Tag Archive for: sexual abuse survivors

Threshold

ThresholdThis book is written by one of the leaders in the Christian community when it comes to understanding and counseling childhood sexual abuse (CSA). While Langberg speaks to survivors in this volume, it is also helpful reading for called workers, friends, relatives—anyone who is serving as a support system for those who have been affected by the sin of CSA.

Langberg not only has 25 years experience (as the book’s writing) of counseling CSA survivors, she also has a deep understanding of Scripture and a profound appreciation for the healing power of God’s Word.

Throughout the book she points to the Savior, Jesus Christ, not only as the Redeemer who lived for us and died for sin, but also as One who understands the pain of abuse. She writes,

You live in a world where you have encountered evil people. So did he. Some of you have known violence because of other’s twisted need to gratify themselves. So did he. He, too, has encountered darkness, chaos, and trash. He went to hell—the place of greatest darkness and chaos. He who is sovereign over all knows what it is like to have hideous things happen and not be in control. He who is our refuge knows what it is like to be unprotected, not only from the fury of the enemy but also from the wrath of God. He knows what it is like not to get what you need. He had no place to sleep. He who created food and water went hungry and thirsty (p. 165).

As the author walks the survivor through the healing process, she make it clear that the road to recovery is long and painful. Yet as the title implies, she indicates that there is a hope. This books helps survivors finds such hope, practically and spiritually.

If this sin has affected you, read this book. If you are a pastor, teacher, or staff minister, read this book. If you have a friend or family member who is helping someone who was sexual abused as a child, read this book. If you are a Christian counselor or social worker, read this book. You will learn what not to do and also what you can do to help victims of CSA become survivors.


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Author: Langberg, Diane Mandt.
217 pages

Reviewed by: John D. Schuetze on July, 2015

Read the review by Sheryl Cowling, LCSW, BCPCC, BCETS

counseling

counselingDr. Langberg is one of the leading figures in the Christian community when it comes to counseling childhood sexual abuse. At the time when she wrote this book she had about twenty-give years of experience in counseling those who have been sexually abused as children. She not only understands the process of helping victims become survivors, but she addresses it from a Christian perspective. What is more, she is able to connect with the counselor and offer valuable and practical insights about what to do and not do to help victims. Even though much new information has been discovered and added to the field of trauma counseling in the past several decades, this book still has much to offer.

The book is divided into seven parts. In the first part Langberg writes about “Foundations to the Treatment of Sexual Abuse.” With the help of a case study, she walks the reader through the process of child development and how the trauma of sexual abuse can interfere with this process. She also provides definitions and explains the process of therapy. Her theology is markedly Evangelical, so the Lutheran reader will note that she reflects an Evangelical understanding of the image of God. Yet often her spiritual and biblical insights are helpful and the Lutheran reader will learn to appreciate her emphasis on the power and importance of the Word.

In the next three chapters the author works through the three phases of therapy and gives much practical advice. Langberg notes that a key part of the healing process is sorting out truth and lies, something that can be very difficult for victims. They may have been fed one lie after another by their perpetrators. In a sense their experience of abuse has taught them the lies that God does not care, that he does not answer prayer, that he is not all-powerful. Langberg notes,

When confronted with evil or terrible suffering, we find our faith in the goodness, love, and power of God to be profoundly shaken. As the survivor confronts her life without pretending, she will have to rework her faith so that her relationship to God is not predicated on denying the truth. Is God good, loving, and powerful even though the evidence in her life appears to scream to the contrary? In part, the crisis of faith is whether or not truth will be derived from life’s circumstances or from God’s Word (page 197).

Part five deals with some special considerations: dissociative disorders, false memory syndrome, and male survivors. This is helpful information for those who care for those who have been abused.

In the last two parts Langberg addresses the person of the therapist and the profile of a compassionate church. The final section is especially helpful for pastoral counselors as the Christian community has not always been a comfortable place for victims or survivors of CSA. The author provides a lengthy list of survivor’s needs and another of potential hindrances to effective helping.

This book demonstrates that while a pastoral counselor will want to refer a wounded member to competent clinical care, he will also want to provide the appropriate pastoral care that will help the hurting person make the transition from being a victim to a survivor of sexual abuse. Both play a vital role in the healing process.


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Author: Langberg, Diane Mandt
299 pages

Reviewed by: John D. Schuetze on 5/20/2015

Rid of my disgrace

Rid of my disgraceRid of My Disgrace – Hope and Healing of Victims of Sexual Assault

As a Christian psychotherapist, I found Rid of My Disgrace to be a very well-researched, thorough analysis of the issue of sexual assault from both a clinical and biblical perspective. This is likely a reflection of the co-authors, John Holcomb, a pastor and professor, and his wife Lindsey Holcomb, who has counseled victims of sexual assault and trained leaders to care for them.

