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The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

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Come to terms with your past while moving powerfully into the future The Courage to Heal is an inspiring, comprehensive guide that offers hope and a map of the healing journey to every woman who was sexually abused as a child—and to those who care about her. Although the effects of child sexual abuse are long-term and severe, healing is possible. Weaving together personal ex Come to terms with your past while moving powerfully into the future The Courage to Heal is an inspiring, comprehensive guide that offers hope and a map of the healing journey to every woman who was sexually abused as a child—and to those who care about her. Although the effects of child sexual abuse are long-term and severe, healing is possible. Weaving together personal experience with professional knowledge, the authors provide clear explanations, practical suggestions, and support throughout the healing process. Readers will feel recognized and encouraged by hundreds of moving first-person stories drawn from interviews and the authors' extensive work with survivors, both nationally and internationally. This completely revised and updated 20th anniversary edition continues to provide the compassionate wisdom the book has been famous for, as well as many new features: Contemporary research on trauma and the brain An overview of powerful new healing tools such as imagery, meditation, and body-centered practices Additional stories that reflect an even greater diversity of survivor experiences The reassuring accounts of survivors who have been healing for more than twenty years The most comprehensive, up-to-date resource guide in the field Insights from the authors' decades of experience Cherished by survivors, and recommended by therapists and institutions everywhere, The Courage to Heal has often been called the bible of healing from child sexual abuse. This new edition will continue to serve as the healing beacon it has always been.


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Come to terms with your past while moving powerfully into the future The Courage to Heal is an inspiring, comprehensive guide that offers hope and a map of the healing journey to every woman who was sexually abused as a child—and to those who care about her. Although the effects of child sexual abuse are long-term and severe, healing is possible. Weaving together personal ex Come to terms with your past while moving powerfully into the future The Courage to Heal is an inspiring, comprehensive guide that offers hope and a map of the healing journey to every woman who was sexually abused as a child—and to those who care about her. Although the effects of child sexual abuse are long-term and severe, healing is possible. Weaving together personal experience with professional knowledge, the authors provide clear explanations, practical suggestions, and support throughout the healing process. Readers will feel recognized and encouraged by hundreds of moving first-person stories drawn from interviews and the authors' extensive work with survivors, both nationally and internationally. This completely revised and updated 20th anniversary edition continues to provide the compassionate wisdom the book has been famous for, as well as many new features: Contemporary research on trauma and the brain An overview of powerful new healing tools such as imagery, meditation, and body-centered practices Additional stories that reflect an even greater diversity of survivor experiences The reassuring accounts of survivors who have been healing for more than twenty years The most comprehensive, up-to-date resource guide in the field Insights from the authors' decades of experience Cherished by survivors, and recommended by therapists and institutions everywhere, The Courage to Heal has often been called the bible of healing from child sexual abuse. This new edition will continue to serve as the healing beacon it has always been.

30 review for The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nebuchadnezzar

    This book is notorious for having helped to launch the recovered memory therapy (RMT) craze, which played into the spate of alleged incidents of Satanic ritual abuse of the late '80s and early '90s. Neither author has credentials or expertise relevant to psychology, therapy, or sexual abuse. The book was not based on any solid experimental evidence or psychological studies. Some of the case studies included have been discredited, such as the one taken from Michelle Remembers. Memory psychologist This book is notorious for having helped to launch the recovered memory therapy (RMT) craze, which played into the spate of alleged incidents of Satanic ritual abuse of the late '80s and early '90s. Neither author has credentials or expertise relevant to psychology, therapy, or sexual abuse. The book was not based on any solid experimental evidence or psychological studies. Some of the case studies included have been discredited, such as the one taken from Michelle Remembers. Memory psychologists such as Elizabeth F. Loftus and Carol Tavris have refuted the notion of repressed memories. (Though memories may be recovered, there is no special mechanism that keeps them repressed or any way of determining their validity without corroborating evidence.) RMT is currently considered patent quackery in the psychological disciplines. This book has caused irreparable damage to many people's lives. If you're thinking of buying this book, please see these links first: APA statement on memory and childhood abuse: http://www.apa.org/topics/trauma/memo... Collection of articles on RMT: http://www.religioustolerance.org/rmt... Debunking Myths About Trauma and Memory (McNally 2005): http://ww1.cpa-apc.org/Publications/A... Remembering Dangerously (Loftus 1995): http://www.csicop.org/si/show/remembe... Australian government's inquiry into RMT: http://www.health.vic.gov.au/hsc/down...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dunninghousehold

