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Karen A. Duncan, Healing from the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse The Journey for Women.

Karen A. Duncan, Healing from the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse The Journey for Women. Westport, CT: Praegar 2004, $39.95 hardcover.

Childhood sexual abuse is a topic that, while difficult to read about, is one that must be confronted by both its victims and those who help them to heal. This book is devoted to the journey women victims of childhood sexual abuse take during their healing process. As such, it offers an interesting perspective that includes not only personal narratives from women who have been traumatized, but also offers a detailed therapeutic process related to each stage of the traveler's journey and examples of women's struggles along the route. Divided into ten chapters that mirror the therapeutic sequence and an equal number of appendices, this volume provides useful insights for both healers and those being healed. The book uses humanistic, cognitive and feminist perspectives as its theoretical underpinnings, is well documented, has a user friendly index, limited bibliography, and a list of some suggested resources.

Its strengths lie in its frank discussions of each stage of the therapeutic process as described by those providing the therapy as well as those receiving it. There are detailed and frank discussions related to the initial trauma of sexual abuse, remembering specifics, recognizing familial patterns of abuse, and prolonged problems that stem from childhood sexual abuse. Moral and legal issues associated with exposing perpetrators are explored and central to the book's purpose is the therapeutic process that evolves with various stages of healing. Each chapter ends with a section called "supporting your healing" which encourage victims to use as they move through their unique healing experiences. A lovely feature of the book is the way that the voices of the women who have been traumatized buy childhood sexual abuse are loudly heard throughout. The final chapter is devoted to letters from those who have worked with the author and now share their experiences with others who may be in the recovery process.

As helpful as the ten chapters are the ten appendices that present useful information in the form of checklists related to topics like the characteristics of healthy families, distorted thought patterns, symptoms of chronic shock and tactics for establishing boundaries and forgiveness. When used in tandem with the therapeutic sequence, these appendices will be exceedingly helpful to both the helper and those being helped.

Those wed to therapeutic approaches and theoretical orientations that do not embrace a narrative approach with its emphasis on the strengths perspective (where the client's unique story is the basis for treatment) may have some trouble with the book's approach, but there is enough cognitive content to woo even the most conservative behaviorist into believing that this treatment approach has merit. While presented in a linear fashion, the treatment approach is not wholly linear as each woman's journey takes unique twists and turns. For those academics who pooh-pooh anything that appears to be of the "self-help" variety, this book may not rise to their level of "scholarship." However, academicians, therapists, and helpers who are looking for an easily readable, well documented book that does not shy away from all the issues confronting women who have suffered childhood sexual abuse, should recommend this to their students, clients, and friends. Finally, for those women who have been victims of the horror of childhood sexual abuse, this volume presents one way to begin the healing process.

Carol T. Tully

University of Louisville
COPYRIGHT 2006 Western Michigan University, School of Social Work
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Tully, Carol T.
Publication:Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2006
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