Reflections from the Psalms - The authors take three Psalms and walk the reader through the Psalmist's struggles and suffering. They don't respond with Christian cliches or make light of a victim's pain. The desire for justice is not minimized either. But these Psalms provide a way for the victim to pray and cry out to God in her distress.
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