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I found this a very useful book. It made sense of many things I was experiencing and made me realise I was not alone. I can't comment much on the criticising of the book in regards to "repressed memories", as I was already in therapy for abuse before being introduced to the book. But it describes things in easy to understand language, and uses examples from other people's experience. It is encouraging to not only learn that you are not alone or going crazy, but that other people have been there and come out of it. It is quite comprehensive, discussing things from common symptoms or reactions to abuse, and the problems it may cause, to learning to accept and choose to heal from the abuse. Also including chapters that are useful for a therapist you read, as well as for those others supporting a victim, and stories from other "survivors" of child sexual abuse.
Thank you for taking the time to write such a great review. I have just borrowed a copy of this book and yes, it is quite intense but the most helpful book I've read to date so far. Definitely a book than can be referred to again and again.
My sister read this book and suddenly had a repressed memory of childhood abuse by six different individuals. She got into RM groups and was contacted by a lawyer. After destroying our lives and spending thousands of dollars defending our father and brother, an unbiased medical examination she had before these accusation even arose proved that not only was she never abused, but she was still a virgin. Despite this she still believes that our father and brother raped her. She now will have nothing to do with our family. If you go to http://www.stopbadtherapy.com/courage/intro.shtml you can read the following The Courage to Heal is totally ignorant of research findings about the functioning of human memory. That should be no surprise. Its authors by their own admission have no training, education, or license to diagnose or treat mental illnesses. Yet the authors of The Courage to Heal confidently promote their book as a tool for recovering from repressed memories of abuse that must have occurred--even if there is no evidence and a woman has no recollection of ever being abused. Would you allow an amateur with no medical training to operate on your heart? Of course not! Why, then, would any sensible person allow two amateurs to operate on her mind? The dangers are just as great This isnt the only website with proof you should avoid this book. A simple internet search shows hundreds of other just like us. I warn you to avoid this book at all cost or it can destroy your life.
"One out of three girls and one out of seven boys is sexually abused by the age of eighteen. All sexual abuse is damaging and the trauma does not end when the abuse stops." ? from The Courage to Heal I would never have said that I was the sort of person who believed in things like counselling and self help books. I never believed that talking about your problems would help much and as for self help books, didn?t they just get you desperately repeating "I'm a worth while person!" whenever you got upset by anything? So when it was suggested that I go for counselling, I kept finding excuses not to. But before I start to digress, I'll get to the point. It was my counsellor who suggested this book to me, but I still wouldn't have got it if she hadn't given me a copy of a particular chapter of it. I am not quite sure what I expected from it, but was very surprised to find that it actually suggested practical solutions for working through your particular problems. So, to cut a long story short, I bought the book. The book is aimed at 'women survivors of child sexual abuse' (from here on referred to as 'survivors'); although I have also heard that survivors of physical child abuse have found it useful. It is written by group therapist Ellen Bass, who is also the partner of a survivor, along with Laura Davis, herself a survivor. They have gathered together the experiences of hundreds of abuse survivors and the experiences from some of the partners supporting them. Together with their own experience and knowledge they have put together this book; which is frankly changing my life and quite possibly the lives of many others. It provides everything from sound practical advice to healing resources. The first part of the book prepares you for what is basically going to be a changing journey in your life. It tells you how best to use the writing exercises and then goes on to 'taking stock'; which basically gets you to assess where you are in your life and your healing. Then it gets to work on going through different stages in order to overcome the particular problems you have experienced due to the abuse. It covers things from feelings and trust to self esteem and sex. Of course everyone's experience is different and everyone reacts differently to it. The writers realise this and for every experience there seems to be a way to work through it. They don?t claim to make everything in your life perfect. One of the quotes included was something along the lines of: 'you will always have a scar, but the wound needs lancing to get the puss out.' I have a lot of self destructive habits and before reading this book I never actually connected them to my past experience. I was surprised at what I recognised in the descriptions; not only in myself, but also in other women who I know to be survivors. However, the most poignant part for me, a turning point if you like, was reading the stories of "Courageous Women" towards the back of the book. If I might explain; I have always minimised what happened to me. There are so many people who have been through much worse than me, so I wondered if I was making a fuss about nothing. As I read about the experiences of some of these "Courageous Women" I initially began to believe all the more that I was just making a fuss. After all, most of these women had suffered terrible abuse, often both physical and sexual. But then I came across a story by a woman whose sexual abuse was very minor in comparison. This woman had physically experienced less sexual abuse than me. Yet her experience was still one which deeply affected her. It took her a long time to realise that it had affected her and in what ways it had manifested itself in her life. It made me come to accept that what my abuser did was wrong, no matter how major or minor it had been. Once I realised that and stopped b laming myself for what had happened, I could start to properly read the book and begin my own healing. I could also look at the other stories in a new light and think that if they could heal from their experiences then so could I. As you read the book, the writers lead you through a step by step healing