(Review) Healing the Wounded Heart: The Heartache of Sexual Abuse and the Hope of Transformation by Dan B. Allender


Publisher and Publication Date: Baker Books. March 1, 2016. First published in 1989.
Genre: Nonfiction, sexual abuse.
Pages: 288.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Excellent.


The Allender Center

The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology-this link gives a bio on Allender

Further links for sexual abuse survivors:
Cecil Murphey, an adult male abuse survivor
Facebook page for Overcoming Sexual Abuse
Journey to Heal by Crystal Sutherland-website
Unchanging God-Changing You by Kristin Robinson-a Christian life coach
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology 

The back cover synopsis of the book states “millions of people” have “suffered abuse in the form of rape, incest, molestation,” and other forms. That statement is hard to grasp. It’s hard because a million abuse survivors is unconscionable. However, I now know I do not stand alone. One of the aspects of being abused is shame, but another is the feeling that I’m all alone in this horror. Shame causes isolation and this exacerbates the alone feeling. In 2015, I finally acknowledged, and aloud, that I had been sexually abused as a teenage girl. This began a pivotal moment in life. Counseling, journaling, reading books, and prayer helped. I even wrote anger letters, pouring my heart out on paper, vicious acerbic words, and then I shredded them. I have a good friend who said, “Annette it is like emptying your suitcase. Your suitcase is filled with memories both good and bad. You sort through those bad memories, working through them, and then you can remove them from the suitcase, it lightens the load, and you now have room for good memories in life.” Healing the Wounded Heart has been a strong tool in helping me recover. I want to clarify something about recovery. Sexual abuse harms not just the body but the soul. Working through what happened and forgiveness is necessary. However, I will spend a lifetime dealing with “other” elements that came from the abuse. For example: taking things personally, mistrust of men (the feeling that men want to abuse me), I don’t deserve a decent man, I don’t deserve anything good, and many others. I can intellectually say these are all lies, but it is the old patterns that are the hardest to break.
In Healing the Wounded Heart, Dan B. Allender, divides the book in two sections: “Part One The Wounded Heart,” “Part Two The Healing Path.”
I took ten pages of notes. I will point out a few strong points I liked.
In “Part One The Wounded Heart.”
•Chapter Two. This is a chapter to read again and again because it shows a goal of evil: lies and bondage.

The more freedom we gain from evil’s brutal lies, the clearer we will see how past events have been used to capture and kill parts of our heart. Evil is a killer that delights in taking life and destroying hope. It does so through mocking our sense of powerlessness to escape the harm that evil has inflicted. Page 39.

Page 42 follows up by saying, “Evil destroys.” This is a strong chapter telling what abuse survivors are up against. It is a necessary chapter even if it causes uncomfortableness, because evil does not want the survivor to talk about “it” or recover.
•Chapter Four talks about the “groomer” and what coercive techniques they use. I was groomed. He sought me out. I was his prey.
•Chapter Six addresses men who have been abused. Illustrations from the people in the men’s lives are shared. If you want to read another book that addresses men who have been abused I recommend: Not Quite Healed by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe. I read this book a few years ago and highly recommend it.
Part Two is the section titled, “The Healing Path.”
•Kindness, hospitality, gratitude, honest grieving, inviting God to mature us, the stages of the healing journey, and our lives both good and bad are “revelatory” are in this section.
Healing the Wounded Heart is a book to be read cover to cover and kept for reference. It is a strong tool in recovery.

A few profound quotes:

Sex has the power to touch the deepest dimension of what it means to be human and alive to God; therefore, it stands to reason that it is hated more than any other dimension of humanity by a kingdom that opposes the glory of God. There is a power that uses sexual violation as its choice means to turn the human heart away from the Creator. This opposition to beauty and innocence is at the core of all sexual harm. Page 31.

When a perpetrator uses tenderness and care as part of the dynamic with his or her victim, the victim loses the ability to separate delight and beauty from harm and evil. Page 76.

As simple as it may sound, love heals the heart and every dimension of life to which it flows. Page 153.

Gratitude is one of the strongest weapons against the work of evil. Page 161.

Remember a core principle: we change at the level we are willing to enter reality. Page 162.

This is a photo of me during this terrible time in my life. I’m smiling on the outside because it is my senior photograph. However, I was a broken young girl.

Image (120)


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