    This is the bible for sexual abuse survivors, and an indispensable resource for anyone that knows a survivor. Think you don't know anyone that was sexually abused? Think again - it happens much more than most people wish to believe, and affects the survivor and their behavior much more than even most survivors wish to believe. This book is THE book for survivors that wish to continue survival, especially one of healing. If this massive read is a bit daunting, know that you will read bits here and This is the bible for sexual abuse survivors, and an indispensable resource for anyone that knows a survivor. Think you don't know anyone that was sexually abused? Think again - it happens much more than most people wish to believe, and affects the survivor and their behavior much more than even most survivors wish to believe. This book is THE book for survivors that wish to continue survival, especially one of healing. If this massive read is a bit daunting, know that you will read bits here and there, and go back to it after long expanses of time. For me, this book has paid for itself 1000 times over, at least. It's also the perfect tool for anyone in therapy, as is the companion workbook. For anyone that is interested in this book for the purpose of supporting a survivor, the authors have written a book just for you: Allies in Healing: When the Person You Love Was Sexually Abused as a Child. There are many other books for supporters, as well, and taking the time to do the research will do as much for you and the survivor as reading the material. Without exaggeration, this book has saved lives, including my own. If you have been abused, or suspect that you have, get this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    AudryT

    There are many reviews and articles that explain the myriad concerns about how "Courage to Heal" handles its material. Below is a link to a recent one, for starters. It's also worth reading the comments underneath. FYI, the version I read was the first edition from the 90s. http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dis... I want to encourage any of you who pick up this book to research its checkered past yourself, and not just depend on the opinion of one stranger, whether mine or that in a single review, There are many reviews and articles that explain the myriad concerns about how "Courage to Heal" handles its material. Below is a link to a recent one, for starters. It's also worth reading the comments underneath. FYI, the version I read was the first edition from the 90s. http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dis... I want to encourage any of you who pick up this book to research its checkered past yourself, and not just depend on the opinion of one stranger, whether mine or that in a single review, to understand what the problems with this book are (or were in the edition I read). Fire up google and start searching for the book's title and "complaints" or "retractions" or "false memories" and so on. There's a mix of level-headed, genuine concerns, alongside some overly hostile 90s reviews that, IMO, don't actually focus on the problems of the book, but instead lash out at the changes that our culture was going through in the 90s due to women finally taking a stand for themselves and admitting openly to having been abused. There were men at the time who could not cope with the loss of authority in the arena of psychology, and let that marr any legitimate points they might have made about the book's content and the fact that the authors were not actually qualified therapists themselves. You can learn a lot about the history of psychology in this country, and the complexities of remembering and overcoming abuse, just by doing research on the reactions to this book over the past twenty years. In my case, I read this book independently at the start of studying psych in college. It got passed around my family and friends thanks to my mentioning it, and I watched in shock as a majority of them spontaneously decided, after reading the book, that someone must have abused them as a child. These were reasonably healthy, centered folks who had never thought such things before they read this book, and their personal issues were far, far different than those of individuals I knew who had vivid and documentable memories of being abused. The contrast between their bizarre out-of-the-blue reactions and the documented suffering of long-known victims was so stark, and the oddness of it so noteworthy, that I later did research on this book (once the internet began to have actual content to research on it -- this was a long time ago) and discovered there were other people who had stories about reading the book, pointing accusing fingers at random male relatives and friends, and then slowly realizing that they had never actually been abused by those males, but that the book had worked them up into a hysterical lather that turned the simple and understandable *fear* of abuse into a false belief of *actual* abuse. I've seen people have normal, healthy relationships damaged thanks to the way the book handles its subject matter, which is very frustrating, since creating imaginary victims negates the genuine pain that real victims go through, along with creating unnecessary pain for people who have not actually suffered that pain. There are horribly abused individuals who have said this book was useful to them. I can't vouch for this, but assume if you really do have a dark history to cope with, there's definite value to this book. But whatever that value is can likely be found in other, less strident books, and especially found with the aid of a competent, qualified therapist, who will do more for most individuals than a whole raft of self-help books ever could. On top of which, you will know whether or not a therapist has the actual credetials to say what they are saying going in. Credentials are not required to publish a book, no matter how serious the subject matter.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cody Wilshire

