Opening the Door from Inside

Opening the Door From Inside examines how women become trapped in abusive relationships and what they can do to extricate themselves, safely and on their own terms. Although it focusses on female victims of domestic violence it is just as relevant for male victims. Also, perpetrators who are looking to understand and change the way they relate to women may find it a valuable resource.

This book covers the theory and dynamics underpinning abusive relationships

and sets out a practical, action-oriented approach where the abused woman

learns when it’s safe to open the door and speak out and how to change the

destructive circumstances of her life, one vital step at a time.

It offers guidelines for abused women, friends and families and the helping

professions by:

  • Identifying how women get stuck

  • Empowering and guiding them as to how to change their life circumstances

  • Teaching them to identify abusive behaviours and to recognise danger signs

  • Learning to recognise psychopathic abusers

  • Presenting clear guidance about making healthier relationship choices


This book also addresses some of the struggles professional counsellors face when working in this difficult field along with those connected by kinship or friendship to the abused person. The question of ‘how to help’ their clients is explored.

Opening the Door From Inside is a distillation of Robin’s extensive work into domestic violence. What makes it unique is her broadly based practice of working with both male perpetrators and female victims and her recognition of the opportunities for change that women themselves can put into practice.

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1.     The Iceberg

2.     The Cycle of Violence

3.     Lessons From Women’s Groups—Part 1 – How women get stuck

4.     Lessons From Women’s Groups—Part 2 – What Gets Women Bogged Down

5.     Lessons From Men’s Groups—How to identify an abusive partner

6.     Psychopathic Abusers—How to recognise them    



7.     The Cycle of Violence—When to interrupt the cycle

8.     Controlling Tactics—Part 1 – How to challenge safely

9.     Controlling Tactics—Part 2 – Other behaviours women need to challenge

10.   Being Stronger and Smarter—Finding your voice again

11.    Getting Out and Staying Out—You decide if and when

12.    Seeking Help



13.   How Professionals Can Help

14.   How Friends and Family Can Help

15.   How To Check Men Out—Choosing a partner is serious business

Appendix A





Unfortunately for abused women, their partners often put a wedge between her and the people she depends on for social support by either badmouthing those who support her or badmouthing her behind her back.

Before women can effect positive change in their levels of vulnerability they will need to identify the particular tactics used by their partners. When these tactics are understood and identified, strategies can be put in place to counteract them. This will reduce the damaging psychological effects of abuse.

  • Disempower the criticiser. Instead of getting upset or being defensive you could benignly agree with him and say: “yes, I am like that” or “yes, I do that”. You may even find that the criticism loses its sting.


  • Stop explaining and justifying. . . . . .You are an adult and you don’t need his approval. If you can accept that then you can begin to slowly turn things around.


Women report being afraid to try something different in case this angers the abuser and their situation gets worse than ever. It is crucial that women experiment with change—taking one baby step at a time but only when it is a safe time to do so. This is very important. 

It is better to leave a relationship from a position of personal strength than one of hopelessness and defeat. Nor is there any rush (unless your life is in immediate danger).

If you are certain that separation is right for you it is absolutely crucial that you hold in your head—all the time—the reason you wanted to get away.

The more control you exercise over your personal circumstances the less stress you will feel and the less stress-related mental and physical illnesses you will experience. As you increase your personal agency you will feel stronger and more empowered, whereas feeling helpless will only make you want to give up and your strength will ebb away. The important thing is to act on your own behalf with your own best interests in mind.

If you want to make a good choice of partner then you need to learn how to assess men. Getting away from an abusive partner is difficult but getting into a relationship with the same sort of partner is easy.



Thank you for your book, I am sure there will be so many people who will finally have some validation. Your book gave me so much validation, more than what I got in Adelaide when I paid for a top therapist which cost me 375.00 per session. He told us we should separate. Abuse needs to stop and therapists need to be more up to date.

Tania Thompson – January 3rd, 2018

I was drawn to this book as a professional working in the marital therapy field. The book offers a clear pathway to women seeking to; understand, to leave, or to make changes in their abusive relationships.

The author takes the reader on a no-nonsense narrative through her own personal and professional experience with domestic violence.

The author also helps the reader to identify if her partner is a psychopathic abuser and outlines the inherent dangers that they face with these dangerous perpetrators. The comprehensive explanation on the cycle of violence that is outlined in the book has the potential to save lives.

However the most compelling aspect of the book is how it sensitively documents the process of women getting stuck in abusive relationships. The author helps women to understand the processes at play and how they can start to safely and slowly disentangle themselves from the manipulation and abuse.

I highly recommend this book to both professionals and victims of domestic violence.

Dr. Monique Cohenka – October 25, 2017

"I am so impressed with this book. There is a balance of professional wisdom drawn from research, life and counselling experience, and an empathy that will ensure women feel respected and understood. I’m not sure that anyone else has confirmed how extraordinarily difficult it is to extricate oneself from an abusive relationship in such a way.

This book is excellently laid out and very helpful in its movement from general, important concepts to detailed and practical advice. The diagrams are clear, relevant and well positioned and I love the quotes above each chapter. I think the footnotes are there without being intrusive and give a choice to the reader by modelling the message that a woman can get to the stage of making choices.

The author is not anti men per se—and this matters. She points out that some counselling isn’t helpful (true!) and is realistic about the limitations of what shelters can offer. I think that her self-revelation is timely; it adds to the professionalism through its restraint and relevance.

This is the fruition of knowledge gained through the author’s life and work. It is both wise and practical."

Margaret Hill – October 31, 2016

This might end up being an extraordinary book for women (and men) who are struggling as victims to recognise and understand how they’ve become so stuck in patterns of ongoing abuse/violence perpetrated by their partners. It might also be very helpful for family members and friends of both victims and perpetrators who may be concerned about suspected domestic violence but don’t know how to help; and for professionals who work with victims and/or perpetrators and are looking to increase their understanding of domestic violence. It might even end up being an an extraordinary resource for some perpetrators: those who have some capacity to empathise with their partners and are deeply disturbed and ashamed about their ongoing abusive behaviours yet have no idea of the corrosive effects of the abuse on their partners nor the insidiousness of the cycle of violence that has become established within their relationships.

The book demonstrates the author’s deep understanding of, and empathy with, the victims of domestic violence. It provides meaningful insights into the dynamics underlying abusive relationships, including the way victims become entrapped, isolated and disempowered as a result of the abuse. It also provides tools to enable victims to assess their particular situations very carefully, and undertake thoughtful strategic interventions that will maximise their safety while working out the best way forward for them.

It is, in my view, a well informed and respectful resource that I think will provide practical assistance to those directly involved in abusive relationships and also those working to confront and deal with the domestic violence they identify amongst their family/friends/clients.

Judy Leitch – November 7, 2016

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