Dad of Divas' Reviews: Book Review - Memories of Hell, Visions of Heaven

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Book Review - Memories of Hell, Visions of Heaven

Esther Joseph doesn’t need to read studies or statistics to understand the problems of child abuse. She survived it.

Joseph, an advocate against corporal punishment in the home, spent her childhood alternately suffering physical abuse from her mother and emotional abuse from her father. But she doesn’t consider herself a victim.

“I’m a survivor of child abuse,” said Joseph, author of Memories of Hell, Visions of Heaven—A Story of Survival Transformation and Hope ( “In overcoming the damage of an upbringing riddled with violence, I was adamant that I would not grow up to be an abuser, as well. I know the dangers of striking a child to discipline them and then explaining that you’re doing it for their own good and because you love them. All that does is teach the child that violence is an acceptable part of love, and as they grow up, they accept violence in their adult relationships because they’ve been taught that it’s completely normal.”

Joseph believes that discipline is important, but that it can be delivered without making violence an acceptable part of life.

“No matter how out of control a child may be considered, a beating is never an effective way to get their attention, obedience or respect,” she added. “Parents must understand that there are other disciplinary measures, less violent and degrading methods that will garner the results they seek, while raising children to become emotional health and fulfilled adults.”

Joseph offered a few simple tips for alternative means of helping children behave. They include:

  • Be a Good Example – Parents must live by example, allowing their actions and not just their words to exemplify the kind of person they would like their child to become.
  • Be One Step Ahead – Don’t wait until your child has done something “wrong” to have a talk with them. Parents can circumvent many foreseeable challenges by addressing them before they become an issue.
  • Be Creative – One type of punishment does not work for every child. Parents must figure out and utilize a form of reprimand that would work best for their child’s particular temperament.

“Every spanking, no matter how mild, has an impact,” Joseph said. “Parents should be aware that a spanked child becomes a emotionally crippled adult who goes out into the world and plays this handicap onto others, perpetuating the idea that abusive relationships are just a normal part of life. Now, I understand that people justify it by thinking, ‘I was spanked as a child and I turned out okay,’ but that equation doesn’t work for everyone. When we begin to justify violence as a part of our children’s lives, it becomes a slippery slope when we try to determine how much is too much? A spanking every once in a while? Using a belt or a hairbrush instead of a hand if a child is really misbehaving? At what point do you say it’s too much? The bottom line is that once is too much, because it makes a second, third and 20th time that much easier to rationalize. But for those who have been abused, no matter their pasts, it does not define them nor does it determine their future. Everyone can break the bonds of their past experiences and find their way to the life and future they crave.”

About Esther Joseph

Esther Joseph was born and raised on the tiny Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. She moved to the U.S. at the age of 16 with her mother and two older bothers. She holds a Master’s Degree in international affairs from New York University. Her goal is to help others still in the grips of abuse and violence to break the cycle and find a way to a place of healing.

My Take on the BookThis book was a compelling read and one that I found to be quite inspirational. You can read though the pages of this book the struggle that the author endured growing up. The book is at its best when the author bears her soul and there are many examples of this throughout the book and I have to say that as a reader you are given a vivid panorama of her life, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

She gives many compelling arguments for not spanking your child and shows her own experiences as ones that have scarred her deeply. I know that as a parent myself, it is sometimes hard to figure out how best to discipline your child, and for some, they do choose spanking to assist with this. I have heard many arguments for and against and this book is firmly on the latter. 

Overall, this book was a strong read and is one that no matter what you believe about spanking, you will find to be one you will not want to put down. 

All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Disclaimer  for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

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