A Necessary Book for Every Pastor, Leader & Counselor

Published on September 17, 2020 by Benjamin J. Montoya

P & R Publishing, 2020 | 360 pages

“A Book I Want People to Read BEFORE They Need It”


About the Book:

God does not intend for marriage to be a place of oppression. Providing practical tools and exercises, biblical counselor Darby Strickland prepares potential helpers to pick up on cues that could point to abuse and investigate them wisely. You will learn how to identify a range of abusive behavior and better understand the impact of abuse on victims–particularly wives. Ultimately, you will become equipped to provide wise and Christ-centered counsel while navigating a difficult and complex situation.


About the Author:

Darby Strickland has a Master of Divinity degree in Counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bio-psychology from the University of Chicago. She has been doing formal counseling for over a decade. In addition to serving as a missionary to Northern Ireland for two years, she has also supported the ministry of the church as a speaker at women’s retreats, bible study teacher, and support group leader. While focused on marriage and family counseling, Darby has a special interest in working with abused and developmentally delayed children. She and her husband, John, have three young children. Her hobbies include photography, swimming, reading, and word games.



“This book comes at an important time. The world is increasingly concerned about the vulnerable and oppressed, and the church is seeing anew that our God has this group so deeply on his heart. What a gift for us to be able to see more clearly those whom God sees—and then, together, to have the enviable task of working out the specifics of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.”

Edward T. Welch

Counselor and Faculty Member, CCEF; Author, Created to Draw Near

“Life in this broken world is littered with things we hope we’ll never have to actually need. Seatbelts. CPR training. Fire extinguishers. Those oxygen masks that pop down from the ceiling of airplanes. I’ve been flying since I was 3 weeks old and have never been on a flight that lost cabin pressure. But imagine the panic if the captain announced before take off, “well folks, our oxygen masks aren’t working today, but we’re going to push back anyway.” Darby’s book is one of these sad necessities this side of heaven. Cars and planes crash. Fire spreads out of control. Abuse will happen in your church, if it’s not already. Is it Abuse? is a comprehensive manual that can be pulled off the shelf and put immediately into action, or better yet, studied before it’s needed. We read this book together as a team, and prayerfully urge you to equip yourself with this resource before your next “flight” into ministry.”

Josiah Pettit

Director, Westminster Bookstore

“Is it Abuse? is a stunning work. It is brave without being incendiary. It is carefully and thoroughly biblical. It is relentlessly practical. Yet Strickland also steadfastly avoids the traps of oversimplifying either the problem or the solution. Speaking from a wealth of experience, this book is for oppressed spouses and those trying to intervene redemptively in abusive marriages on behalf of Christ. If you ever read a book about abuse in couples, let it be this one.”

Alasdair Groves

Executive Director, Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation

“Darby’s work in understanding abuse, it’s power structure, and its wounds provides critical help to victims, and those walking alongside them. Is it Abuse? Equips pastors and all of us, to identify abuse in its various insidious forms, and then be equipped with the knowledge and skills to help victims find freedom, hope and healing. This resource and the wisdom it provides, is integral to pastoral ministry, and indeed to everyone who is ready to speak for the oppressed and cry out for justice. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”

Rachael Denhollander

Speaker; Author; Victim Advocate

“The presence of oppressive marriages in the church is grievous. We must take notice. The road of caring for souls in oppressive marriages is long and painful. We cannot be timid or impatient. With the grace, mercy, and compassion of Christ, we need to intervene. There are words of redemption to speak and works of redemption to do. There are serious obstacles to overcome. We need wisdom. We need biblical, practical resources. I praise God that Darby Strickland has written such a resource. Is It Abuse? A Biblical Guide to Identifying Domestic Abuse and Helping Victims belongs on the shelf of every pastor and church leader.”

John Henderson

author of Abuse: Finding Hope in Christ and Catching Foxes

“Darby’s materials are always ranked #1 on my list of resources for understanding and addressing abuse! Through church-wide conferences, specific leadership training, and her written and online materials, Darby’s faithfully biblical insight and expertise have provided solid guidance for our church as we have stepped deeply into this crucial ministry to brokenness and need. I welcome Is It Abuse? gratefully and enthusiastically.”

