Journey To Heal: Seven Essential Steps Of Recovery For Survivors Of Childhood Sexual Abuse, by Crystal M. Sutherland
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.]
Although I am admittedly not the target audience of this book in some respects—this is a book written to encourage female survivors of child sexual abuse in their journey to healing, after all—there is still a great deal that I can relate to in this particular book, even if it is not precisely written with me in mind. As is often the case with a book like this, there are only two reasons why someone is going to read this kind of book: either they or a close friend or family member is a survivor of sexual abuse and they either wish for healing for themselves, or wish to encourage others. Like any book written about this subject , this book is a tough read. The author spends a great deal of time sharing her own story with its generational patterns of dysfunction, and sharing the stories of other women she has known, all in the sort of friendly way that one would imagine a Southerner in one’s acquaintance chatting about the most intimate matters over coffee, punctuated by comments like “Bless his heart,” in discussions about her husband. This book is written in a conversational style, despite its harrowing subject matter, and if you appreciate the tone and wish to read a book about healing from sexual abuse with God’s help written by a gracious Southern woman, this book offers a great deal of encouragement and biblically-based discussion.
In terms of the content and organization of this book, the book is straightforwardly organized and has just over 160 pages of material, making it a short read. Aside from introductory acknowledgements, a statement to the reader that they are not alone in struggling with the aftermath of child abuse (and surely there are many of us, far too many of us), and a closing encouragement to continue in the journey of faith, the book consists of ten chapters and four very brief appendices. The ten chapters of the book consist of seven steps along the journey to healing: committing to the journey, facing the truth, sharing your story, settling the unsettled, forgiving and letting go, discovering your true identity as a child of God, and establishing your new life in Christ as well as three additional chapters that remind readers that there is no more disgrace for believers in God, God’s providential role in what may often seem like an unpromising story, and encourage readers to believe that there is hope to experience intimacy without the horrors of flashbacks and nightmares and panic attacks for those of us who struggle mightily with PTSD. The appendices of the book include a version of the sinner’s prayer, a prayer for sexual healing, several “I am” statements of worth for readers, and additional books and websites that are resources for recovery, some of which I have found to be useful for myself personally.
In general, I do not believe that the disparity between the numbers of men and women who have suffered from sexual abuse is so great as to justify the immense disparity in the number of books written for men and women. Even so, it is impossible to be upset about a book that is as humane and as deeply personal as this one. The book is written particularly strongly on an emotional level, and the book offers some very sound advice that its readers should appreciate. For one, the author reminds the reader that despite all that has happened to us, and despite all of the screwed up decisions we may have made ourselves, God still loves us, and has not abandoned us in our despair, and that true healing requires God’s help. On a more practical level, the author urges the readers of the book to keep a “truth journal,” and every chapter includes suggestions on what to write down, as well as reminders on how to be grateful. Aside from the general worth in keeping a journal, among the more helpful exercises is to write a burn list of all the things one wants to let go of, and then to actually burn the list. As a book that is written about a common and immensely vexing problem, and as a work written with both emotional sensitivity and practicality, it is a book that should encourage and motivate a great many women who read it, and perhaps a few men as well.
 See, for example: