Caring for Survivors of Abuse

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In response to a recent forum discussion about what the church is doing for male survivors of sexual abuse, Dr. Andrew J. Schmutzer wrote to me to share a resource that might be helpful to pastors and other caregivers in understanding the impact of sexual abuse and how best to care for survivors.

His book, The Long Journey Home, shares the insights of over two dozen psychologists, theologians, and those in pastoral care, relating to the topic of sexual abuse.

Designed as a resource for pastors, church leaders, counselors, social workers, group leaders and survivors and family members, The Long Journey Home combines current research in mental health with theological and pastoral reflection. This book provides important and timely information and advocacy for the men and women living with the devastating effects of sexual abuse and rape.

The Long Journey Home, which is divided into three sections, looks at the issue of sexual abuse from three distinct angles.

Part 1 helps readers understand sexual abuse through the lens of the social sciences. Chapters cover topics such as definitions and prevalence of sexual abuse, the dynamics of a sexually abusing family, understanding abusers and the risks they pose, dissociation and abuse, and the impact of abuse on sexual identity.

Part 2 helps readers look at the topic of abuse from a theological perspective. Chapters cover topics such as a theology of sexuality and its abuse, sexual abuse in the Old Testament, God’s healing power, and the nature of evil in child sexual abuse.

Part 3 addresses sexual abuse through the lens of pastoral care, including “A Charge for Church Leadership,” and:

  • What every minister should know about sexual abuse
  • Spiritual formation and the sexually abused
  • Counseling the abuse victim
  • Confronting abuse
  • Adult survivors
  • The spouses of adult survivors
  • Childhood abuse survivors as parents

Helpful appendices include the stories of both male and female survivors of sexual abuse as well as prayers for survivors and a list of web-based resources.
 

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Thanks for the post! I'm convinced, due to the prevalence of abuse, that if our churches were better at responding to it, we would not have to worry about dwindling numbers in our churches; they would be full.

Churches have huge potential in the area of responding to abuse and those impacted by it. I often like to emphasize the value of a listening ear (we all have two of them) and a ministry of presense, which is so valuable. It's important to note that churches are not alone in this. Churches can act in a "walk-alongside" role with someone who is seeking other community and professional resources. Though churches rarely will have all the resources that are needed in dealing with abuse situations, we have unique resources, with our Lord and with his people, that are simply not available anywhere else. We need to do our part.