Many books have been written about abuse but few, if any, have been written from the perspective of The Doghouse Angel. It is one woman’s account of experiencing, surviving, and thriving beyond an abusive childhood. It is not written to encourage self-pity or for sensationalism, but to help victims understand that:
- They are not alone
- They are capable of healing, if willing to do the work
- They are capable of thriving, beyond the healing
- They have knowledge of abuse which translates to power
- They must use that knowledge for good, and
- That they are integral in stopping the cycle
- Anyone who has been abused and seeks the comfort of knowing s/he is not alone,healing is possible, and life beyond abuse can be loving and secure.
- Anyone who has NOT been abused and wants to understand those who have
- Individuals who question the validity of their recall
- Psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors who specialize in assisting individuals who have been abused work through their history, resolve the trauma(s), survive, heal and thrive
- Social workers, case workers, foster/adoptive parents, and child specialists working with children/parents who have been victims of domestic violence
- Ministers, youth leaders, school counselors, teachers, and individuals who work in an environment where children are educated or instructed
- Health professionals who may see firsthand the physical evidence of abuse
- Anyone who is involved with/loves someone who has been abused and desires an understanding of how s/he may be feeling
- Anyone who wonders what is lacking in the lives of abuse victims and wishes to provide assistance
Ms. Steward tells her story through counseling sessions reflecting back to her earlier years. As one of eighteen children, she discusses the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse she endured. She writes in such a straightforward manner that the reader will be able to empathize with her pain, yet not feel that the author is writing just to receive pity, but to provide hope.
There are many portions of THE DOGHOUSE ANGEL that are heartbreaking to read. What these children suffered through is beyond most people's ability to comprehend. But there are many who have experienced similar situations in their own lives, and THE DOGHOUSE ANGEL is the perfect book to show that healing can occur. Ms. Steward draws a great deal of strength from her faith, and that message shows through each sentence she writes.
Scattered throughout the book are drawings and poems written by the author that helped her journey toward wholeness. These provide a clearer picture of the progress she was making and her attempts to work through the pain in her life.
I think THE DOGHOUSE ANGEL should be required reading for counselors, pastors, and others who deal with abused children and adults still traumatized by their childhood. Ms. Steward's insights will also help those of us who haven't experienced abuse as well, bringing this dark secret into the light. THE DOGHOUSE ANGEL is not an easy book to read, but readers will be enlightened and educated in the end, which is a more than worthwhile way to spend time.
Review in: RipsawNews/The News & Entertainment Weekly of
The Twin Ports (Duluth, MN & Superior, WI)
In our white picket fence world, books on sexual and physical abuse are a hard sell. We don't want to read about it. We don't even know it exists. But, in the real world, the abuse happens every day. It happens to friends and neighbors, right under our noses. Sometimes we aren't aware of it happening. Sometimes we just turn a blind eye, not wanting anything to tarnish the way shine on our own happy-go-lucky lives. The Doghouse Angel by Kimberly Steward, is a slap on the hand and, sometimes a punch in the gut to anyone hat has ever let their neighbor's children or wife or husband suffer needlessly.
This true story follows the therapeutic path of a young woman as she seeks professional counseling to exorcise the demons of her past. Caroline is the 13th of 18 children born to a family in rural Illinois. Throughout her childhood, Caroline and her siblings regularly endured physical, emotional and sexual abuse primarily at the hands of her uncle and father. Now as she prepares to marry and start a family, Caroline is fearful that she will become part of the vicious cycle and abuse her own children. With assistance from Doctor X, Caroline works to understand and overcome her haunting past.
Steward's book is carefully constructed, delicately balancing a bleak and disturbing history with Caroline's present accomplishment and hope for the future. Steward is cautious with her imagery, sparing the reader from too many gory details and injecting necessary warmth for the reader to humanize Caroline. One particularly touching moment finds young Caroline running to hide in the safety of the doghouse after an encounter with her uncle. She sleeps nestled in the dog's fur until morning comes when the angelic rays of streaming light give the child the much-needed assurance that there is a God that loves her.
Steward uses moments like these to foster understanding and compassion for victims, rather than linger on the gruesome and shocking to solicit pity or evoke contempt. The Doghouse Angel is a courageous, compelling and ultimately inspiring book that exposes the ugliness that goes on behind some white picket fences...ugliness that we all play a part in... and challenges the reader to stand up and be a part of the solution.