Thank you so much, Jennifer for inviting me to appear on your blog today. I am in constant awe of the things you do to raise awareness of domestic violence and it’s an honour to be here today sharing my article.

Last October, my debut novel, ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’ was published with Crooked Cat Books. As we approach my book’s first birthday, its message is as strong and noteworthy as it has ever been:

Domestic violence is NOT a one-size-fits-all thing.

It comes in many guises, and if we are not careful, it’s easy to miss them altogether, to brush them off as nothing, coincidence, a figment of our imagination.

But first a little backstory, if I may, courtesy of my book’s blurb:

Kate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.

Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation.

Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.

And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…

But will she escape before it’s too late?

Contrary to the way domestic violence is often portrayed…
Many victims (men, as well as women) are living a double life. And I don’t just mean a double life in terms of masking what is going on behind closed doors and acting ‘normally’ in front of family and friends, work colleagues and acquaintances; I mean a full-on, in your face Double Life that would suggest their entire life is Just Perfect in every single way. I know because I have been there. That’s why it was so easy, and so important, to write Kate Clothier’s story, to hopefully help others recognise their mirror image, to hopefully inspire them to wake up, smell the coffee and get the hell out.

We need only look at high profile cases of DV to see this.
And here I mention no names, but there have been numerous accounts of the relationships of the rich and famous taking on a very different nature once the front door is slammed shut and the luxury velvet curtains drawn tight. From actors to pop icons, chefs to politicians, no stone is left unturned when it comes to physical and mental abuse. No amount of money or privileged upbringing can act as a harbour.

A violent partner isn’t violent all of the time.
One of the biggest myths when it comes to DV is that an abusive other half is constantly on the attack, be it with belittling words or fists. The reality is nothing could be further from the truth (although of course, I acknowledge in some cases, the violence can be incessant). Understandably, this makes it harder for somebody like Kate to flee. The ego will come up with excuses, many ridiculously ‘plausible’. In Kate’s case, antagonist Daniel might lob a plate of food at her across the kitchen… just a couple of times a year because he expected meat and two veg instead of salad, or pinch her calf beneath the shield of the table cloth whilst tucking into Sunday dinner with her parents in quiet response to her announcement she is off on another business trip… but only because he will ‘miss her so much’ and only once in a blue moon. The perpetrator might take to ‘gas-lighting’, enervating the diminishing self-esteem of their prey slowly but surely. Subtle manipulation is another tactic, all too oft employed like a wolf in sheep’s clothing; in particular the perpetrator might threaten to take their own life if the victim as much as hints that they will leave. Indeed the abusive mind is a labyrinth, diverting to avoid dead ends, twisting and turning until its goal of ultimate control has been achieved.

Domestic violence has no ETA.
Unlike the precious cargoes of books Kate sells to her overseas clients for her living, Daniel’s unpredictability can be viewed as equally damaging as any constant lashing out. Kate is perpetually stepping on egg shells; she’s flighty and nervous, full of procrastination and self-doubt. Her perpetrator is King of keeping her right where he wants her: unsure and terrified, less likely to leave him, more likely to stay.

Ultimately though, we need to get to the root cause of victimisation.
Here’s where I’m more than aware that ‘Pavlova’ could cause a little Marmite Divide; for this is a novel which dares not only to straddle genres, but to inject a little humour into the proceedings. And take it from me: comedy is one essential coping mechanism in any abusive relationship. No, not in the heart of any action, but as a general means of self-preservation, as a diversion from the hell that is daily life.

However, being self-aware of what is going on is one thing, understanding the spiritual journey we took to get there is quite another. Yet, it’s the only way to bring permanent change into our lives. There’s an intricate chemical reaction going on between the abused and the abuser. Until we address that with empathy, for both sides, we’ll keep on repeating the pattern – in all areas of life. This is my take on the subject anyway. It won’t sit well with everybody, but it is high time we delved deeper, unwrapped the layers of the onion to see what is at the heart of the things projecting out before us. If my words help just one person to do that, they’ll have been worth the blood, sweat and tears.

