Baker and Schneiderman are both leaders in research on child abuse and parental alienation. Here they examine published memoirs and stories of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of children, identifying themes from the literature and illustrative narratives. Though the authors do not elaborate on the themes or on how children make sense of maltreatment by parents, the writings Baker and Schneiderman examine reveal children's fear and dread, yearning for approval, and coping strategies as they try to please parents—enabling readers to travel with children through trauma, deprivation, and the quest for parental approval. The book reveals children's need for parental approval and recognition even when parents are not present, do not approve of their children, or do not see children as separate beings. Mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia, substance abuse, personality disorder) often figures in, preventing parents from appreciating children’s needs. The authors point out that despite pain, suffering, and/or deprivation, children often yearn for parental love, approval, and recognition; without therapeutic intervention, that yearning can continue into adulthood. This book will be helpful for understanding child abuse and children's bonds with abusers. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; graduate students; professionals; general readers.
— Choice Reviews
Before I became a therapist, I had a very hard time seeing how one could forgive the abuser of an innocent child. I found it almost excruciating to try to understand the mindset of the person who had harmed an innocent kid, often their own. But once I became a therapist, I recognized that a host of problems in the abuser’s life and upbringing often contribute to their violent behavior. Mental illness, their own experience of prior abuse, their own early childhood trauma, and substance issues can be factors. Sometimes, though, we cannot quite identify what the behavior stems from. But as Amy Baker and Mel Schneiderman write in Bonded to the Abuser: How Victims Make Sense of Childhood Abuse, no matter what the cause of the maltreatment, there are children who suffer through unthinkable experiences yet still feel connected to their abuser. . . . When it comes to this difficult but extremely relevant topic, Baker and Schneiderman give us an excellent resource As a therapist, I found their book not only interesting but also necessarily jolting. It can be easy to forget, or to not understand, what happens to the millions of children who are hurt by a disturbed parent. One way to ensure that we contribute to the eradication of child abuse is by educating ourselves and awakening our senses to this very heartbreaking reality.
— Psych Central
Bonded to the Abuser is a wise and helpful approach to a painful subject. It gives voice to an often neglected and under-served population. It will be an extremely helpful resource for professionals and for those who are living with the legacy of abuse.
— Joshua Coleman, Ph.D., author of When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Get Along
Amy J. L. Baker and Mel Schneiderman have synthesized a mountain of qualitative data from the first-hand accounts of individuals who experienced abuse and neglect as children. They reviewed 45 books, which relate in painstaking and heartbreaking detail how the writers lived through and managed to survive physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect. The primary theme of the book is the remarkable and counterintuitive observation that abused children remain attached to their abusive parents, whom they might perceive as charming and charismatic. Children who are physically or emotionally neglected remain loyal to their parents, who rarely acknowledged the children's presense or personhood. Readers of Bonded to the Abuser will learn various mechanisms by which maltreated children fear, love, hate, and long for their moms and dads.
— William Bernet, M.D., professor emeritus, Department of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee
Bonded to the Abuser is compelling for both lay people and for professionals who deal with child maltreatment on a daily basis. By presenting the voices of adults abused as children as they narrate, in their memoirs, their early life experiences, and then identifying the themes that arise by form(s) of abuse, Baker and Schneiderman capture the essence of the human experience. This includes our extreme vulnerability as children, our complete dependence on our parents for care and provisioning, the enormous responsibility of that care, the tragedy that occurs when parents refuse to accept responsibility/are not up to the task, the lasting consequences of abuse and neglect for individuals, the role of forgiveness, and the importance of other caring adults and institutions (particularly schools) in partially compensating for parental deficits. I cannot think of another book that illuminates the experience of maltreatment more clearly than Bonded to the Abuser.
— Marla R. Brassard, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
Bonded to the Abuser is a compelling read. Baker and Schneiderman have captured the power of individual experiences and have knit them together in a way that reveals patterns and contextualizes them in current psychological theory and research. This is a great resource on maltreatment for anyone seeking to understand what it is like to be a victimized child.
— Amy M. Smith Slep, Ph.D., Professor, Family Translational Research Group, New York University