    Absolutely, completely indispensable to victims and survivors. This really has become the 'bible' and the 'life force' for so many and there's a lot of reasoning behind it. I've re-read this book countless times (probably upwards of ten?) and I continue to do so sporadically. This book helped save my life and the life of many others. I'm so glad that I found it when I did. I recommend it to so many during my volunteer work and they all just can't stop thanking me for introducing them to it. Absolutely, completely indispensable to victims and survivors. This really has become the 'bible' and the 'life force' for so many and there's a lot of reasoning behind it. I've re-read this book countless times (probably upwards of ten?) and I continue to do so sporadically. This book helped save my life and the life of many others. I'm so glad that I found it when I did. I recommend it to so many during my volunteer work and they all just can't stop thanking me for introducing them to it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jill Marie

    This was the first book in my healing process and I read it twice in therapy and again afterwards!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Zeb

    Worse than Hogwash. If there were minus stars, I'd give all of them. Reading the comments of all but the one or two other low rankers gives the exact reason why minus stars are warranted, why this is a dangerous book. Folks are getting talked into blood curdling bullshit and soon enter a nightmare, ruining their own and others lives. I'd recommend to chuck it unread in the next bin. And put a lid on. I'm shocked to see how popular it STILL is after all these years. And that therapists, or people Worse than Hogwash. If there were minus stars, I'd give all of them. Reading the comments of all but the one or two other low rankers gives the exact reason why minus stars are warranted, why this is a dangerous book. Folks are getting talked into blood curdling bullshit and soon enter a nightmare, ruining their own and others lives. I'd recommend to chuck it unread in the next bin. And put a lid on. I'm shocked to see how popular it STILL is after all these years. And that therapists, or people who call themselves therapist, still base their practice on the first, most violent, edition of this book. If you suffered real abuse, there must be better stuff than that. Don't go to a therapist who works with this book. Please. There is too much wrong with the book to go into it all. Even if half of the abuse they see everywhere was suffered by you and all, how to go about healing the hurt, according to that book, is entirely contrary to every single thing I've learned in my long life. I'll create a special shelf for this: books belonging into a bin and nowhere else.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Quinn

    This book is an incredible resource for survivors of sexual violence. While it's intened audience is women survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I believe that any survivor of sexual violence could benefit from reading it. I can't explain how helpful this book is. I've never read it straight through- it's more of a reference. My favorite part in the book is titled, "Don't kill yourself." Nearly every survivor ponders suicide as an option. It lays out several reasons why you should not kill yourse This book is an incredible resource for survivors of sexual violence. While it's intened audience is women survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I believe that any survivor of sexual violence could benefit from reading it. I can't explain how helpful this book is. I've never read it straight through- it's more of a reference. My favorite part in the book is titled, "Don't kill yourself." Nearly every survivor ponders suicide as an option. It lays out several reasons why you should not kill yourself and steps to make that happen.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Connie Backus-yoder

