Book Review:   A Prison Without Walls, by Kelly Bristow

As they’re manipulated by dominant partners, countless people become totally dependent on their abusers and lose confidence in themselves and their abilities. Anxiety takes over as their beliefs are eroded over time. They become stuck. 

A Prison Without Walls, by Kelly Bristow, follows Jenny as she experiences the trauma of living with an abusive partner. 

Bristow’s authoritative ability to capture the dramatic horrors of both mental and physical abuse is a clear indication that she is a survivor.

     I felt the tears well up again, I was in total despair now. “Oh God please help me!…Someone please, anyone…..” My voice trailed as the tears stung my eyes and trickled down my cheeks. I can’t take it anymore, I pushed all the tablets out of the packet ferociously, my hands moving rapidly as they popped out, it was urgent now, I had to finish this misery. I want out! 

Sadly, the way out for so many is suicide, or murder, but there is hope and help for people like Jenny. Read the book to find out if she finds the help, she so desperately needs, in time!

Please remember, the silent victims far outnumber the ones you hear about. Are you or someone you care about, living in A Prison Without Walls? 

I’m sharing this book because the story is close to my heart, and raising awareness about domestic abuse and violence is so important. 

Bristow’s book will empower victims to reach out and encourage others to reach in, to help those who are stuck, find a way out. Please read. Please share.  

-W. H.

QR code for A Prison Without Walls


breaking free part 7

After the rains, the wind came.

I heard it. I felt it inside my room, in my body, even though it only was happening outside. The lights flickered and the whole IOMM was pitching again. And I heard the creaking of the masts and the old ropes. Invisible ropes, sometimes dusty and dry- the rains gave them renewal, strength- I knew this as the winds came. There was a faith being challenged- a disruptive force, exciting! Outside yet inside too! I felt the wind come, a rousingly, beckoning, tugging me out of that old bed. Yes! I’ll go with you! We held hands as the walls shook and doors rattled, openings appeared with light breaking through. We ran outside letting the wind pull us, carrying us in a gust, blowing us where it may- wildly wide open. Vulnerable yet unafraid. I heard voices. Riding on the wind. Into the light we went!

breaking free part 6

I was staring at the lock on my door when I sensed a presence. I tried to shut it out, ignore it, maybe it would go away. Maybe 10:30 landed on a branch up above. Why was it always maybe 10:30? Why not some other owl? Maybe now she was perched up there, watching me. I felt weak and ashamed, I dared not look. I looked to the window, and felt something nudging me to slip out. To slip away into the night and be free, was it that easy? Where would I go? Who would want me? Just go, to vanish into nothing? I looked again to the lock, back to the window, then back again. I was torn. Afraid. I had worth here, to give, all of myself, and let them take what they will, how they will. To be the steady ever present provider of what ever they need. To offset familiar patterns of chaos and abuse with steady kindness. To be the love here for the taking. Warm blood. Out there they’re colder, I’ve seen it, they race around stepping on each other, hurting each other, for nothing. I’m old now, they’d only mock me as a failure. I wouldn’t be enough. I’d have no worth, a lover without a soul to love.

I am not enough. 

I got up, walked over, and unlocked my door. I laid back down in that old bed and waited for someone to come and stab me. With tears in my eyes, I looked to the heavens.

And I saw the owl fly away.

breaking free part 5

We walked back

Slowly, cautiously, quietly, and not looking at anyone, we made our way back and slipped through the window. The room had always been quiet, but now it even felt quiet. Nothing moved, or swayed. It was as if all the energy and vibrations within everything had stopped. The bed was warm and crisp and dead. I sat on the edge of it and looked at the floor , no longer transparent, no longer inviting me to fall through a thousand feet to the water below. Everything was solid now, and dry. Peaceful. I couldn’t feel anyone, there were no energies flowing through me, nothing coming in or going out. I felt solid. Dry. And I felt independent, brave, without need.

I looked at the door leading out into the halls of the IOMMHQ, it was still closed, locked tight. I stared at the lock on the door for a long time.

And I stayed there. Without want.

breaking free part 4

An acorn dropped like a wooden ball on the sidewalk reminding me that time was passing, my wounds should be healing. But I felt bitter there on that old bench, hating her, hating everyone. My mind was cold now, like love itself jumped out of me and ran away. I was truly, completely abandoned, and I didn’t care anymore. How could I free myself from that place? Swim away with the turtles? Water the flowers with my blood and bury myself in the park? Fly off the highest rooftop like an eagle? What kind of plans were these? It was either that or ring the bell at Dr B’s. Wouldn’t it be nice if Dr. B would come outside and look for me? Wouldn’t it be nice if I was worth talking to for free? I wanted acceptance. I wanted an apology. The sun that brought me there was fading fast. My heart felt cold and a great shadow appeared over me. Hatred came and held my hand, I got up, and together we walked slowly back to the IOMMHQ. I had to face him. Or her.

breaking free part 3

The yarn ran out. That was it. My hands wanted more. I needed more. I sat there, an idle machine, like someone hit the stop button. It was quiet, dry there, and the room was bright and unusually warm, like the whole IOMMHQ slid into the desert somehow. The window sill was sunny but empty, 2:16 was gone. Everyone was gone. So quiet, there. Even the loneliness felt different. I was furniture now, discarded like a broken vending machine. They smashed my glass. Stole my candy. Ripped my guts out. And it didn’t hurt anymore. I could just sit here, for years, waiting to be rolled away. Maybe Elo would come and bring me more yarn. She won’t. I know she won’t. I’m tired now. And I daydream about 10:30 locked up in a cage, content now to be alone because freedom scares the hell out of her. She can’t love anymore. They cut her from the sky, held her down, pierced her, and gouged out her trust. Her love now comes from inside the cage, in the quiet spaces between the facade of kindness she upholds and calls her strength; to hide the hatred for her captors. I was lucky to know her. If only I could understand why she let me in at all. Why me? Sometimes I cry for her because I know she can’t. She’s broken. These dreams haunt me, making me not want to be connected to a society that locks up owls. I fear those men too.

But I need more yarn. And the sun makes me feel safe. I should get moving. I can’t sit here anymore. I think about my locked door. As quiet as this place is, he’s still out there. Or she. Or he. Or she. Waiting to pounce on me. I slide out the window. Into the warm sunny day. The gumdrop haystacks are dry. The grass is dry. The old hat factory bricks like a chalk drawing in the sun. I see Dr.V! She’s walking hurriedly outside. I don’t call to her. She’s too far away. She gets in a delivery truck and drives toward the east. “Wait!” I shout. She doesn’t hear me. I go inside the hat factory to find yarn. There’s no one at reception. There’s no one working the machines. There’s no one upstairs. Everyone is gone. There’s no yarn there. I walk outside, unsure where to go. And so I took the path to the edge of park. I sat on my favourite bench, not far from the door to Dr. B’s. I didn’t go in. I stayed outside. There were no birds nudging me. I was alone.