“‘We Survived’ is probably the best resource I have seen on the subject and is a “must read” for mental health professionals and those on pastoral staffs. Anyone who provides help to others would find this book helpful. The voices of the victims themselves give authenticity and will help the reader better understand sexual abuse. For any victims, survivors and/or offenders of sexual abuse, I recommend they read this book to aid them in the healing process.”–We Survived Sexual Abuse! You Can Too! Preface; Eugene (Gene) H. Benedict MA LPC-S, San Antonio, Texas.
If anyone had told me 25 years ago that I would one day be writing a book on anything about sex, I would have said, “You are crazy!”. At that time I was just coming out of an abusive marriage (The marriage was eventually annulled.) where my ex-husband had sexually abused me in ways that left me never wanting to get married again. The trauma I experienced in that relationship only compounded emotional hurts and dysfunctional attitudes about sex that I carried from my childhood.
Sex was rarely discussed or even mentioned in my family of origin. When we children were old enough to learn about the “bird and bees” or for one of our parents to have “the talk” with us, my parents’ approach was to buy us a set of books entitled The Life Cycle Library that we were told to read. Fortunately, my paternal grandmother and I had enough conversations together about sex in marriage for me to at least have the head knowledge that within the confines of marriage, sex is sacred and can be a beautiful experience between a man and his wife.
(Excerpted from We Survived Sexual Abuse! You Can Too!)
What does God say about sex? “God is the creator of sex. He set human drives in motion, not to torture men and women, but to bring them enjoyment and fulfillment” (LaHaye & LaHaye, 1976, p. 14) within the confines of marriage. The Bible clearly and repeatedly condemns the misuse and abuse of sex. Leviticus 18:6-30 gives clear warnings against the misuse of sex. Romans 2:32 (sic, Romans 1:32) stipulates that those who “commit such things are worthy of death” (NKJV). The misuse of sex is a sin against the flesh that fulfills “the lust of the flesh” (I John 2:16), according to McGee (1981).
“People who suffered sexual abuse in childhood often have no recollection of what happened, but they experience emotional problems that signal past trauma.” (Donovan & Ryan, 1989, p. 25)
“Child molestation is a rather vague term that refers to any sort of sexual approach to, or contact with, a child by an adult.” (Offir, 1982, p. 405) The technical name for the adult is pedophiliac (from the Greek for “lover of children”). Whenever a child is sexually abused by a relative, the contact is termed incest.
What is meant by the phrase “sexual abuse” used in the title, We Survived Sexual Abuse! You Can Too! Personal Stories of Sexual Abuse Survivors with Information about Sexual Abuse Prevention, Effects, and Recovery? Allender (1990) reported that in addition to sexual contact, sexual abuse could be verbal, visual, or psychological. Any violation of a child’s physical/sexual boundaries is considered abuse. This includes actions ranging from very severe contact (genital intercourse and oral or anal sex—forcible or nonforcible) to least severe contact (sexual kissing and sexual touching of buttocks, thighs, legs, or clothed breasts or genitals); exposure to or use for pornography; and, even use of a child as a spouse surrogate.
Rich (2011) offers a more detailed trifactor model than Allender (1990) to describe what entails sexual abuse. Based on Rich’s model, Orgeron lists three questions that should be asked to determine whether a behavior should be classified as sexual abuse:
• Is the behavior against a person’s will, and does he or she possess the mental capacity to understand what is happening and to give consent?
• Is the perpetrator older, bigger in size, have more authority, or mental capacity to wield power over the person?
• Did the perpetrator threaten, use force, blackmail, or use some other form of coercion with the victim?
Victims of sexual abuse are not responsible for the sin, as sexual abuse is a sin committed against an individual (Langberg, 2001a). Willingham (2001) noted that for victims of sexual abuse to carry guilt and shame over what happened is not biblical, as the abuse was out of the individual’s control. Allender (1990, 2004) also supports the premise that the perpetrator always carries the responsibility for guilt in instances of sexual abuse.
