A survivor of religious domestic abuse offers hope to the hopeless through her debut book.

Writing had always proved therapeutic for Becky Commean. She enjoyed journaling, and she problem-solved by putting a pen to paper. Becky wasn’t an aspiring author — the process was just a valuable personal resource. The mother of nine never imagined this instinctive need to capture her thoughts, feelings, and experiences would result in a professionally published memoir.

Born and raised in the Lutheran church, Becky spent her life in Christian congregations. She attended a variety of denominations over the years, including the Pentecostal church that was her husband’s preference. Within the walls of a building meant to protect the defenseless, Becky was living a silent, screaming nightmare. Up until their honeymoon, her husband seemed like a sweet, kind man. A respected member of the church, he maintained that façade in public. At home, he manipulated Becky through lies, gaslighting, and a strict financial prison. Even though Becky knew something was wrong, her husband and their church leaders taught that it was a wife’s responsibility to please her husband. His tyrannical cruelty, reinforced by the church, escalated so slowly that Becky blamed herself.

What Becky experienced was spousal abuse. It took years — and, when Becky became suicidal, the intervention of a counselor — for Becky to understand she was the victim, not the cause. Decades of societal conditioning have falsely limited public perception of abuse to acts of physical violence. While insidious, because the emotional, verbal, and spiritual actions of Becky’s husband didn’t fit the stereotype, Becky didn’t realize her situation was abusive. Tragically, the church was equally culpable in her abuse. They misappropriated scripture and promoted submission culture to uphold their patriarchal power.

In 2016, after Becky’s attempt to divorce her husband failed, the actions of a mediator resulted in her husband’s departure. According to Becky, “He just went to work and never came home.” At the time, she was a stay-at-home mother homeschooling nine children without financial support. She possessed a college degree but no work experience.

To provide for her family, Becky moved onto a 130-acre property in southern Missouri. The Commeans produce and sell dairy products and grass-fed beef through their Commean Family Farms business. The mediator also ensured that her husband provided funds. But this isn’t lucrative financial security. Becky knows how easily her husband could revoke his money. Becky’s also intimately aware that countless women share her situation: they are trapped, terrified, and grieving.

A Book the World Needs

After her husband abandoned Becky, she poured years of heartbroken trauma into words. Tapping into her existing love for writing was a remedial balm, a self-created space for Becky to safely grapple with her anguished spirit.

Turning her eye toward authorship happened over time but with clear intent. Becky had researched church-specific domestic violence and was staggered to discover the pervasive statistics. Armed with this life-altering context, Becky gained clarity. “I thought, if this is my life, I’m going to do my best to make sure that nobody else has to go through this,” she shares.

Becky met Nancy Erickson, the founder of The Book Professor®, through their mutual friend Wendy Everts, author of The Challenge. Nancy had edited Wendy’s book, so Wendy assured Becky she was in the right hands. Nancy immediately agreed with Becky and Wendy’s convictions. Domestic violence, especially in religious circles, is a horrifying epidemic affecting millions. The world desperately needed this book.

“I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t identified with [domestic abuse] in some way,” says Becky. “Either they have experienced it themselves, or they know somebody, or they grew up with it.”

Five years later, Is This Domestic Abuse?: A Handbook for Christian Women Who Feel Hopeless in Their Marriage exists as a published reality. Designed as a guidebook, Becky uses her story to help women recognize the signs of spousal abuse. She also provides protective resources for navigating the treacherous aftermath and demands accountability from the powerful.

Focus is Key

Initially, Becky approached her book with pages of what she now describes as “ramblings.” She tried to organize the content herself, but she didn’t know the best practices, let alone what met publishing standards.

When The Book Professor® edited Becky’s manuscript, she consolidated duplications. Nancy helped Becky solidify her book’s purpose and narrow its scope to best achieve that intent. Becky had initially wanted her manuscript to address multiple topics, like hierarchal workplace abuse. Nancy advised Becky that too many subjects would dilute her initial and truest objective.

Becky also clarified her thoughts with practice. Building the first draft of her manuscript inspired her to keep researching, which added dimension to her existing work. Overall, “just getting down” those messy first words laid the foundation for a stronger product. Backed by the BookMAP structure and Nancy’s keen experience, Becky discovered the right words for such delicate, painful material.

