Chapter OneTo Our Readers
Sexual abuse is not only prevalent in society at large but is occurring within the church as well. Sixteen years ago we began the introduction to the first edition of this book by stating that we recognized a need to inform the church about sexual abuse. As well, we wanted to provide specific materials that would enable people within the church to develop effective ministry to adults who had experienced sexual abuse as children. Over the years, while many have been helped, many continue to bear scars of childhood abuse and desperately struggle with hidden trauma that interferes with spiritual growth and relationships with others. The revised edition builds on our earlier vision of equipping members of the body of Christ to promote healing and restoration of women and men who have been victims of sexual abuse.
Our purpose is fourfold. First, we hope to provide Christian counselors, clergy, support group leaders, and those involved in ministries of care with increased understanding of the experience of childhood sexual abuse victims and to provide resources that can be used as tools in the recovery process of adult survivors and those who love them. Second, we want to help adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to identify areas of damage resulting from sexual abuse, to feel strengthened as they participate in their individual journeys of recovery, and to be encouraged that many adult survivors have experienced restoration and are living satisfying and successful lives. Third, we wish to help friends, relatives, and spouses in their efforts to be supportive to loved ones who have been victims of sexual abuse. Fourth, we offer current perspectives about ministry to adult survivors of sexual abuse over the past two decades.
The book is divided into five sections, each with a particular focus.
Section One acquaints the reader with sexual abuse as seen through the eyes of children, including life histories of adult survivors sharing some of the trauma of their childhood experiences. Special attention is given to the effects of abuse from childhood, through adolescence, and into adulthood. This section describes physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage of sexual abuse.
Section Two gives an overview of sexual abuse within the family, with guidelines for intervention in incest within families.
Section Three offers insight into some of the spiritual and psychological influences affecting sexual abuse offenders. A description of different types of offenders is presented with treatment issues that need to be addressed.
Section Four presents the BECOMERS Sexual Abuse support group recovery program, including teaching materials, illustrations, and individual homework exercises.
Section Five offers a reflection of Second Thoughts from the authors. Nearly two decades ago, we collaborated on research and preparation for writing Helping Victims of Sexual Abuse. At the present time, we write a new chapter from our individual perspectives to share with our readers ways in which God has shaped parallel ministry paths since the first edition of the book.
To the fullest extent of our knowledge, we have given credit to all the authors and other sources of materials that have been used in our research and writing. We appreciate each of these contributions to our work.
With the first edition of this book, we wrote to share our deep concern for adult victims who needed acknowledgment of the truth of their experience. Our continued prayer is that God might use this revised edition to empower the church to recognize, understand, offer hope of restoration, promote healing, and, ultimately prevent child sexual abuse.