Joan McConnell

Women’s Ministry and Counseling, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Lancaster, PA

“Darby Strickland has written an exceptionally helpful, winsome, and authoritative resource that should be required reading for all helpers in the church. Rather than giving a simplistic line-in-the-sand answer to the question, “Is it abuse?,” she builds carefully upon Scripture and her years of counseling experience to explore the heart of abuse and its many horrific manifestations in ways that equip readers to discern when oppression is occurring and how to move forward with wise, compassionate care of victims. As an elder and counselor, I found Darby’s approach to this complex and heart-rending issue immensely clarifying and seasoned with wisdom that I can use immediately in my pastoral care of others. I pray this important book will enjoy a very wide readership within the church.”

Michael Emlet

M.Div., M.D., Dean of Faculty and Counselor, Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation; author of CrossTalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet and Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications.

“Darby has gifted God’s people with a well-researched and Biblical manual on marital abuse. She deftly equips counselors, pastors and caring leaders to navigate through the difficult and often confusing narrative surrounding what’s wrong, and what to do. Step by step she demonstrates what to listen for and how to make sense of conflicting information. Her chapter on the entitled thinking of the oppressor will help you understand why abuse is not a marriage problem, but a problem inside the heart and mind of the oppressor that must be addressed before any true marital healing can take place.”

Leslie Vernick

coach, speaker and author of The Emotionally Destructive Marriage and The Emotionally Destructive Relationship.

“For the pastor, leader, or counselor, there are few issues like abuse which can seem more perplexing and confusing. That is why I am grateful for Darby Strickland’s most helpful book, Is It Abuse? Darby strikes the difficult balance of being clear, compassionate, as well as comprehensive covering an impressive amount of content related to abuse. I have not come across another resource like it which is as thoroughly biblical, yet imminently practical. If you find yourself in a helping role of any kind, this book should be required reading. You will read it and weep for those who are and have been oppressed, but also rejoice in the comfort and encouragement of gospel hope.”

Jonathan Holmes

Executive Director, Fieldstone Counseling; Pastor of Counseling, Parkside Church; author of Counsel for Couples

“I love this book! I don’t know of another written from a biblical perspective that provides such an accurate and comprehensive description of the dynamics of domestic abuse. For two decades my top recommendation to pastors and counselors seeking to understand these dynamics has been a secular book, simply because it touched on the many subtleties of abuse that most Christian resources lack. However, I believe this book provides what has been missing in our circles—an in-depth resource that will truly help equip God’s people to better understand and respond to a problem that is ever-present in our churches. I am particularly grateful for Darby’s thorough description of the impacts of spiritual abuse and the effects of domestic violence on children. Far too few resources touch on these important topics, but they have not escaped our Savior’s notice, and I believe he will use this book to help awaken the church to the plight of his children who are being oppressed in their homes. Is it Abuse? is an absolute gem, and I plan to recommend it often!”

Joy Forrest

Founder & Executive Director, Called to Peace Ministries

“This is a significant book which raises and answers an extremely important question for counselors and church leaders, “Is it abuse?” Too often we have gotten the answer wrong by failing to recognize oppression and to protect victims. The author is also careful to help us to avoid another wrong answer which would be to falsely label ordinary marital sin struggles as abusive. She employs her wealth of knowledge and experience as she helps us to accurately identify different categories of habitual oppressive behavior (abuse). She then wisely shows us how to offer compassionate biblical help to victims. I especially appreciate how she faithfully applies Scripture throughout, how she carefully addresses delicate issues, how she fearlessly confronts sin and how she encourages the involvement of the local church.”

Jim Newheiser

Director of the Christian Counseling Program, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte; Executive Director IBCD; author of Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

“Darby has served the church well by answering what seems like it would be a straightforward question: Is It Abuse? But if you’ve experienced abuse or walked alongside someone who is experiencing abuse, you know a fog of confusion surrounds this question. Don’t wait for a crisis near you to read this book. If you read this book before you need it, you will be grateful… and so will the person who is reaching out to you for guidance.”

Brad Hambrick

Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church and general editor for Becoming a Church That Cares Well for the Abused.

“Is it Abuse? is a wonderful addition to the growing library of Biblical resources regarding domestic abuse. Through clear language, real life examples, and biblically-informed responses Darby Strickland has given the church the clearest and most complete work on understanding the dynamics and impact of abuse to date. This work is the first book pastors and Biblical counselors should read on their journey to understanding domestic abuse.”

Chris Moles

Author of The Heart of Domestic Abuse: Gospel Solutions for Men Who Use Violence and Control and Violence in the Home

“Gospel rich, well written, and chock-full of practical wisdom. Darby Strickland is a gift to the church.”

Jason Meyer

Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis

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P & R Publishing, 2020 | 360 pages

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