    I read this book almost 25 years ago and it transformed my life!!!! The painful process of reading and digesting it took a process of almost 6 months to a year and was an incredible journey!!! Finally, there were women who could help unlock the rage and anger from what had happened...had been forced upon me at age 7!! The swirling whirlpool of my existence which forever kept me from breaking free to healing and health was finally cracked and I could escape intact. Mind you, I was in my late 40s I read this book almost 25 years ago and it transformed my life!!!! The painful process of reading and digesting it took a process of almost 6 months to a year and was an incredible journey!!! Finally, there were women who could help unlock the rage and anger from what had happened...had been forced upon me at age 7!! The swirling whirlpool of my existence which forever kept me from breaking free to healing and health was finally cracked and I could escape intact. Mind you, I was in my late 40s at the time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Great tool for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Not to be taken lightly - this book will open doors for healing - but can also bring on unexpected emotions. Use in conjunction with professional counseling recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    Tremendously useful in my practice as a psychotherapist, recommend this classic book to my colleagues for their survivors.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    A passionate book which helped me a great deal as well as my husband to know what I/we were facing in terms of the road ahead in my trauma recovery. There are well laid-out details on the stages of recovery, what to expect for both the survivor and the family members, stories for the survivor to relate to, and also identified things I could look for which would be counterproductive to healing. I was relieved to see clear, direct language on how to assess and get support on recovered memories. Many A passionate book which helped me a great deal as well as my husband to know what I/we were facing in terms of the road ahead in my trauma recovery. There are well laid-out details on the stages of recovery, what to expect for both the survivor and the family members, stories for the survivor to relate to, and also identified things I could look for which would be counterproductive to healing. I was relieved to see clear, direct language on how to assess and get support on recovered memories. Many books are ambivalent on the subject, or give such an impartial response you are not sure whether to think you can trust your memories or not. This gives guidance on how to get support in assessing them, it doesn't engage in the controversy of whether they are true or not. Ultimately, this is up to the individual to sort out and to find the support they need to do so.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tsquare

    This is a book I've read a few times through my healing journey, and each time it has been profoundly helpful. At first read, it was difficult as I was conflicted about my experience. The periodic denial contrasted with periods of serious anger, and this book walked me through it all. Now, I'm beyond that for the most part, but dealing with lingering self-esteem issues (to put it lightly), I'm finding it indispensable again. This book is not out to convince anyone that anything happened to them, This is a book I've read a few times through my healing journey, and each time it has been profoundly helpful. At first read, it was difficult as I was conflicted about my experience. The periodic denial contrasted with periods of serious anger, and this book walked me through it all. Now, I'm beyond that for the most part, but dealing with lingering self-esteem issues (to put it lightly), I'm finding it indispensable again. This book is not out to convince anyone that anything happened to them, but instead is good at meeting us right where we are, wherever that is, on the rocky road of recovery.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy Bruestle

    Wow. Just, wow. This book was absolutely incredible. Extremely helpful. Probably one of the best books out there on the subject. Glad to have read it. I wish it was mine to keep and not a library book though, because I’d love to look back at it from time to time. Oh well. I guess I can just check it out again sometime down the road.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Fallon

    This was suggested to me by a friend. I survived severe physical emotional and verbal abuse as a kid. This book is a great resource for anyone who's survived any kind of childhood trauma. The questions are hard, but healing too. It's set up so that you can work on it however you are comfortable. I prefer using it alone with my journsl and God. But I will talk about it with my therapist if needed. To each their own when it comes to these things. This was suggested to me by a friend. I survived severe physical emotional and verbal abuse as a kid. This book is a great resource for anyone who's survived any kind of childhood trauma. The questions are hard, but healing too. It's set up so that you can work on it however you are comfortable. I prefer using it alone with my journsl and God. But I will talk about it with my therapist if needed. To each their own when it comes to these things.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This book has some very "hard to read" chapters. If you are ready to heal after surviving sexual abuse, I STRONGLY recommend this book to you. You will leave this book as a brand new you and some strong courageous "power-like" emotions and feelings to heal yourself, conquer the world and move forward. This book was an amazing part of my life at a very hard time. This book has some very "hard to read" chapters. If you are ready to heal after surviving sexual abuse, I STRONGLY recommend this book to you. You will leave this book as a brand new you and some strong courageous "power-like" emotions and feelings to heal yourself, conquer the world and move forward. This book was an amazing part of my life at a very hard time.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bridgett

