While abuse survivors often find themselves keeping silent or saying what they think others want to hear, eventually something uncomfortable can set them off. Long held bitterness and resentments due to past trauma—unresolved feelings, inexplicable emotions, and troubling memories—build under pressure.

Before I started to heal from abuse, I held my trauma so far below the surface, I didn’t know it existed. Something inside wanted verbal expression, but I couldn’t define what it was, let alone what I felt. Each time I was triggered by a bad experience—another person or a stressful event—I added to the already tightly covered container of intense feelings on the verge of exploding, and the tension started to seep out.

I brought the bulging vessel into my marriage, tainting it with insecurity and unhappiness from my past that stayed with me like a toxic friend who I didn’t know how to confront. I lived in a chaotic emotional jumble. Miserable, I thought I put up a good front, though I blamed my husband as the cause of all my problems and those in our relationship. My children often took the brunt of my frustration and hostile feelings. Sometimes, I unnecessarily lashed out, exaggerating the most minor offenses, and felt guilty later for disciplining my kids with excessive punishment.

Unhealed victims of abuse fall prey to anger when overwhelmed with feelings stemming from the past.

My husband and I had often had terrible arguments about the lack of money and him wanting me to work. I highly resented him because my mom drilled into me to get married and find a husband to take care of me. I did what she said, but it wasn’t working, and I resented my husband all the more for it. Instead of either of us compromising and finding solutions, I raged at my husband because he refused to see my side of things. Brought to the brink of hysterics, I slammed my fists a few times on the dining table and screeched something awful at him, not considering any potential damage to my hands and wrists. With that action, I helped to bring on early arthritis and exacerbated carpel tunnel syndrome from a previous car accident. And hurting myself did nothing to help the situation.

Ironically, the very thing I needed to learn—how to use my voice—I discouraged in my children because they were afraid to approach me, not knowing if I’d be receptive or verbally explosive.

Anger quickly grew into the most common form of expression for everything else I felt. It acted as a protective barrier when I was inundated with painful feelings like humiliation, embarrassment, frustration, anxiety, or shame. My temper showed up as swearing, finger pointing, shouting, name calling, invading physical space, slamming doors, or driving aggressively.

Sadly, it took years to discover that my anger was directed toward everyone except those who abused me—my brother, abusive ex-boyfriends, parents who didn’t listen, and bullies in the school and workplace. In fear of retribution, I wouldn’t direct any angry feelings toward anyone who reminded me of my abusers.

Unhealed victims of abuse fall prey to anger when overwhelmed with feelings stemming from the past—powerlessness and frustration, facing uncontrollable circumstances, feeling unvalidated, or recognizing the acceptance of low expectations. Nerves are struck when feeling criticized, unloved, unwanted just as in childhood. Victims can be quick to anger when recalling how much trauma was endured through unfair and painful treatment and threats. Not feeling valued or being allowed a voice can make one feel as if still living an abusive past.

All these are normal reactions for a victim of abuse, because as children, most victims weren’t taught how to manage feelings and never learned any type of effective communication within a dysfunctional family. Feelings are generally spewed onto the closest family or friends. Anger can be directed at oneself, too, in harmful or suicidal behavior. Angry reactions can be far more intense than the situation warrants when one isn’t aware of the underlying cause of abuse.

Triggers causing anger usually indicate that something hit a nerve, a truth in dire need of exploration, but then ego can create denial to protect us and keep us from facing reality of the present or past. We’d rather blame people or situations for our unhappy lives instead of admitting we are flawed.

Anger is a helpful gauge telling us when something needs to be changed in order to experience happier choices and a peaceful state of being. If an abuse survivor can determine and honestly examine what is really at the heart of their anger, repercussions can be diminished, and one may find the situation doesn’t warrant the amount of anger expressed.

The more we confront what makes us uncomfortable, the closer we grow toward understanding what we need to change in ourselves and our circumstances. Anger will lessen as we move toward a more relaxed and satisfying way of living.

Critiques and Why We Need Them

My first story every written was a magnificent creative work that gave me the greatest sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. My heart saturated every word and thirsted to share it with the world.

But then I endured my first critique by people outside of my family and immediate circle of “that’s nice” friends. A gamut of emotions washed over me: shamed, disappointment, humiliation, embarrassment.

Having invested my soul into my manuscript, it never dawned on me that I may have had a good story but didn’t do a good job of writing it. How could a good story be poorly written? “Easily” is the answer.

If you haven’t read a lot of books to see what the good attributes are of a well written work, if you haven’t taken many writing classes, if you haven’t asked questions of good writers, then you might not be able to create a written masterpiece right out of the starting gate.

It’s rare when a person can sit at a piano for the first time and play a song. It takes time and practice to learn finger placement and how to read music. It’s just as rare to write a flawless story without making changes—corrections included—the first time it is written.

A person who wants to see you create a better product is willing to be an honest champion of your work. They don’t want to discourage you from writing but encourage you to learn ways that improve your writing skills. That means they will gladly point out all the grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. (This is the editing process). They’ll also point out problems with syntax, character development, plot line, and overall story structure. (That’s a critique.)

Don’t get defensive, don’t make excuses when someone offers you an idea that may potentially help your story. Admit that you should have paid more attention in English classes or used your thesaurus more often. Yes, you may need a thick skin to accept constructive criticism. However, if you’re open to the possibility that others have your best interest at heart and can help make viable improvements to your work, you will create a better story and become a top-notch writer.

You don’t have your work critiqued and edited for yourself—you do it for your reader. If you intend to sell your books, this is the best process you can put your work through. You don’t have to accept all the suggestions, but before you discount them, get the opinion of other readers and see how they react to the changes.

