Abuse recognition begins with “It Ends With Us”

Despite the author’s personal controversies, Colleen Hoover’s depictions of abuse and gaslighting in relationships are sensitive and valid. “It Ends With Us”, a romance novel written by esteemed author Colleen Hoover, has gained delayed recognition on social media platforms in recent years due to the claim that Hoover romanticizes abuse. The abuser in the story is not immediately recognized as an abuser and is rather introduced as a true love interest, causing controversy to arise.  For some readers, the idea of loving an abuser and finding the quest to leave the relationship being extremely hard for the victim is unfathomable. 

Some of the biggest trigger warnings include physical abuse, sexual assault, and verbal abuse. With the novel featuring such heavy topics, and portraying them in a way that feels hard to read at times due to its relatability, readers question how Hoover is able to convey such topics without having been the victim herself. What some do not realize however, is that though Hoover did not experience this abuse first hand, she lived with it. In interviews as well as dedications in the first novel and the second novel, Hoover is open about the fact that her mom frequently experienced similar abuse in her childhood household at the hands of her dad and that the premise, though not exactly like the novel, is based on her mother’s story of escaping abuse. Solidifying the idea that though Hoover did not directly suffer at the hands of her dad, her ability of telling the story of abuse, even from her mother’s perspective is not lost.

One of the most frequent topics in the novel is gaslighting, one of the most emotionally traumatizing techniques of abuse used to influence the victim’s self-doubt in the abuser. In the first novel, the main protagonist Lily, the character Hoover’s mother is based on, constantly doubts herself as to whether she is even truly experiencing the abuse of her partner, Ryle, even after carrying visible bruises as a result of gaslighting. One truly horrific scene entails Ryle pushing Lily down the stairs to where she suffers multiple injuries, and when questioned by Lily, Ryle simply tells her that she fell of her own accord. Hoover realistically tells the story of emotional terrorism through gaslighting and physical abuse which allows readers who are experiencing similar abuse, feel less alone. In turn, this could potentially encourage readers to reach out and change their story.

With popular books, most readers are quick to criticize each and every detail in the novel in response to its popularity; specifically with Colleen Hoover. Along with Hoover’s controversies regarding the actual content in her stories, she has been made recently infamous once again due to her role in banning a popular online book website after finding out that her novels were being downloaded illegally. With this in mind, readers are quick to criticize any and all things Colleen Hoover therefore I think it would be valid to pose the idea that some readers may be biased when reading her content. 

Though I agree with some aspects regarding the dislike of the popular author, as admittedly some of Hoover’s writing can tend to have lukewarm moments and unnecessary elements of violence, I believe her arguably most successful novel stands apart. Putting Hoover’s controversies aside, “It Ends With Us” will continue to stand in my mind as a considerably realistic recollection of abuse that should be viewed in an unbiased manner as it’s elements, if looked upon in a neutral way, can allow readers who share similar experiences to feel less alone.