Book Review: Invincible

The 10 Lies You Learn Growing Up With Domestic Violence, & the Truths to Set You Free

Author: Brian F. Martin
Publisher: Penguin Group
Book Publication: 2014

“Over the past three decades, I have trained more than four million people, sharing with them many intimate details about my life. However, I have never shared the fact that I was a child of domestic violence. And, if I had not met Brian Martin, I don’t know if I would have.” – Tony Robbins

Even more shocking than the quote above from a renowned motivational public speaker is this: “Research shows that, in the U.S. alone, 40 million adults grew up living with domestic violence. Five million children are growing up with it today, yet there is less than a 10% awareness of this issue. According to UNICEF, this is one of the most pervasive human rights issues of our time, as it has a powerful, profound impact on countless lives.”

The author of Invincible: The 10 Lies You Learn Growing Up With Domestic Violence, Brian Martin, speaks with the authority and wisdom that only experience can provide. Having grown up with domestic violence, Martin founded Children of Domestic Violence (*CDV) in 2007 – an international organization “dedicated to connecting and supporting those who have experienced and lived with domestic violence.” Invincible represents his effort to create an awareness and understanding of this issue, the hope being to inform and inspire those who grew up with domestic violence, and those who share their lives – loved ones, friends, co-workers.

The tools that Martin uses to educate include personal and compelling first-hand stories, including his own. He also provides helpful commentary throughout the book, as well as insights based on the most recent social science research and psychology. One story he shares is Jeremy’s, which provides a deep look into, and an understanding of, the generational aspect of this issue – the tragedy that has each generation of abused child visiting the same abuse in turn upon their own children. Jeremy’s story is heart-breaking, and only too common among survivors of domestic abuse. As a child, Jeremy was unaware of his father’s low self-esteem, and his family’s generations-long cycle of abuse. In his case, it was a situation that was further exacerbated by poverty and racial prejudice.

Of course it is not always the victim of the violence who suffers the deepest; what hurts children most is bearing witness to the abuse of one parent by another. Author of The Philosophical Baby, Alison Gopnik, speaks to this issue: “… because children are naturally empathetic, they literally take on the feelings of others… feeling every angry word, and every kick, shove, and punch inflicted.” This powerful empathy is due to the activation of mirror neurons – a phenomenon which causes children to respond strongly to everything they see and hear.

The good news, expanded upon in detail in Invincible, is that growing up as a child in an environment of domestic violence need not be a life sentence. Many of those whose stories are shared in the book speak of learning how to transform their rage, grief, feelings of low self-esteem, and impotence into more positive energy, and ultimately into the means to finally reach their full potential. Surprisingly, the author argues that such success occurs, not despite early experiences with domestic violence, but actually and equally because of them.

Martin’s healing approach is based on empowerment. He maintains that the childhood experience of surviving domestic violence provides the equipment – what he terms the ‘secret weapon’ – to overcome all sorts of life’s obstacles. These tools include a vast inner reservoir of courage, compassion, and strength – gifts received in exchange for the price paid as children. Ultimately, the ‘victim’ becomes the ‘victor’.

“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” As this well known quote promises, Martin reasons we all have the ability to rewrite our story, to reclaim our life and our future. Invincible offers proven, effective strategies to do so.

* Check out also Brian’s award-winning documentary, The Children Next Door (https://tinyurl.com/kskrtua). All net royalties from Invincible are donated to CDV.


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Bonnie Black is a former editor, and current contributor, to Vitality magazine.

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