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THE ORANGE COAT By Sarah Baldry Lovereading Review

The Orange Coat is the harrowing and often shocking story of one woman’s alleged domestic abuse nightmare, and subsequent dealings with the police — whom, she claims, grossly mishandled her case almost from start to finish.

sbfc-The-Orange-Coat-smAs the author explains in the book’s introduction, she decided to put pen to paper to share “the story of various chapters of my life” and about her “dealings with officers of the law in the UK, during a time where I felt very scared and unsafe and I feared for the safety of others too”. It is, as such, a personal and heart-felt testimony that also serves as a  form of catharsis for the writer. It goes without saying that all names in the book, save the writer’s own psychiatrist, have been changed.

As with many works within the inspirational literature genre, The Orange Coat details the many wrongs and tragedies that have befallen the author throughout her life. Sarah has suffered from depression since childhood and says that this stems from her days at boarding school when, separated from her father and brother, she was the victim of ongoing institutional punishment that would rival anything from Dickens’s novels in its cruelty. The author goes further, hinting at sexual abuse, and this sustained loneliness and suffering may help account for her hasty and ill-advised marriage at 30 to a man she had only known for seven weeks.

Sarah claims that her time with her husband was a “marriage of mind-games, manipulation and cruelty” which featured a series of inexplicable events, illnesses and injuries that plagued and perplexed her until she built up the courage to escape the relationship. She says that after leaving her husband these issues disappeared and it is only on later reflection that she began suspecting his hand in these tribulations.

More worryingly, Sarah believes that her ex-husband might have been involved in much darker and disturbing deeds. There is no definitive proof for these suspicions, but the author presents her own evidence — the discovery of a child’s orange coat and drawing hidden away in the house she shared with her ex, when they had no children of their own — and leaves it to the reader to come to their own conclusions.

To try and escape her past, Sarah — a highly successful make-up artist — moves to Dubai to start anew, and for a time finds happiness, marrying again and starting a family. But, as she relates, the spectre of her ex soon comes back to haunt her and she turns to the British police for help, fearing for her safety. The rest of the book details the alleged mishandling of her case and makes some strong and alarming accusations against the very people who are meant to be their to protect the public. The authors presents the charges as she sees them in as objective and honest a way as possible throughout, and at the end of many chapters provides commentary on the incidents she describes — with the added benefit of hindsight.

The extensive amount of time, energy and money she spent dealing with the police, both in the UK and Dubai, to try and get some form of reassurance of safety from her ex caused no end of stress and worry for Sarah, and led to both a mental collapse and the break-down of her marriage.

Sarah says that The Orange Coat is a book that she has wanted to bring out for a long time, to air her grievances in public after failing to get the recognition or response she so desperately wanted from the police.

There are no happy endings to be had and no substantial answers — but that’s not what this book is about.

Sarah Baldry has given readers a “walk in her shoes”, offering a rare and powerful insight into the hell of domestic abuse that will help inspire other victims to seek out the support they need to get through it as well.

The Orange Coat by Sarah Baldry is available from Amazon in print (and Kindle) format, priced £8.43 (£6.16). For more information visit www.TheOrangeCoat.com

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