This month the Ballymena Today book club focus is Big Little Lies by Laine Moriarty. One of the major themes explored in the book is domestic abuse. Reading some of the situations and descriptions of Celeste and Perry’s marriage can be challenging but many domestic abuse experts have hailed the depiction as realistic.
In the book a married couple, Celeste and Perry appear to have a perfect life with perfect children. However behind closed doors Perry exhibits controlling and violent behaviour. His outbursts are regularly followed by heartfelt apologies and promises. Celeste seems to be completely under his spell, however it is clear to readers that Perry is abusive, manipulative and dangerous.
Here are some of the points that stood out for us as we read this storyline. We want to highlight them here to shine a spotlight on the problem of domestic abuse.
1/ Not even her closest friends knew
Celeste has a busy social life and lots of friends, some who she sees regularly however none of them suspect that anything is going wrong.
If you are in an abusive relationship the chances are that you have become an expert at covering things up. From bruises to emotions you are petrified that your friends will fins out and that your world will be shattered. You probably believe that your friends would never understand or believe you – we want to encourage you to please talk to someone.
If you cannot open up to someone you know then call the 24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline is now live.
Call 0808 802 1414 – open to all women and men affected by domestic & sexual violence.
It could be the most important call that you ever make.
2/ She doesn’t want to split her family up
Celeste and Perry have twin boys and to the outside world they are the perfect family unit. The book at times touches upon the fact that Perry is a loving and attentive and at times over the top father. Isn’t this so realistic? And it is all part of his plan to manipulate and trap his wife. However, as a reader on the outside looking in it is easy to see that his children are victims of his abuse too. Indeed the author points out how much children are influenced by the behaviour they see at home. Women’s Aid have a branch based in Ballymena who can help you and give you advice if your are in a similar situation and have family responsibilities. Click here to visit the Women’s Aid website. Click here for more inforamtion from Refuge.
3/ Celeste blames herself
In the book we learn that Celeste was once a busy and successful lawyer, confidents and socialable yet when we meet her she is a nervous wreck. Perry has little by little broken down her confidence and convinced her that her place is at home with her kids and her husband. Celeste at one point admits to a counsellor that Perry only uses violence when she ‘deserves’ it. Celeste spends her life tiptoeing around, petrified of setting him off.
Marie Clare magazine have written an article on this topic saying:
Ending a relationship that has consumed and controlled every aspect of a woman’s life is incredibly difficult. Celeste may leave, despite the odds stacked against her; or she may stay, altering her behaviour just to survive from one day to the next. In real life, the most likely scenario is that Perry’s abuse will escalate in frequency and severity over time. Two women a week lose their lives to domestic violence in England and Wales alone, and women are most at risk of homicide at the point of leaving.
While Big Little Lies is an entertaining book we cannot read it together without addressing this major theme. Domestic abuse is not acceptable, and if you relate with anything which we have shared here to day then we urge you to get in touch with Women’s Aid (click here for the Facebook page) and talk to someone about your situation.
To find out more about Ballymena Today book club please click here.