Burnt But Not Destroyed - Jasmine Matterson speaks the taboo topic
What began as the journal of a hurt and mistreated woman is now a published book which aims to break the silence on domestic abuse and to encourage others who are faced with similar social struggles.
Burnt but Not Destroyed, as it is called, is a memoir that documents the experiences of Jasmine Matterson who sought therapy in writing.
"I was always keeping a journal of my experiences because in an abusive relationship, your partner's actions distort your reality, so in order to ground myself and define my own reality, I wrote down incidents so I could have a frame of reference when the issues came up. Journaling was therapeutic as it provided an outlet. I could pour out my thoughts and feelings into my diary, especially at times when I found it difficult to talk to anyone.
"One day, I read through my journal and saw the framework for a story. Based on the elements of a story such as setting, characterisation and plot sequence, I started constructing one. I later went back to revise it and added some details to embellish the narrative and add some intrigue," Matterson said, noting that she had always wanted to write a book but was never sure what it would be about.
Touching on values surrounding relationships, domestic abuse, religious hypocrisy, gender roles, and parenting, Matterson told Family & Religion that her book is somewhat controversial.
"There is the hypocrisy of religious pressure which causes many Christian girls to hurry into a marriage for the sake of hiding from their sexuality instead of making sure the man they indulge with is right for them. There is also the stigma attached to divorce and how it affects a woman who is in an abusive relationship, making her feel she has to stay out of a sense of Christian duty and to avoid being ostracised and judged," she said, as she described herself as a radical Christian who has a relationship with Christ and not the church.
Defying the odds
The book also speaks of ambition and progress despite mitigating circumstances of poverty and domestic abuse as the main character suffers abandonment issues as a child and domestic abuse as an adult, yet her career and professional life were successful.
Matterson, who has been a teacher of English at the high-school level for almost 30 years, told Family & Religion that Burnt but Not Destroyed symbolises resilience and can help young women who are stuck in abusive relationships as well as parents and religious leaders.
"Young women who embrace religious values can see that just because you make a mistake doesn't mean you are condemned in God's sight. There is no need to feel dirty and unworthy. Those who suffer from sexual molestation can find peace in sharing the trauma with a trusted friend instead of protecting the abuser to their own detriment. They can also find ways to heal from this trauma without self-destructive behaviours.
"Older women who are in abusive marriages can see that there is no divine mandate that forces them to stay. God would rather you leave than suffer from the psychological harm associated with this experience.
"Parents can pay more close attention to their children and build a bond which encourages them to open up about painful experiences. And religious leaders can preach more grace and less condemnation so those who miss the mark do not feel condemned and will not be forced into religious apathy," she said.
Burnt but Not Destroyed was published in March and is now available on Amazon and Kindle.