They quickly establish a tone that is compassionate, supportive, encouraging and Christ-centered to victims of sexual assault. I appreciated their emphasis on how “God restores, heals, and re-creates through grace” (p. 15) in contrast to secular notions of healing based on self-help, self-healing and self-love.

The book is divided in to three parts. In Part One, titled “Disgrace,” the pair provides a thorough, detailed definition of sexual assault that emphasizes the traumatic nature of such an experience for both female and male victims. They offer facts and statistics that put the epidemic of sexual assault into a sobering, somber perspective. The authors detail potential biological, psychological, social and spiritual injuries that can result from sexual assault. Again, I appreciated that they draw the reader back to God’s ability to heal when they write,

What grace offers to the victim experiencing disgrace is the gift of refuting distortions and faulty thinking and replacing their condemning, counterfactual beliefs with more accurate ones that reflect the truths about God, yourself, and God’s grace-filled response to your disgrace” (p. 45).

In Part Two, titled “Grace Applied,” the pair offer vignettes written by both female and male victims of sexual assault. These testimonies convey emotions and experiences that grab the reader’s attention and empathy. They then write about denial, distorted self-image, shame, guilt, anger, and despair. These are approached from a perspective that seamlessly combines sound clinical information with scriptural references. They do note how forgiveness is different than reconciliation, although I wish they would have expanded upon this even more, as often the two are considered one, which can be a significant hindrance to forgiving. The pair consistently point the reader back to Christ and Scripture as the source for all comfort and healing.

In Part Three, titled “Grace Accomplished,” the authors talk about how sexual assault is the result of sin—against the victim and against God. “In addition to being a sin against others, sexual assault is also a sin against God because the blessing of sexuality is used to destroy instead of build intimacy” (p. 170). They note how sexual assault can change how victims relate to other people, and also how they relate to God. They go on to detail grace in the Old Testament, emphasizing that, “Not only does God hear, God also sees. And out of hearing and seeing, God knows the suffering of people” (p. 180). The authors end with a chapter about grace in the New Testament that focuses on the redeeming work of Christ on the cross. “The work of Christ is to deliver us from suffering, corruption, and death, as well as from sin” (p. 207).

Overall, I found the book to be very informative and thorough. Its strengths seem to be in the details about what sexual assault is and how it can impact victims, along with the need for Christ for complete healing. Pastors and loved ones of victims may find this especially beneficial.

The book may leave some victims wanting more detailed strategies about how to heal, as it is not a workbook with exercises that might help one to apply the knowledge contained in it.


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Author: Holcomb, Justin S. & Holcomb, Lindsey A.
288 pages

Reviewed by: Sheryl Cowling, LCSW, BCPCC, BCETS February 2015

Mending

MendingA Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts

If your world has been turned upside down and your heart shattered from finding out that your loved one whom you have trusted has lied and deceived you and is suffering from sex-addiction, this book was written with you in mind. The collection of writings from various authors who wrote this book seek to help you as you work through the questions and confusion you must be feeling.

The book is divided into two parts. Part One:

“For All Partner of Sex Addicts” addresses eight questions, the answers of which are “intended to support you as you begin to learn about sex addiction and what your options are as a partner of a sex addict.”

Part Two: “Specific Situations” contains “specific information about sex addiction based on your particular situations. Not every chapter will apply to you. Concentrate on what you need to know and leave the rest.” Examples of material in this section are (9) What you would choose to tell the kids depending on their age; (10) What if my partner shows an interest in minors; (12) Straight guise; and (14) Can we make it as a couple?

This book does not seek to give spiritual direction. Its reference to the twelve step model with the term “spiritual awakening” does not refer to Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit but returning to the “core integrity” of the person. The book presents sex addiction as a disease and does not address sin.

The appendage of the book includes “The Twelve Steps Sex Addicts Anonymous,” “Resource Guide,” “Recommended Reading,” “Notes on each chapter,” and “Biographical Sketches of the Authors.”

Personally I would recommend the book to a counselor, pastor, or person well-grounded in our Christian faith as a resource since the book does address questions a person may have that I might not even think of. The authors do suggest ways to approach and discuss the problem of addiction. The importance of sin and grace need to be supplied. The support of God’s grace and forgiveness is the only way to mend the shattered heart.


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Editor: Carnes, Stephanie
220 pages

Reviewed by: Elsa Manthey, April 2015