process. However, they make it clear that this is not necessarily the order that you will personally go through. You may not need to work through some of the issues or they may be too hard for you to face at that particular time and you can go back to them. In fact you will probably often go back and forth through the book as it refers you to other pertinent sections. It is not a book you can just read once from the beginning to the end. Although just reading is a start and helps; if you really want to get the most from the book you will need to do the writing exercises that are suggested. I?m not going to tell you these are easy. I found writing the hardest part, because it was the first time I had actually put into words things that had happened. I was writing about things that ashamed of. I always felt that if anyone heard these things they would be disgusted and putting it down in writing was like telling the whole world and waiting for them to judge me. Throughout the book there are a lot of quotes from survivors. These are used as an example for the point the writers are trying to make; however, I also found them a continual reassurance that I?m not the only one to have gone through this. Sometimes you need reassurance that you are not crazy or making it up. Even if you know you are not making it up, you can still wonder if anyone else will believe you. This brings me to another point that the writers often make, which is believe in yourself and believe that it wasn?t your fault; which is something that I still sometimes need reassurance on. Although there are sections which don't apply directly to me, I still found it useful to r ead them. In some cases I was surprised to find parts which I could relate to. Other sections are for supporters of survivors, which includes a large part for partners. Reading through this helped me to see how my partner may be feeling about what we are going through. Because if you are in a relationship then this is something you both have to go through, not just the survivor. Personally I think that the partners section is a wonderful resource for partners. It reassures them that they are entitled to their own feelings and time. It also explains to them why the survivor may be acting the way she does. At the end of the book there is a section on healing resources for the UK, USA and Australia. This gives contact details for helpful places like WAR (Women Against Rape) and the NSPCC. They include suggestions on where to go to find out about resources local to you. There is also an extensive bibliography where you can find further useful reading material including resources for male survivors. The only thing that really goes against this book is that it is quite intense. Some of the stories from other survivors, as helpful as I found them, are quite detailed and could be upsetting, particularly if you are just starting to face these issues. Therefore I would recommend that it is best read in conjunction with counselling and with a good support base behind you. If you are just starting out with your healing then you may want to consider the book 'Beginning to Heal' by the same authors. I believe that this is a scaled down version of 'The Courage to Heal' and is less intense. This one is also helpful to male survivors (at least the updated one is, if not the earlier ones). The Courage to Heal ? Ellen Bass and Laura Davis is printed by Vermilion. The cover price is £12.99, but I got it from Amazon for £9.09. It is probably also possible to borrow it from your local library.
This has long been the classic recommendation for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to read.....I have yet to read the newer "Beginning to Heal" or the other book suggested in this section currently, "Breaking Free", but imagine they may well be better beginning books than this one. I have a number of concerns about "Courage to Heal", based mainly on its possible effect on abuse survivors just beginning their healing journey, and they are as follows: 1 It's a *very* intense read, and possibly too hard for many people just starting to deal with this part of their lives...don't try it without loads of support. 2 The exercises are in my opinion, much more suited to someone further along the road to healing, and could be very counterproductive attempted too early, or without adequate support. 3 The attitude is expressed by the authors that if you *think* abuse happened, then it must have done, and many of the exercises rely *very* heavily on imagination filling the gaps. Memory is a fascinating and imprecise thing, and it's very bad therapeutic practice to "lead" a client/survivor into constructing memories they're not sure of. If it's important to their/your healing, they/you'll recover unrecovered memories in time, but there's equally a need to learn to live with what can sometimes be unknowable. 4 There are wide generalisations made about the effects of abuse which *could* lead to someone feeling "well I have these symptoms, so I must have been abused" In summary, I think the book is worth dipping into if you have mainly clear memories or you have been thinking about and working on healing for a while, but needs to be treated with care in any case. I imagine there was a time when this was a totally groundbreaking work, after all, it's not *such* a long time since Freud dismissed claims of childhood sexual abuse as wish fulfilment. In some ways, the False Memory Syndrome Foundation have reinforced those appalling views, so ignorance and prejudice and disbelief are still being fought today,and I feel this book is to a large extent a response to that, but there are other gentler books out there now - if you're just starting out, try them first!
This book is the one that most Survivors and professionals tend to hear about first when they are looking for support for this very difficult subject. The books deals with the question 'Am I a Survivors' as some people question whether what happened to them was abuse. Looks at the linked feelings of grief, anger and how to move on and begin to heal Guidance on self destructive behaviour including low self esteem intimacy and sexuality. Gives insights to others close to the Survivor including partners family members and counsellors Uses stories from other Survivors. Gives information on further support. Although this is a very well written book I think it is a bit long for someone starting the process of healing. There are some distressing accounts of other Survivors which can prove upsetting for someone who is vulnerable. They have infact produced a cut down version called Beginning to heal ( see other review) If I was advising anyone which book to read first I'd say Breaking free (see other review) before this. ISBN 0-7493-0938-5