Persons who were sexually abused will find no quick answers, no easy cures, and will struggle with some issues related to the abuse all their life, according to Allender (2004). He described the effects of sexual abuse and what is necessary to heal from these effects. Allender identified powerlessness, betrayal, and ambivalence resulting from the sexual abuse as the effects that must be overcome on the journey to healing. Three things Allender pointed out that are keys to overcoming these effects are honesty, willingness to change, and a desire to help others. By honesty, Allender means not living in denial, accepting the damage done, and grieving over the losses. Furthermore, persons who were abused need to look at how they have harmed themselves and others by living out the effects of the abuse. The willingness to change may result in the abused confronting the abuser; although, Allender pointed out that confrontation is not a must for healing to occur. In some instances, confrontation is not possible. Furthermore, Allender reported that a major key to moving ahead on the journey to healing is allowing the abuse to open the heart to want to do good for others.
Yes, for someone to abuse a child sexually is sinful; and, the effects on that child are tragic. However, both the perpetrator and the child can find hope in the Lord who forgives all sin and heals all diseases (Psalm 103:3).
In We Survived Sexual Abuse! You Can Too! Pamela K. Orgeron, the Chief Author, and Editor, a Board Certified Christian Counselor, an Advanced Christian Life Coach, and a sexual abuse survivor combines her educational and life experiences to compile a book that will be helpful to others struggling with sexual abuse issues and that will help in the prevention of sexual abuse in today’s world. She divided the book into six sections. In Section One, survivors of sexual abuse share their stories of overcoming past sexual abuse to become healthy, productive citizens in today’s society. In these stories, names, locations, and other details have been changed to protect the survivors and any other innocent victims in the stories. By sharing these success stories, the author believes that sexual abuse victims will find hope and strength to face reality, pain, and the work required to recover from past abuse.
Orgeron believes that prevention is always the best medicine for any type of needed healing or pain resolved. Thus, in Section Two of this book, she includes information on and suggestions for the prevention of sexual abuse. The responses and effects of sexual abuse are highlighted in Section Three. Section Four offers information on the recovery process, including the role of parents, teachers, health care workers, and the church in helping an individual recovering from sexual abuse.
With incest too often swept under the rug in families and with the depth of the brokenness resulting from this atrocity, Orgeron felt she would be amiss to not include Section Five, “Incest: Sexual Sin in the Family”. Orgeron believes that by including this section incest victims will find hope and encouragement to no longer bury these “family secrets” in the closet but have the courage to accept what is and find healing through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
Though We Survived Sexual Abuse! You Can Too! focuses more on offering help for victims of sexual abuse, with the National Center for Victims of Crime (2012) reporting “40-80% of juvenile sex offenders have themselves been victims of sexual abuse” (¶ 9), Orgeron believes information about perpetrators and how to help them also needs to be addressed. She does this through the last section, “Section Six: For and about Perpetrators”.
Allender, D. (1990). The wounded heart: Hope for adult victims of childhood sexual abuse. Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress.
Allender, D. (Writer), & American Association of Christian Counselors (Director). (2004). Broken trust: Surviving sexual abuse [Single videotape]. In Light Learning Institute (Producer), The life enrich series: emotional issues. Forest, VA: Director.
Donovan, M. E. & Ryan, W. P. (1989). Love blocks: Breaking the patterns that undermine relationships. New York: Penguin.
LaHaye, T., & LaHaye, B. (1976). The act of marriage: The beauty of sexual love. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Langberg, D. (Writer), & American Association of Christian Counselor (Director). (2001a). Sexual abuse/rape/sexual assault [Videotape Lecture]. In Light Learning Institute (Producer), Healthy sexuality. Forest, VA: Director.
McGee, J. V. (1981). In J. V. McGee (Author). Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System. Nashville: Nelson.
Offir, C. W. (1982). Human Sexuality. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanivich, Incorporated.
Rich, P. (2011). Understanding, Assessing and Rehabilitating Juvenile Sexual Offenders (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Willingham, R. (Writer), & American Association of Christian Counselor (Director). (2001). Sexual healing: Breaking free from the guilt, shame, & the past [Videotape Lecture]. In Light Learning Institute (Producer), Healthy sexuality. Forest, VA: Director.