10/06/2010 06:54 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Cycle of Abuse: Like Clockwork

"But he'll change..."

These are the words that haunt women in abusive relationships.

How do they get to this point of justifying and rationalizing physical and vocal outbursts that shatter their peaceful homes? What is the mindset that prevents them from leaving, even when it happens again and again?

Joanna V. Hunter was one of those women. After two decades of spirit-crushing verbal and emotional abuse (including a brief period of physical abuse) she finally got the courage to leave. But that night was filled with fear ...

"I knew it was a little over two hours home, a few minutes to get the gun he had and two hours back. I figured I was going to be dead before morning."

As time began to heal her soul, Joanna found her voice. And she began to pen the cycle that originally swept her up and kept her with an abusive man.

The result is a powerful and unflinching book, "But He'll Change: End the Thinking That Keeps You in an Abusive Relationship." Defining domestic abuse as "the systematic suffocation of another person's spirit," Joanna's writing leaves abusers nowhere to hide as she reveals every method they use to keep their victim down and off center (constant demeaning, jealous tirades, threatening suicide, threatening to take or hurt the kids, hurting pets, financial insecurity).

Written with raw honesty and advice that cuts straight through the BS, readers can't help but recognize themselves or people they love. Joanna's work empowers women to face their situation for what it is, and act. And the next time they're tempted to think, "But he'll change," they'll realize the answer is "doubtful."

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Below is my audio interview with Joanna V. Hunter. The emotion and the strength in her voice took my breath away and made me want to get her book into the hands of every woman I know.

Listen to a 1-minute snippet from my interview with Joanna:

Listen to the whole interview: