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5 MINUTES WITH CATHY PRESS: ‘Many of us don’t notice the layers of grooming, coercion and control.’

February 21 2022

We’re excited to be working with psychotherapist and domestic and sexual abuse counsellor Cathy Press on the campaign for her new book, When Loves Bites: A Young Person’s Guide to Escaping the Trap of Harmful, Toxic and Hurtful Relationships. We asked Cathy our 5 questions to find out more about her, her book, and her vision:


1. Pitch in 10 - sell us your book in less than 10 words

Helping young people sidestep the traps of intimate relationship abuse.

2. Audience of One - If you could choose ONE person to read your book who would it be and why?

If my book helps ‘just one other person’ then that is the one person I would like to read my book.

Many of us rush to pair up with a partner, seduced by their compliments, attentiveness and love bombing, without noticing the layers of grooming, coercion and control that are at play. That is, not until we feel trapped and don’t know what to do.

This book will enable you to relate these negative and abusive behaviours to your own relationships and support you to reflect on how these experiences may have impacted you and how you feel about yourself.

3. Behind the Book - Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As a young person in an early abusive relationship, I believed that the dreadful things my partner did to me were my fault. I never told anyone at the time because I thought I must have done something wrong and deserved to be treated this way.

This shaped the choices I made in relationships through my early adult life. However, when many years later I started working as a counsellor with survivors of domestic abuse, I realised that everything my clients were telling me about their experiences, I had experienced myself in several relationships.

So many of the people I have worked with have wished that someone had noticed, warned them or talked more openly about the reality of coercive and controlling behaviours. What if someone had shared with them some of the insights in this book and supported them to make healthier relationship choices?

I wrote this book with respect to that younger part of myself, and for the thousands of young people and adults with whom I have worked across three decades, that experienced direct harm and suffering at the hands of the person that was supposed to love, care and respect them. Your experiences will inform others.

4. Guess what? Tell us one thing that readers might be surprised to hear about you.

For many years, I worked as an actress. I went to a casting for a commercial, but on this occasion didn’t get the job. What I didn’t know, was the director for that job had me in mind for a couple of commercials in Norway. I didn’t need a recall as the director said he simply needed to find me someone to play my husband.

I arrived in Oslo and met the actor playing my husband. We went for dinner there with an old friend of mine who asked us how long we had known each other. We explained it wasn’t what he thought. That we had literally just met that day. We worked together on the two commercials playing a slightly comedic couple and got on really well.

From there, we saw each other back in London and the rest is history. We had a daughter and have been happily together for 20 years.

We sent the director a photo of the three of us when our daughter was born, reflecting that it was the most suitable casting of a husband!

5. The next chapter - what’s next for you?

I have just co-developed the new ten-week VOICE Programme. It is for adult victims of intimate coercive experience. The programme aims to address the various behaviours of a controlling partner both in situ and post-separation and to offer relatable psychoeducation on trauma and normal stress responses, enabling victims to learn more about self-regulation and self-care. The programme is committed to weaving in the themes of intersectionality and the additional barriers this presents to victims, theoretic models which help victims to identify where they are at in the cycle or stage of domestic abuse both pre and post-separation and the use of digital technology to further compound abusive dynamics. Who knows a book may be on the horizon!

I also have a few book ideas for children. One addressing experiences of loss and grief and the other two are stories for a slightly younger age. If only I had more time…


Find out more about Cathy’s work at awarenessmatters.org.uk. To get a review copy or to book in an interview, contact Lyndsey Mayhew at lyndsey.mayhew@thebookpublicist.co.uk

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