Saving Beauty From the Beast

Saving Beauty From the Beast: How to Protect Your Daughter from an Unhealthy Relationship Vicki Crompton, Ellen Zelda Kessner (Little Brown & Company, 2003)Order

After her teenage daughter was killed by a boyfriend in 1986, Crompton set out to educate the public about teen dating violence. Along the way, she met magazine writer Kessner, whose own daughter had been murdered as an adult. This earnest, impassioned book, a product of their friendship and collaboration, illuminates the problems of dangerous relationships by describing their characteristics, mapping out warning signs of abuse and offering sound advice for parents seeking to empower their daughters. The authors interviewed psychologists, counselors and girls who have had violent boyfriends; the girls’ stories, as well as first-person accounts from parents and abusive boyfriends, are woven throughout the text. Many of the stories are heartbreaking: Vasso’s boyfriend put her in a coma for six months when he tried to strangle her; the father of Kaisha’s child beat her repeatedly and ultimately raped her. Crompton and Kessner are at their best when giving specific guidance to parents, such how to spot boyfriends who are too controlling and telltale changes in girls’ behavior, as well as how to help daughters plan safe breakups from violent boys. As social science, the book is weaker. Some of the authors’ statements-like the claim that “many” girls are becoming victims of violence “earlier and earlier” in relationships, or that for most teens, abuse is a “dating fact of life”-beg for supporting numbers. But whether or not the phenomenon is on the rise matters little when such abuse exists, and this book serves as both fervent friend and practical coach to parents whose daughters may be facing abuse.