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NCFM PR Director Steven Svoboda both thumbs up book review, Abuse & Betrayal: The Cautionary True Story of Divorce, Mistakes, Lies, and Legal Abuse.

April 18, 2014

divorceAbuse & Betrayal: The Cautionary True Story of Divorce, Mistakes, Lies, and Legal Abuse. By Richard Joseph. Charleston, South Carolina: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014. 168 pages. $14.95. Available at and the book’s amazon listing can be accessed directly via

The evidently pseudonymous Richard Joseph has written a book that stands out in several regards.  The man had a terrible experience of being a true victim of repeated, gross injustices.  The prime offender was definitely Joseph’s former wife Diane, and the author builds a convincing case that she actually suffered from a diagnosable level of narcissistic personality.  The woman developed a pattern of repeatedly engaging in highly sexual behavior with numerous other adults of virtually every description, including some women who were clearly and repeatedly cheating on their husbands.  (Diane also ended up engaging in similar behavior).  Diane even goes on repeated trips to foreign countries with these people.  Joseph nobly tolerated all this with very little retaliation on his part. Also her behavior toward her own children was so callous as to clearly constitute child abuse in my own view.

Make no mistake though, the man with whom Diane quickly hooks up shared much of the blame, as he cooperates with his new partner to alienate Joseph’s two daughters in a way that appears irreparable.  Joseph is not really prone to self-pity, exaggeration of his plight, nor to unjustified blaming of others.  He really comes across as a likable, grounded, pretty miraculously balanced individual that the reader can both trust and like.

Repeatedly, even in situations where his wrongdoing was dwarfed by the crimes of others, Joseph draws lessons for himself and potentially for the reader of how he might have more effectively addressed problems and responded to challenges.  Once or twice, he does really lose his self-control, and while no reader is necessarily going to feel he or she could have done a lick better (I’m almost certain I would have done worse), still Joseph is correct that this was not ideal on his part.

As a father of two myself, I can for example deeply empathize with the pain of finding out after the fact about a play in which both his daughters acted about which he was not even told.  One fortunate circumstance that Joseph enjoyed amidst all the trouble was an almost miraculously sympathetic and helpful counselor that he was regularly seeing.  Also the author’s situation would probably have been even worse apart from the fact that Joseph is a highly compensated self-employed consultant (in marketing) and thus able to financially cover the predictably huge costs of all the problems.  At the same time, despite some truly admirable generosity, he also got “stuck” with an unfairly high percentage of the bills, so even this proved a bit of a mixed blessing.

One sobering aspect of this sordid (through no fault of the author’s) saga is the dismal role that institutions played that by rights should have been watching out for such abuses and striving to ameliorate them if not to prevent them.  Diane’s behavior was so outrageous that the majority of the police officers in town sided with Joseph, though no doubt partly for reasons of political correctness, found themselves compelled to downplay their support of him.  Unfortunately, one officer was willing to more or less do anything that Diane asked of him.  And sadly, the courts and other bureaucracies basically made the situation worse rather than helping correct it by siding with Diane and even in one particularly egregious story, jailing Joseph.

Another equally troubling aspect of the whole chain of events is how pernicious parental alienation syndrome (PAS) really can be.  No matter how strong one parent’s connection with his children, that bond can eventually be broken by a sufficiently persistent, malevolent second parent with primary access to the kids who pounds away day after day, year after year.  That is the truly sobering message.

Amidst all the woeful stories, Joseph maintains an authorial tone that doesn’t make light of his plight but also manages not to get overly bogged down in the trauma of it all.  This represents an admirable balancing act and one that is not at all easy to pull off both from an emotional perspective as well as in terms of the craft of writing.  For this, as for the overall achievement of this short yet highly admirable and unique book, the author has amply earned his right to three rousing cheers of congratulations.  Most of all, however, he deserves for every one of us to go to amazon or, order his book, read it, and tell our friends about it.  It is truly an eminently worthwhile read.  Whether you do the math by the page, by the reading minute, or by the dollar, Richard Joseph and Abuse & Betrayal offer top notch value and insight.

divorceContentious divorces are horrific.

Especially when the contentious divorce is propelled by a pathological liar.

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