And that’s as much as I’m going to say about that. To find out more, you’ll just have to read the book!

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing.

Oh! What a Pavlova is her debut novel. Her second novel, The Cocktail Bar, was published in February this year… and in September, her third book, Costa del Churros will be released.

You can follow Isabella May on her website and social media here:

Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks

Facebook –

Instagram – @isabella_may_author


I want to say a big thank you to Isabella May for joining me on my blog today and for being a support and friend since we first connected over a year ago. I have reviewed The Cocktail Bar which is Isabella’s second publication and still yet to read Oh What A Pavlova but I promise to share my thoughts of her highly recommended book as soon as it is completed.

Don't miss out on any of my blog posts or book reviews by following my blog via the right hand column. 


  1. Linda Strader

    Thanks for sharing, Isabella! I’ve been there, heard the excuses, stayed for way too long thinking he would change. When I divorced after 23 years of marriage, I wondered if I was doing the right thing. After all…it wasn’t always bad. I still struggle with that, but maybe now I can let it go. I did the right thing.

    • Isabella May

      You absolutely did, Linda! It takes a lot of will and courage to escape a marriage – and a long one at that. I’m so pleased to hear you got out though. It’s a long road to letting go of it all, it takes a while to process but be gentle on yourself, we are many in the same boat and all here for one another. I get the occasional flashback now, or bad dream, and I left coming up to 14 years ago (after a 10 year relationship from the age of 17-27) xx

  2. Emma

    Another great post Jennifer. I know from experience what you are saying. My step Dad was cruel, abusive and violent but on the other hand could be extremely funny and caring. In fact the Nasty side of it occurred only 20/30% of the time. But it is so powerful in the way is destructs that it doesn’t take much to make such an impact.

    • Isabella May

      Thanks, Emma. This is what makes it so hard, isn’t it? That whole Jekyll and Hyde personality which makes you question your fear and your own behaviour. I hope you are in a safe place now xx

  3. Lexi

    Powerfully written Isabella. Thanks

  4. Mai Taylor

    Great post Isabella. I read Oh What A Pavlova earlier this year, and it really brought to light for me the double lives that victims of domestic abuse can have.

    • Isabella May

      Thanks, Mai. This is so encouraging to hear as it’s exactly what I was aiming for with the book 🙂

  5. Jackie

    Great post Jennifer. When I read your posts, I’m always amazed, it’s as if you can read my mind, my past. What you are saying is very real.

    • Isabella May

      Thank you, Jackie. I’m pleased (and equally not pleased!) it resonated xx

  6. Bernadette Troth

    I really enjoyed reading this article, Isabella – thank you. I’d not thought about it so directly before. My first husband only had to be outwardly abusive occasionally to keep me in line. I’d been brought up in a very abusive household, so I knew no different. We were together 14 years – married for seven years and I think he ‘only’ hit me about five times, and he ‘only’ had to tell me a couple of times how difficult he found it when I went out with friends without him … and I stopped going. He wasn’t always bad – but then I always towed the line to ensure I was safe. I’m so glad people are starting to talk about abuse more and more – education has to be key.

    • Isabella May

      Thanks Bernadette! I am so glad you escaped 🙂 You are right, education is definitely the key. I know if I’d been given even a little info on these kind of relationships when I was at high school, I’d have spotted the red flags way quicker…

  7. Isabella May

    Thank you all so much for your comments! I’m sorry I didn’t reply sooner but we had a bit of a crisis Sunday night when a beast of a fire (here in Spain) meant we had to evacuate our home… all safe and sound now (was a very close call!), but we have only just had power restored – hence the delay. Here’s to all of us being aware of the signs of DV – there truly are so many – and staying empowered.
    A BIG thank you again to Jennifer for hosting me xx

  8. Kate Kenzie

    Great post and so true. My childhood was perfect in so many ways and seen as such by many but the bad side had an effect that lasts a life time xxx



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