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(Review) Journey to Heal: Seven Essential Steps of Recovery for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Crystal M. Sutherland

Publication Date: April 27, 2016
Publisher: Kregel
Genre: Nonfiction, childhood sexual abuse, healing
Pages: 176
Source: Free paperback copy from Kregel in exchange for a review.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent

Crystal Sutherland
Website for Crystal M. Sutherland
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free online study is offered June 1-July 13.

Link for more info @ Kregel: Journey to Heal.
At the above link a study guide and excerpt is available.

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Author Bio.
Crystal M. Sutherland is a writer, speaker, ministry leader, and mentor for survivors of sexual abuse. She has fifteen years of experience in ministry, including women’s ministry, youth ministry, worship, and Bible teaching. She has also written and led a women's Bible study for female survivors of sexual abuse. Her work can also be seen on her active blog (crystalsutherland.org) and in contributions to lifelettercafe.com.

Summary:
Crystal Sutherland, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, has written a book of healing for other victims.
Sexual abuse is not something a person can "get over" and move-on, as if they've had the flu. It is a lifetime journey of working towards healing.
There is not a "simple formula for healing." It requires hard work and commitment.
There are 42 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse (male and female) in America. It is important to talk about, educate, counsel, pray, and work towards healing for the "walking wounded."

Chapter One    Step 1: Commit to the Journey
Chapter Two   Step 2: Face the Truth
Chapter Three   There's No More Disgrace for You
Chapter Four   Step 3: Share Your Story
Chapter Five   Step 4: Settle the Unsettled
Chapter Six   What is God's Role in Your Story?
Chapter Seven   Step 5: Forgive and Let It God
Chapter Eight   Step 6: Discover Your True Identity
Chapter Nine   Step 7: Establish Your New Life in Christ
Chapter Ten   There Is Hope for Experiencing Intimacy
My Thoughts:
My first impressions of Journey to Heal continued to stay with me throughout the book. It is approachable, examines a tough subject with sensitivity, organized well, and the author is transparent about her life.
Each chapter has a reading section, questions, and a "Journey Essentials."
In "Journey Essentials," four steps are included: pray, Bible verses to read, "document your journey," and "develop a thankful heart."
Bible verses are located throughout each chapter. While reading, I wrote down all of the Bible verses on a separate sheet of paper to keep for future study.
Sutherland utilizes five versions of the Bible: NKJV, NLT, NASB, NIV (2011), and ESV.
At the end of each chapter is a "move forward" section. This section is brief, only a few paragraphs. But, by ending on this element we are reminded of the goal: to "move forward" past the abuse and towards healing.
At the end of the book is Appendix A----"A Prayer for Salvation." Appendix B----"A Prayer for Sexual Healing." Appendix C----"The 'I Am' Statement of Worth." Appendix D "Additional Resources for Recovery."
The book's audience is adult female survivors of child abuse. My sexual abuse happened when I was 17, the perpetrator was a boyfriend. I was able to glean strong help from reading Journey to Heal. 
Sutherland encourages the reader to keep a journal during the process of reading the book. The journal is where the questions can be written and answered.

Examples of questions:

  • "How has defining sexual abuse helped you?
  • "How has being abused affected me mentally and emotionally, even relationally?"
  • "Do you struggle with repressed anger and resentments? If so, where are those feelings coming from, exactly?"
One of my favorite sections of the book is learning "new truth." This section is located in chapter 6, and under the section of understanding our worth. 
The last chapter is addressed to married women who are in healthy relationships. I agree with the material presented in this chapter, but for me, I needed a chapter for women who are in a difficult relationship. 

A favorite quote:
After living with our wounds of abuse for so long, it can be easy to fall into a mind-set of coping with our pain, settling for mere survival instead of learning how to thrive. The notion of living free from the past may be enticing, but it can also seem frightening. The truth is, the familiarity of brokenness is easier to navigate than the unknown terrain of wholeness. For that reason, we may attempt to sabotage potential happiness because we fear what that might look like. I have seen this at work in my own life and in the lives of other survivors I know. Page 23.

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