My thanks to Shelly Marshall for stopping by Tribute Books Mama and sharing her thoughts about her book, Respect-Me Rules.
ABOUT SHELLY: Shelly Marshall has dedicated her entire life to working with young addicts. Her books Day by Day and Young, Sober, & Free are recovery classics which have been joined by her very popular 24/7 recovery support book, the Pocket Sponsor. Her research in adolescent recovery has been published in five international journals making her world-recognized in the addiction's field. In addition to teaching counselor's how to work with young people in recovery, Ms. Marshall is the Russian Charity NAN (No to Alcohol and Drug Addiction) Foundation's representative to the United Nations. She is currently working on a first response manual for parents who need answers, not accusations, on meeting their child’s drug crisis.
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1. How did you come up with the title?
It naturally flowed from our 12 abuse-stopping rules. The crux of them all is to demand to be treated respectfully by our life partners. Or anyone else for that matter.
2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. We call it the Miracle Principle. It empowers the abusee. It essentially says that no one can continue to abuse you without your consent. Abuse in a relationship is like a dance. If one partner decides not to dance, the dance ends.
This is not to say we think our techniques are easy—allowing abuse is usually a gradual process. We are told to “be nice” and “get along” and women are often trained that they are responsible for holding their relationships together. Often abuse creeps up on you—every time you are “nice” when they are being mean, they push the envelop just that much more the next time. Soon the abuse is a lot worse then you realize, similar to putting the frog in the boiling water—do it when the water is cold and the frog doesn’t notice that it’s slowly boiling to death. So our message is to understand first that a target has to recognize how far it’s gone and next to understand that by not stopping it, they allowed it to get worse. But please don’t take this to mean we in any “blame” the target. They, like the frog, most assuredly didn’t see it coming.
3. How much of the book is realistic?
We actually put this book together because we didn’t see much “realistic” work out there to help women and men being bullied by their partners. Although there were a few groundbreaking authors that brought the reality of verbal and emotional abuse to the forefront, the techniques offered to change the situations were lacking. They either told partners to get the heck out of Dodge, it would never get better, or techniques offered were not in a cohesive whole—as an entire way of thinking about the situation to change it. You see, you can never change them. It is their job—you can only change yourself. So any solution that has a partner trying to change them to make them stop is not going to work. You can only change yourself. Changing yourself to not allow abuse from them is a different approach. The person may still be an abuser, but they will not abuse you if you use these techniques. The abuse stopping techniques we provide are relatively clear, simple, and psychologically sound.
4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
A book is a never-ending project. We have already started a list of points that need to be stated more clearly in the next edition. There’s also some new research that backs up the position we espouse regarding the way people treat you—it has to do with posture and the way we carry ourselves contributing to how people treat us. You can find the research and discussions on our Respect-me RULES blog. We will also add some new material in subsequent editions that is worthwhile, as well as reader feedback that offers some good suggestions for improvement.
5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Getting started. Dr. Mike and I talked about writing this book for 10 years before we ever started. We kept waiting to find the time. When we realized we would never have any spare time left over in our demanding lives, Dr. Mike finally took a sabbatical to write this book and I write full time anyway, so it accommodated my schedule. We dedicated ourselves to this project. We had our web site and free tutorial up for 7 of those years and of course we both have a lot of experience working with abused partners—so it finally came together.
6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
We learned lots of things in researching the book topic. Many others have addressed this topic in previous books and on-line websites. Our goal was to take the information that was already available out there and distill it to its essence so we could present it in one easy to understand and handy source. We also processed a lot of the old information and presented it in a new and dynamic way that we believe is more engaging and user friendly to the reader.
And not to discredit the courageous people whose work we built ours on, but we emphasize the personal responsibility absolutely necessary in order to break and change the patterns of abuse. This has not been done before to this degree. We do not spend much time on the abuser because we know that changing him isn’t the answer—the answer lies with the target and what they will or will not allow in their lives by the choices they make and consequences they enforce at each juncture.
7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Writing runs in our family. Every family member is a published author. It must be a combination of genes and environment. Dr. Mike and I began writing together when I was doing research on adolescent addiction recovery. We actually had 4 papers published together in peer reviewed journals. Dr. Mike's first book, Why Spanking Doesn’t Work, was published 9 years ago, and I'm a well-known Hazelden author on addiction recovery. Our father, Don Marshal wrote some very successful books on shipwrecks along the west coat. He also wrote an autobiography about his experiences in WWII, Alligator Marines. Our mother had a column in the local paper for some years and wrote two booklets about living on the high desert. Our brother from Alaska, Chris, has been published throughout Alaska regarding Arctic lifestyles and local politics. In addition, my daughter is a very successful children’s author best known for the Bear Snores On series.
I would say we were born with this talent.
8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My hero in psychological writing is Abraham Maslow because of his emphasis on free will, the positive, and the possible, rather than fate and fatalism.
Dr. Mike doesn't really get a chance to do much recreational reading, being that he's somewhat of a workaholic. So his reading usually has to do with his work in psychology. Since he is a forensic psychologist, a particular body of work that stands out to him is that of Stanton Samenow, who studied the sociopathic mind.
9. Tell us your latest news.
We are just about to launch a revised online workshop in abusive relationships and implementing the Respect-me RULES. For anyone who completes the entire tutorial, we offer a Certificate of Completion. It’s a practical way to learn the lessons in conjunction with the book—it gives a hands on approach to changing the old mindset of helpless victim to one of empowered target. The workshop is free to anyone. The first section of the tutorial can be started immediately. The second half of the online tutorial is designed to be used in conjunction with our book.
10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
We ask abusees to start thinking about what they are doing that allows themselves to continue to be a target. You can change your relationship—you don’t have to leave your partner if you don’t want to but you also don’t have to sit still for target practice any longer.
To all those who would like to receive a free bookmark for Respect-Me Rules, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT RESPECT-ME RULES: That's the message the Marshalls want to convey to the abused. Through their proven Respect-Me method, they teach targets of abuse to change their mind-set, turn away from the role of the victim, and regain the power to restore their self-respect and take control of their lives.
Understand Abuse Patterns and Cycles
Choose the Right Support Group
Spot an Abuser on the First Date
The Marshalls' expert advice will empower you as they draw upon their own experiences and share new insights. With Respect-Me Rules at your side, you'll find the strength you need to improve your relationships and demand the respect you deserve.
For more information on Shelly and Respect-Me Rules, please visit Respect-Me Rules blog.
Congratulations to our winner: Linda Kish!