HEALING from an abusive relationship can include years of therapy or, in Michaela Daphne’s case, lead to publishing two fiction novels.
The 31-year-old from Brisbane is the author of Purlieu and the recently launched Verja, the first two books from her Hidden Grove Series.
The series follows Evelyn, a young woman who is manipulated by a young man into leaving her home, and was inspired by Ms Daphne’s experience of an emotionally abusive relationship.
Ms Daphne was 18 when she started a relationship with a Christian man who became overly controlling of her daily life.
He took charge of her financial decisions, diet, social life, bedtime and eventually questioned her Catholic faith.
Six months after ending the relationship, she saw a billboard that explained what she had gone through was a form of abuse.
In many ways, writing fantasy novels has been a form of therapy for the Catholic author.
“Writing these stories has been as much for the other women out there as it has been for myself,” Ms Daphne said.
“I feel like I can talk about what I went through because I’ve processed it, because I’ve written about it like this.”
In the latest instalment of the Hidden Grove Series, Evelyn finds herself trapped in Verja, a pagan, underground world that practises human sacrifice, and tempted by another man vying for her affection.
The book follows Evelyn’s internal journey of processing her former abusive relationship while also learning to articulate the abuse to her father and friends.
Ms Daphne said the book offered a message about healing and recovering from an abusive relationship in a way that was more effective than simply sharing her testimony.
“One of my beta readers was somebody who’s been in an abusive relationship in the past, and feels very passionate about wanting to get this message out there,” she said.
“She reconfirmed for me that (writing fiction novels) is one of the best ways to do it.
“You can go into schools and speak upfront about this kind of stuff … but I think most women will think, ‘It won’t happen to me and I’m smarter or wiser’.
“Evelyn herself even thinks that … and still it happened to her.”
Ms Daphne said while she initially set out to give young women the warning signs of an abusive relationship, the response from her first book showed it was benefiting abuse survivors and victims more.
She was particularly moved by the number of women who personally came forward to her with their testimonies after reading the book.
“I had a lot of women who had been through similar situations and hadn’t talked about it, and when I started sharing what I’d been through, and they knew that was the inspiration behind Purlieu, they absolutely opened up,” she said.
“I think the people that benefit most from this series is women who have already been through that situation, and they haven’t spoken about it or they don’t know how to process what they’ve been through.
“My hope and intention was this could be a preventative measure, particularly for young women, but what I’ve come to realise is that women who have been through this stuff, think it’s not going to happen to them.
“So I think the bigger message for prevention is self-respect, and loving yourself, and that is what can actually prevent you from putting yourself in a situation where you are with somebody who doesn’t love and respect you.
“Whereas for the women who are currently in the relationship, or been through it, I think that’s where something like this series can really help them.”
Win a free copy of Verja
THE Catholic Leader is giving away a copy of Verja, the second book
in the Hidden Grove Series, by Michaela Daphne. To win a copy of
the book, email your name, address and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Verja book giveaway’