I believe adults working through the damage of childhood sexual abuse will find this book highly beneficial, as will ministry leaders and counsellors. Allender addresses this very difficult topic with wisdom, insight, sensitivity, and skill. In this time-tested book (first published in 1990), Allender brings counselling experience, knowledge of psychology, and biblical authority together to outline the response of the soul to being sinned against in this way (powerlessness, betrayal, ambivalence) and to address the path to healing.
First, Allender brings sensitivity to a topic that can easily raise traumatic memories for victims of child sex abuse. You’ll find a willingness to confront pointedly combined with careful regard for the unique sensitivities of those who have suffered in these ways.
Second, Allender focuses his attention on the heart rather than the surface issues. Allender targets the key thinking, beliefs, and ideas that abuse cultivates. He challenges wrong thinking and directs the reader toward biblical thinking.
Third, in chapters 5-9, Allender walks the reader through the dynamics of abuse with disconcerting precision. For those who want to understand these dynamics better, this book will be an invaluable help.
First, Allender puts what I feel is an undue emphasis on addressing “recovered memories.” This is probably related to the era in which the book was first written, but in the context of contemporary psychology and couselling, it comes across as odd at least.
Second, as with any book addressing a topic of this sensitivity, there are points of theology and anthropology with which the reader is likely to disagree. For this reason, I think there is wisdom in the victim of sexual abuse going through this book with someone else who can help them assess the ideas presented and their theological implications.
Third, while Allender shows profound sensitivity to the issues surrounding sexual abuse, the same cannot be said regarding his handling of mental illness and other sensitive issues.
This is a substantial book with potential to profoundly change the way victims of childhood sexual abuse view their experiences and respond to their pain. Highly recommended to Christian leaders and counsellors.
Grace to you.