Naming Our Abuse: God’s Pathways To Healing For Male Sexual Abuse Survivors, by Andrew J. Schmutzerl, Daniel A. Gorski, and David Carlson
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.]
Kregel Press has established a very worthwhile niche in publishing a suite of books written by male survivors of childhood sexual abuse and their loved ones, and as a survivor of childhood rape and incest, and as someone who is often a bit disheartened that there are so few people who write for the massive amount of people who share my experiences given that rape and sexual abuse is automatically associated with men committing violence against women, I feel that these books help redress the resulting imbalance . This is a book that in its introduction explicitly points out this problem, and also explicitly points out the specific primary (male survivors of child sexual abuse) and secondary (friends and family and loved ones of male survivors) audience of this book as well. Among the more shocking aspects of this book is that it has a foreword written by Josh McDowell, who is among the foremost apologists in our contemporary age. It struck me that perhaps my own deep personal interest in the study of apologetics, that is, making a case for the existence and justice of God, springs from the need to justify God’s goodness and existence in my own life as the survivor of horrible abuse, and that perhaps that same situation drove Josh McDowell to his own voluminous writings on the subject as well. Perhaps there are many of us in the same tribe, as melancholy a thought as that is.
In terms of the contents and structure of this book, there is something deeply intriguing about the framework of this work. The book has three authors, each of whom give a parallel account of their own experiences, their own struggles, and their own longings. The book itself is organized in a very particular way, the sort of way that allows for both intellectual distance as well as deep engagement with the struggle with sexual abuse and its repercussions. The book is organized into several parts: the first part discusses the wreck of abuse, how it happened and the context of its occurrence. The second part discusses the accident report of the abuse, namely the areas of life that were profoundly affected in the lives of the authors by the abuse that they suffered. The third part discusses rehabilitation, or the way that the authors sought healing and wholeness in their lives, and the struggles that they faced along the way. The fourth section is about driving again, or the vision of healing and wholeness that each author has. The final section of the book, the epilogue, consists of each author’s letter to their own childhood self, something I had to do once in my own therapy.
As a short book of only about 150 pages or so, written by three authors who have written a powerful and focused “mini-memoir” of their abuse, this is a book that not only is a compellingly written account, but also a book that encourages the reader to seek to write therapeutically. Indeed, this is the sort of book that includes at the end of every part writing assignments for the reader of the book, specifically a survivor, as a way of finding therapy through writing, something that I have often considered for myself. In fact, reading this book felt like a particular challenge for me to write such a mini-memoir for myself . There is a lot that is admirable about the book–it is honest, even about uncomfortable material including incest from one’s father as well as from pedophile teachers and priests, but keeps the material to a PG-13 level and not dwelling on lurid tales or titillation, as well as such matters as secondary victimization where the victim becomes a perpetrator as well. One of the authors writes deeply moving and often sad poetry as part of the writing, viewing the writing of biblically based poetry as a way of coping with the ethical demands of God in light of the broken state of humanity. The authors are honest about the difficulties that survivors face when it comes to abuse in different aspects of life. This is a book that is well-written and deeply encouraging, with a sense of both grim honesty as well as hope and encouragement, a book worthy of appreciation, reflection, and emulation, and hopefully it will be of great worth to its intended audiences.
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