Providing Flexibility

Crafting Is This Domestic Abuse? meant acknowledging that Becky was a survivor with limited resources. Instead of pursuing The Book Professor®’s traditional one-year program, Nancy personalized her coaching according to Becky’s needs. The two designed a payment plan and worked around Becky’s commitments. The flexibility allowed Becky to write at her own pace. Becky firmly believes this let her forge an improved product. Without deadline pressure adding to her existing stresses, Becky approached her writing sessions comfortably and unhurried.

Nancy remained at Becky’s side to edit and encourage. She never rushed Becky. “[Nancy] made it so much better than it was,” she muses. “She was very easy to work with, very flexible, very helpful, very encouraging from the first time she looked at my manuscript. [She said] ‘This is happening, I don’t care how long it takes.”

Additionally, the quieter pace allowed Becky to heal her fractured relationship with God. After spending so long begging for His deliverance only for God to seemingly never intervene, Becky was in a spiritual quagmire. Compounding this were the church officials who dismissed and victim-blamed Becky’s abuse. As she constructed her manuscript, God provided her with insights, scripture passages, and key emotions she might’ve otherwise overlooked.

Refining her final prose proved the most difficult. After a year away from her manuscript, working through it left Becky devastated. Every emotion she felt during her abuse “flooded back.” Becky is incredibly grateful to The Book Professor® for supporting her through every positive and negative: recognizing her story’s worth, accommodating her financial circumstances, and patiently spending five years with her on this tumultuous yet joyful journey.

Worth Every Penny

As a first-time author, Becky discovered that writing a book was more complicated than she assumed. The intricacies of the editing, the marketing, and the publishing surprised her. After learning from Nancy and the team at Stonebrook Publishing, The Book Professor®’s sister company, Becky would never consider self-publishing. She understands why people do. Nevertheless, a professional editor fundamentally improves even the best self-published work.

Publishers also have the resources necessary to transform a final draft into something tangible and elevate its visibility with prospective buyers. The Stonebrook Publishing designers captured exactly what Becky wanted the cover of Is This Domestic Abuse? to convey. “I was floored with how perceptive they were with the art,” she says. “I saw [the cover] and I was like, that’s me. And I know there’s a lot of women in the same situation as me, staring at the front of the church wondering: where’s God? Where are the helpers?”

Becky couldn’t feel more confident with her final product. “I know my book is so much better after being edited by somebody who knows what they’re doing,” she explains. “Paying somebody professional to do the editing and the publishing and working with the printers — all that kind of stuff is worth every penny.”

…And Worth the Wait

Stonebrook Publishing released Is This Domestic Abuse?: A Handbook for Christian Women Who Feel Hopeless in Their Marriage on October 25th, 2023. Becky, laughing and smiling, still can’t believe her book exists. In retrospect, she knows God spent years weaving small miracles that culminated in her book’s release. Having The Book Professor® guide Becky was an inseparable facet of His plan.

The overwhelmingly positive feedback Becky has received has been both rewarding and validating. The reminders that Is This Domestic Abuse? fills a vacuum is slowly rebuilding Becky’s shattered self-confidence. For Becky, “It takes away some of the voices in my head that tell me I’m not worth anything.”

Above all, Becky hopes Is This Domestic Abuse? reaches the women, wives, and mothers who desperately need its hopeful message. Every survivor has value just because they’re a living, breathing person. “There is life after abuse,” Becky promises — and a way to be free.

Hope for the Hopeless

Becky Commean is approaching the future with Is This Domestic Abuse?: A Handbook for Christian Women Who Feel Hopeless in Their Marriage as her holy weapon. She wants to speak face-to-face with women about domestic violence at presentations, marriage seminars, and Bible study groups. She hopes seminaries and social service degree programs will incorporate the book into their curriculums. If doctors are concerned about their patients’ safety, insurance companies should provide free copies of the book. Becky encourages anyone in or near these fields to contact her through her website Commean Family Farms.

For Becky, The Book Professor® was a godsend. Now, she prays her own work is a godsend to others.

Are you moved to share your experience with others? Can your story improve a stranger’s life? Schedule a call with The Book Professor® today.