I approached No More Hurting: Life Beyond Sexual Abuse by Gwen Purdie, with considerable caution after the disappointment of Feminine Threads and I am My Sister’s Keeper, also from publisher Christian Focus. However, this is an excellent resource both for those who have experienced sexual abuse and for those who want to help them.
Purdie is the co-founder of Dove Christian Counselling in Scotland and her experience shows. Her book is filled with practical examples and stories of those she’s met and counseled.
The first three chapters work at understanding what sexual abuse is: the (horrifying, and often ignored) statistics; survival techniques victims might use; and how sexual abuse affects victims.
The next three look at the process of healing. ‘Moving On’ gives practical suggestions about when is the right time to start working issues through and how to find a counsellor who’s right for you and whom you can trust. ‘Rebuilding Trust Vertically’ looks at the character of God and knowing who he is. It doesn’t attempt a full-on theology of suffering but what is there is helpfully honest, neither skirting the issues or resorting to Christian cliches but affirming the goodness of God and his hatred of sexual abuse. ‘Rebuilding Trust Horizontally’ addresses how to have healthy relationships after abuse. Key to this chapter is a discussion of forgiveness and reconciliation which brims with helpful definitions and a godly pragmatism. Purdie gives a strong warning against moving too fast to forgiveness and has a tremendously practical discussion of whether reconciliation is feasible where the victim’s abuser is in in their family or church group.
She concludes by examining damaged sexualities and presenting a biblical view of sexuality. The Epilogue is called ‘Lives Renewed’ and there’s a strong doctrine of the Holy Spirit throughout.
Where Rid of My Disgrace struggled to find a place for therapy, ‘No More Hurting’ sees professional help as one way in which God heals. Where ‘Rid of My Disgrace’ approaches working through abuse from a theological perspective, ‘No More Hurting’ is more like a handbook on handling sexual abuse. It’s more general and that means it can offer a variety of solutions and paths to pursue for healing.
This is a tremendously hopeful book. Its well-rounded approach made me believe that ‘no more hurting’ is in fact possible, by the grace of God, as he works in his world through others.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.