Multiplication Center

The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse

May 6, 2009

51MPCY5SG8L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_ I decided that for this post I was going to take a little trip from the usual lineup of ministry, theology and leadership books that so permeate my reading and writing.  And I want to talk about a topic, and recommend a book that I think is important for all of us to consider.

As leaders in a variety of professions it is more than likely that you will come across the topic of sexual abuse.  It may be an issue that you are dealing with personally, or it may be one of your employees or volunteers.  The person I am talking about may be the person sitting in the front row of your congregation every morning listening to you preach.  Or it might be that youth who is a leader on Wednesday nights.  It could be the deacon or elder who serves the church faithfully, or it might be that singer in the worship band up front on Sunday morning.  No matter who the person is, more than likely it's an issue that is more pervasive than we would like to admit…and more than likely you know someone suffering from such abuse.

There are lots of good books on the topic of sexual abuse, but I just recently finished Dan Allender's book, The Wounded Heart:  Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse.  It is a great book.

Besides the belief that I think all types of leaders need to read such a book, especially those in ministry and the healing professions…there are a couple of reasons why I think it's innovative.

  1. Allender has great wisdom and insight on the issue of sexual abuse.
  2. Allender does a great job looking at the role of God in the healing process.
  3. Allender takes the topic very seriously, handling a very difficult subject with grace, and he does not do the disservice of throwing cliche Christian answers at it.

Allender says this at the beginning:

At times, I wonder if every person in the world, male and female, young and old, has been sexually abused.  No doubt the nature of my work biases me perspective, perhaps severely.  As a psychologist and a counselor trainer, I'm invited to enter into the lives of countless individuals: people who are your next-door neighbor, your kid's Sunday school teacher, your pastor, your physician and–this one will hurt–your wife or husband.  For so many of them, a history of sexual abuse lingers like a chronic toothache, so familiar that it is no longer recognized, dulling the senses but not interfering with the capacity to perform the routine tasks of life.  In most cases, you would never suspect who has been abused.  If asked directly, many would not recall past abuse; others would lie to avoid the shame of admitting that they were victims of one of the few crimes where the victim feels more shunned and rejected than the criminal (pp. 25).

This is not a new book, but it's an important book.  And as leaders, especially ones who work so close with many people…many of those hurting, I think it's important to have some knowledge and wisdom on the topic.  And hopefully with some insight, you will have the clarity to help that person you know or come across who has been sexually abused.  Whether you will be the one helping up close in the process of that person's struggle and healing, hopefully you will at least have gleaned some tools from this book to assist the person in finding the right help.

I wish I would have read this book earlier in my ministry.  I know now that I wouldn't have missed so many of the signs of sexual abuse that others were consciously or unconsciously trying to communicate.

Rhett Smith
Marriage and Family Therapist Associate in Private Practice, rhettsmith.com/therapy
Former College Pastor and Current Pastoral Care to Youth at HPPC, rhettsmith.com

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