And the end result? A story that will hold your reader’s attention, draw them into the pages rather than kicking them out with every mistake they uncover. A good critique will make your work more attractive to the reader providing them more entertainment value which lead to sales.

The best part is that you will become a more professional writer, eventually putting out material with less mistakes, less need for changes, the first time around. Eventually, constructive criticism will be much easier to accept. In fact, you’ll be welcoming it!

What was your first experience with constructive criticism, be it on your writing or something else important to you?

Critique Commentary

This response was so eloquently written that I asked the author to allow me to post it as an article. ~Carole Avila


by Alan Morrison

To an author, the reader’s mind is a canvas on which written words paint a picture. If done well, the picture will transport the reader from their personal here and now into the place and time of the story. That is the goal of every writer, but it’s never easy to achieve.

A poorly chosen word, an awkward phrase, flawed punctuation; these and other seemingly trivial faults can result in an incomplete or incorrect picture, one that leads a reader astray or, even worse, pulls them out of the magic trance the writer worked so hard to create.

Alan Morrison Quotation - A

The purpose of a critique should be to point out such things for the author to consider and, if they choose, correct or improve on. The critique is not about the author; it’s about the picture the critic sees. By offering a critique, the critic is allowing the writer to look inside their mind and see the picture the words painted.

That’s how we should view critiques, as gifts of insight. Sometimes they hurt, but they always make a writer better, and that’s the point—to constantly improve.

About the author, Alan Morrison:  Farmboy, mathematician, physicist, fighter pilot, computer scientist, college professor, business owner, executive consultant, author, adventurer, and retiree. “I’ve lived an interesting life, and there’s more to come! Thanks for reading my ramblings.”

Constructive Criticism – One of a Writers Greatest Assets

It hurts like a stab to the heart, like being told you’re not good enough. It often feels like a personal attack, yet constructive criticism is one of the most helpful tools in a writer’s arsenal for improving their craft.

Anytime a comment or suggestion is made to improve work that is based on a genuine desire to help write a better story, it needs to be welcomed like a rare gift, because often times it is. One can keep asking family and friends what they think about a story, and they’ll keep saying, “That’s nice,” “It’s really good,” or other vague compliments that do nothing to move the work forward.

Constructive criticism doesn’t always sound positive or feel good yet can’t be taken personally. Knowledgeable comments or suggestions for change will probably make your work better. Someone who offers a good critique shares what works as well as what doesn’t, showing how to flesh out the characters, drive the plot, offer better word choices, improve sentence structure, tighten the narrative, or anything else that serves to make an improvement in a written work.

Quote on Constructive Criticism

Someone may wrongly belittle a hopeful writer, but whatever immature insults are slung at their work have to be disregarded and chalked up to an inferior nature on the part of the unfair critic. If their comments aren’t positive or provide suggestions for positive change in the work, let it go, but know the difference between a person who is being deliberately hurtful or one who is genuine in their desire to be helpful.

Criticism is needed from other writers to get a better feel for the flavor and direction of a story. It’s valuable in predicting the response of the reader. It can develop a thick skin to taunting and slights, only allowing beneficial information to come through and can provide a stronger foundation for the entire manuscript to stand on.

All in all, constructive criticism is a tremendous asset and a necessary tool in the craft of writing.

Constance Hood’s Incredible Debut Novel

Islands of Deceptions CoverIslands of Deception: Lying With the Enemy is an enjoyably consuming novel which hooks the reader from the first sentence all the way to the last. I was often, and easily, brought to the edge of my seat.

Constance Hood delivers a powerful and riveting account of a young man in search of fulfilling his dreams, only to find himself immersed in a world of espionage and intrigue. Although the topic of World War II has been written about time and again, Hood proves her ability to create a savory original and well researched story based on documented events.

Connie HoodThis smooth flowing and provocative novel is filled with engaging descriptions, historical

facts of interest, and highly unexpected twists. Islands of Deception: Lying With the Enemy will provide a reader of any genre with an entirely satisfying reading experience.

Publication date:  January 15, 2018.

The Challenge of Blogging

“Routine” writing, scheduling a time to blog…ugh! That does not fit into going with the flow or writing when creative energy bursts forth at any given moment of the day.

Blogging isn’t as easy as it seems because my heart lies in my books. I can write, edit, and critique for hours on end, into the darkest morning hours. But blogging? Something about it is so much more…demanding.

Blog concept

Committing to a blog is like committing to marriage. It requires dedication, attention, consideration, honest communication, keeping things interesting. That’s a lot of work.

It’s almost safer not to write a blog. With a novel I can take my time–days, weeks, months, even years to craft a great story. But blogs demand weekly, sometimes even daily, devotion. I am a devoted writer, but fall short as a blogger.

So I allowed myself to consider the difference between blogging and all the other writing that I do.

It boils down to that horrible four letter F-word that I despise so much because it has plagued every facet of my life–fear.

Fear says that what I write won’t interest anyone. It tells me I’ll bore my readers, lose the small numbers of followers I’ve managed to gather. I may write something that I’ll regret years later. Fear points an old crooked finger at my inability to commit to a schedule. It reminds me of my lack of responsibility, and many other failings.

I am afraid to consider all the lost opportunities I’ve allowed fear to cause. It has always been my greatest self-imposed road block. Now I’m forced to consider what would happen if I tackled my fear, what security I could lose, what unknowns I could gain. It requires vast amounts of time and energy to break down an iron-walled ego that has tried so hard to protect me. And listing those fears–what a long, long list. (At least I could write it.)

Still, if I face these fears, will I be proving something to myself, or to others? Then I wonder, can fear really be the result of my constantly seeking the approval of others?

Yikes! I’d rather blog.