The effects of childhood sexual abuse are widespread and have a profound impact upon the victim’s life. In the following excerpt from an interview by Christianity Today, Dan Allender addresses how kindness can have a part in the healing process of child sexual abuse victims.
Just over 25 years ago, Christian therapist Dan Allender released The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse. For thousands of victims suffering the aftereffects of sexual trauma, it became a trusted guide. Now, after decades of clinical practice, Allender has published a follow-up: Healing the Wounded Heart: The Heartache of Sexual Abuse and the Hope of Transformation (Baker). Author Mary DeMuth, who has written widely about her own recovery from childhood sexual abuse, spoke with Allender about the spiritual contours of healing and the importance of kindness to victims.
What have you learned about the aftermath of sexual abuse since writing The Wounded Heart?
We now know much more about the brain. We know, for example, that trauma shuts down the left functional lobe where language resides. We have always known that trauma victims have fragmented memories, but now we have a clearer understanding of why.
The more we understand about the psychology of sexual abuse victims, the greater the potential for showing kindness. We can say, “This is what one would expect given the harm.” When clients have a better understanding of the neurology of trauma, it opens the door to greater kindness toward themselves.
You can read the full interview on ChristianityToday.com.
For information about how your church can prevent abuse, check out the Church Board Guide to a Sexual Abuse Prevention Policy. The Reducing the Risk Quick Start Kit offers tips on how your church can ensure the safety of children within the church.
Elizabeth Jackson is the editorial intern for Church Law & Tax.
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