Chance meeting with author of book on domestic abuse described as “God at work” for Kelly Wille of Waukon

Book-signing event scheduled for July 24 at Wille’s home in Waukon

Some would call it destiny or fate. Others would perhaps refer to it as “happenstance”.

For Kelly Wille of Waukon, she calls her chance encounter with the northeast Iowa author of a “memoir of spousal abuse” just over a week ago “God at work.”

Whatever the description, Wille’s Friday, July 7 meeting of Joyce Gibbs (also known by her author pseudonym Kate Klaver and on social media as Jenny Lue) has now developed into a newfound support system for both ladies, perhaps a resource for many others, distribution of more than 150 free books in less than a week’s time, and ultimately a book-signing event that all are invited to attend Monday, July 24 in Waukon.

That book signing was arranged between Wille and Gibbs during this past week and will be taking place that July 24 afternoon, beginning at 2 p.m. and lasting until “6-ish” p.m., according to Wille. She will be hosting that event on the front porch or her home, located at 205 1st Street NE in Waukon, where Gibbs will be signing copies of her first-ever book Portrayed Crazy: a memoir of spousal abuse. Anyone who has been impacted by domestic abuse, either directly or indirectly, is welcome to attend.

Gibbs will have copies of her book available to be given away for free at the event, or anyone who has received any of the more than 150 free copies that Wille has already helped deliver in the northeast Iowa area this past week can also get their book signed. Gibbs will also be hosting a Q&A (question and answer) session in regard to her book and her experience.

The whole premise for Gibbs writing the book is stated in its prologue: “In efforts to help others understand and comprehend domestic violence, I’m sharing my story with sole intent to put perspective on spousal abuse. Blessed to have regained emotional equilibrium and inner peace, I feel an obligation to speak up and out against spousal abuse.”

Portrayed Crazy is Gibbs’ own story - written under her pseudonym of Kate Klaver - of more than 30 years of domestic abuse suffered at the hand of her then-husband in what was described as the “worst recorded case” in nearby Clayton County - actually happening in Strawberry Point, although further security and protective interests when the book was published in 2019 tell of the story taking place in “Sunton, Iowa” in “Clark County”. She has since emerged from that shadow of secrecy to continue to tell her own story, with the chance meeting between Wille and Gibbs offering renewed opportunity to do so.

That July 7 encounter took place in a Camp Courageous thrift store where Wille was simply spending some free time while visiting her husband during one of his road construction trips away from home near Manchester. “Here I was, in a store I had not planned to be at, in a town I hadn’t planned to be in, and I kept bumping into this lady and making eye contact with her, like I was supposed to talk with her,” Wille described.

Wille said on their final meeting while browsing through the store, she finally had to say something. “I said, ‘I’m sorry, but you seem familiar to me, like I am supposed to talk to you’,” she shared. “She said she had written a book and she’s been on some billboards, and when I asked her what her book was about and she said ‘it’s a story of my own experience with domestic abuse,’ it really hit home with me.”

Having experienced some domestic abuse situations within her own family, both in the past and again more recently, Wille said, “I just knew this was God at work, bringing the two of us together in a chance meeting like this. It is what I needed, and what my family needed. This is a topic that has weighed heavy on my heart.”

In addition to being a source of hope and inspiration for herself and other members of her family, Wille also wanted to help Gibbs in her mission of helping others who have also either experienced domestic abuse directly themselves or through victims who are friends or family members. “I firmly believe that God is using her story to shine a light into this type of darkness, and I feel a need to help her do that,” Wille explained of Gibbs’ purpose in writing the book.

Distributing more than 150 of Gibbs’ books for free during the initial week of their acquaintance to anyone who wanted one is one way of doing just that. The Monday, July 24 book signing scheduled at Wille’s home in Waukon is a much more direct way of helping Gibbs impact many more lives of those who need it most. While Wille does not know what to expect from the July 24 invitation she has widely extended, the initial reaction she has gotten from distributing the books has her advising those wishing to attend to “bring their lawn chair... we’ll make room for whoever we need to.”

No matter how many may show up, both Wille and Gibbs just want to do what they can to help others who need it most. That’s a sentiment Gibbs shares in the final paragraph of her book’s epilogue: “Allowing my voice to be heard through my memoir, it is my hope a deeper understanding capitulates others to support loved ones who are silencing their shameful secrets. It takes but one person to validate claims to begin the process of leaving an abuser... and healing.”

Wille also finds that inspiration in one of her favorite quotes from the book of her newfound friend, which reads, “Whatever I learned late in life, I teach early to other victims and survivors, bringing hope to their silent voices. Reaching out, I use my story as a teaching tool to help others find their voice.”

The book is also being sold on Amazon and at River Lights Bookstore in Dubuque. Anyone who has read the book is asked to offer a review, either on the Amazon site where the book was purchased, or on the author’s own Facebook page, which can be found at