(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)


(Review) Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken by David Powlison


Publisher and Publication Date: Crossway. August 31, 2017.
Genre: Christian nonfiction, sexuality, abuse.
Pages: 128.
Source: Complimentary ebook copy from Crossway. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Very good.


David Powlison (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a teacher, a counselor, and the executive director of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation. He is also the senior editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling and the author of Seeing with New Eyes, Good & Angry, and Speaking Truth in Love.


1. Getting Oriented
2. Making Renewal Personal
3. Renewing All That Darkens Sex
4. Renewal Is Lifelong
5. Renewal Is a Wider Battle
6. Renewal Is a Deeper Battle
7. Renewal Brings an Increasingly Subtle Struggle
8. Remembering the Goal of Renewal
9. Getting Down to Today’s Skirmish in the Great War
General Index
Scripture Index

In order to renew anything, we must have a vision for what it is intended to be, for what’s gone wrong, and for how to bring about transformation.

David Powlison addresses both men and women in regards to several issues. For example, victims and those who are predators; people who struggle with sexual impulses outside a marriage; people who view sex as an identity. In addition, patterns and motivation, self-condemnation, sanctification, and transformation and growth are all examined.
In 128 pages, Powlison covers a wide field of subtopics under the main topic of sexuality.

My Thoughts:
After reading Making All Things New, what resonates with me is Powlison does not promise we will be perfected in this life. Recovery and sanctification is a process, because we will not see complete healing on this earth. I dislike nonfiction books that make promises that cannot be attained. This life is a struggle. It is messy. On the other hand, we cannot give up and give in to temptation. In the last chapter, Powlison teaches several things that can help. My favorite suggestion,

Put trouble and God together by talking it out.

Talk to God about problems. This seems like such an easy statement to grasp, but for many people it is ignored.

I started this section of the review with the ending applications of the book. My point was to make sure the readers understood the book holds helpful truths to understand and apply.

An opening question in chapter 2 is a bold question: “Where do you struggle with sex?” This type of question is on point with the rest of the book. Making All Things New is a graphic topic many Christians won’t analyze. I’ve not heard a sermon or Bible study on this topic. It is rare for me to hear a sermon on marriage, but if I do, in the mix of the sermon will be a lesson about the beauty of sex in a marriage. Among my gal pals, sex problems are spoken about with embarrassment and shame. Ridicule, gossip, and judgement are given to those who betray a marriage, reveal a secret about sexual abuse, or those who admit they are gay or lesbian. I’ve learned listening is the best response to give another person. Listening is truly a gift to another.

Further reflections on what I love about this book:
1. Powlison addresses the reader with ease and a personal approach. He is comfortable and this makes me comfortable. He is quick to make points. He uses a few illustrations or examples of people to further explain ideas.
2. Quotes I love.
From chapter 4:

First, sanctification is a direction you are heading. Second, repentance is a lifestyle you are living.

This life is not righteous, but growth in righteousness; it is not health, but healing; not being, but becoming; not rest, but exercise; we are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it; the process is not yet finished, but it is going on; this is not the end but it is the road; all does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified. Martin Luther.

From chapter 7.

The more obviously destructive sins and sufferings can actually be easier to deal with. The subtler sins can be more stubborn, pervasive, sneaky, and delusive.

3. A few things I learned that I’d not considered before:

A. People act out sexually for a variety of reasons. For example, to feel loved or approved. Another reason is anger.

Sexual acting out can be a way to express anger.

B. The aftermath of an abuse victim. How they see themselves as a victim.

There is an eternity of difference between ‘I am a survivor’ and ‘I am beloved of Jesus and am finding refuge and hope in the Lord of life.’

Making All Things New is a brief overview of sexual sin. It does not cover extensively victims of sexual abuse. I feel the book is addressed more to those who struggle with sexual sin and not a book for those who are seeking information for victims of sexual abuse. I am a victim of sexual abuse. This book has been helpful but not extensive. Making All Things New is a tool for readers-it is a beginning point.