    This book was a very in-depth look at childhood sexual abuse in women and the different types of coping, reactions, problems that come up later in life, etc. There were a lot of first-hand accounts, including poems. There was also a section on partners of the abused. I found the information easy to read and thorough.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kristalee Ann

    Definitely the bible to all bibles when it comes to childhood sexual abuse! Many work pages to work on, think about and understand so much more. This is a fabulous book, I highly recommend it to anyone who has been through a similar situation but prepare to brace yourself because the work isn't an easy process, but it's so worth it! Definitely the bible to all bibles when it comes to childhood sexual abuse! Many work pages to work on, think about and understand so much more. This is a fabulous book, I highly recommend it to anyone who has been through a similar situation but prepare to brace yourself because the work isn't an easy process, but it's so worth it!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Raddatz

    This book helped me understand what was happening to me as I experienced unknown symptoms of sexual abuse. I also learned the steps to the healing process and did the writing exercises in the book. This helped me to cope and to make it as long as I did without having to go into the hospital. It made me feel normal when every thing around me felt abnormal.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    It's worlth it's weight. Make sure you do not attempt this book alone, it will turn your life inside out, upside down before it gets better. It's worlth it's weight. Make sure you do not attempt this book alone, it will turn your life inside out, upside down before it gets better.

  20. 5 out of 5

    M. Gaffney

    This was a difficult read and the start of a difficult journey, but I’m so grateful for this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This workbook with exercises of writing, creating art, checklists and open ended questions assists survivors in the healing process. This complimentary book to The Courage to Heal helps the survivor acknowledge that it happened through simplistic way of expressing anger, loss, grief and pain of the traumatic experience they endured as a child. Not only is this book for women it could apply to men as well. It is great to have both books to refer to assist you in the healing process. Highly recomm This workbook with exercises of writing, creating art, checklists and open ended questions assists survivors in the healing process. This complimentary book to The Courage to Heal helps the survivor acknowledge that it happened through simplistic way of expressing anger, loss, grief and pain of the traumatic experience they endured as a child. Not only is this book for women it could apply to men as well. It is great to have both books to refer to assist you in the healing process. Highly recommend this book for a courageous healing process of a traumatic event.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda Rae Baker

    Great reference book and encouragement for those of us who have been through hell and back. There is truly hope for the abused. Keep your chin up. A MUST read for all...there are victums out there everywhere. Ths information is invaluable!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    This is not a casual read book, which is probably pretty obvious from the title. It made me cry, think, and deal with a lot of painful memories I had as a child. This book is unbelievable. My therapist recommended this when I was going through my divorce. I learned a lot.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jean Marie Angelo

    Read it years ago and wanted to add to my list. A wonderful guide for those in need of healing and those who love and support a survivor. Full of first person stories and creative exercises. Ellen Bass is an effective creative writing teacher for all--whether a survivor or not.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Muriel Martin

    for anyone who is a sexual abuse survivor i recommend this book and the workbook. I suggest you do this work with someone because it can bring up many painful memories,flashback or nightmares. I read this book and workbook with my therapist and it truly set me free from my past.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Deanna

    I enjoyed this one more as a book on tape. Very helpful to any survivor of abuse. Definately a must read for those in recovery or professionals that work in the field of trauma and recovery.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    The bible of incest and sexual abuse healing. If anyone truly wants to heal, you gotta read this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Recommended by Lynn for patients. Patients should be working with a therapist while working through this book. It has an associated workbook as well.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vickie

    Excellent source both on a personal and professional level. Highly recommend to anyone who works with or has been a victim of childhood sexual abuse.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    I always thought this would be a little too woo-woo for me but it turns out to be a crazy helpful book for anyone recovering from child sexual abuse. Pretty impressive in its scope and power.

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