Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Wounded Heart--a book response

The last book I read, The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood S*xual Abuse by Dr. Dan B. Allender, has nothing to do with adoption.  However, given the statistics that 1 out of 3 women and 1 out 4 men have been victims of s*xual abuse (SA), chances are everyone knows someone this book could benefit.  I read the book for my Biblical Counseling class, and I believe this book (with God's power) could help heal many emotional wounds with which people deal though the books main focus is the deep wound of SA.  Honestly the book delves so deeply into our outward responses to our inner hurts with such accuracy I don't want to do the book a disservice in my response.  I cannot sum up a few pithy take aways that will let you know if you should read the book or not.  Let's just say, I think you should read it (and I will lend my copy to my local friends).

I think the best way to give you a glimpse of what this book offers is to give you the table of contents.

Prologue:  The Quest for a Cure
Part 1: The Dynamics of Abuse
     Chapter 1  The Reality of War: Facing the Battle
     Chapter 2  The Enemy: Sin and Shame
     Chapter 3  Deflection: The Clash with Contempt
     Chapter 4  The War Zone: Strategies for Abuse
Part 2: The Damage of Abuse
     Chapter 5  Powerlessness
     Chapter 6  Betrayal
     Chapter 7  Ambivalence
     Chapter 8  Secondary Symptoms
     Chapter 9  Style of Relating
Part 3:  Prerequisites for Growth
     Chapter 10 The Unlikely Route to Joy
     Chapter 11 Honesty
     Chapter 12 Repentance (not for the event/crime or for a child's coping mechanisms)
     Chapter 13 Bold Love
Epilogue: Words to the Wise

I found the book's discussion of shame in Chapter 2 particularly applicable to all areas of life.  He calls it the dread of being known and describes how we can feel shame because our dignity has been offended like we trip, or because we have actually sinned and feel shame in order to repent.  Often we get the two confused and end up stewing in shame, embarrassment, and guilt for things of which we have no need to repent.  The author describes the difference as "legitimate shame exposes depravity, and illegitimate shame shines a light on some element of dignity."  Oh, there is some great stuff in this chapter alone that can help one focus on what actually can be changed and done in order to start on the path to come alive--a difficult and painful path, but one that leads to real joy.

Now if one needs every book to relate to adoption (as I currently do) I actually saw a lot of similarities in the wounds SA victims experience to what some adult adoptees describe.  When SA victims try to speak out, they have often been shut down, their experiences ignored or told they did not exist, thus losing their ability to trust their own feelings.  They lose their innocence, childhood and sense of safety never to be regained.  Some adult adoptees speak about a similar experience of their wounds being ignored, their voices shut down.  They also experience great losses--the loss of their first parents and birth culture never to be fully regained.  When they try to express the grief of this loss they are ignored or told the loss does not exist, that their pain does not exist. 

I believe this book offers words of validation and comfort to both groups of hurting people:  " an intensified experience of sadness involving the loss of something deeply important that cannot be regained or replaced...Grief does not regain what is lost, but it breaks the tendency to resort to self-hatred to resolve the anguish of the loss...Grief admits there are scars that can be removed only in heaven...Grief may permit deeper acknowledgment of past pain and restore a greater sense of wholeness, but it may equally strengthen the resolve never to be hurt again."  We all have a choice in which direction grief takes us, but "the mercy of God...soothes the soul and draws it forward to a hope that purifies and sets free."  May we all let God's mercy set us free.

1 comment:

Adrian Roberta said...

I love that you read this book. It's been in my personal library since 1997. I use it as required reading in a 'Care Group' councelling ministry at my church that I facilitate. It is an outstanding book (and workbook if you order it).

I learn so much each time I go through it, and you are so right in that it can be great for the Adoptive parent to read, even if thier child hasn't experiance Sexual Abuse. Alot is applicable in any childs life who has experiance truma and loss.

God's mercy is the only path to Freedom.