Tag Archives: trauma

Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault

By Justin Holcomb and Lindsey Holcomb

For most survivors of sexual assault, the struggle to come to terms with such a horrific violation of one’s personal and physical boundaries can present a challenge that seem insurmountable. For some survivors, this struggle is further complicated by questions of sin and how to reconcile Biblical teachings with the traumatic violation that occurred. This book aims to address concerns specific to Christian religious teachings about sin, morality, transgressions against others and God, and the possibility healing and recovery after having experienced sexual assault. The authors discuss the emotional impact of sexual assault and different responses victims may experience, and then offer religious interpretations and teachings that show the ways by which faith in God and Jesus Christ offer solace, healing, and redemption. Throughout the book and in each chapter, the authors return to the notion of grace and disgrace, emphasizing the unconditionality of each. Early on, the authors define disgrace as “one-way violence” committed against a person, and that person bears no responsibility for the pain caused to them. They also reiterate the healing power of grace, “one-way love,” offered unconditionally by God to provide redemption, healing, and hope of a better future.

“Rid of My Disgrace” by Justin Holcomb and Lindsey Holcomb offers thoroughly researched and clearly presented arguments about the possibility of redemption following the sin and disgrace of sexual assault. Both authors have experience supporting survivors of sexual assault, and their definitions and explanations align with the commonly cited examples of varied emotional responses to sexual assault. They also personalize the story, offering narratives from individual survivors at the start of each chapter in the section dealing with responses to sexual assault. This humanizes the information and helps make it more accessible to survivors by showing examples of how others have dealt with similar situations. The authors then follow up each response with clear connections to scripture and religious teachings that show how sexual violence is never the fault of the victim, offer examples of recovery, and express the importance of accepting unconditional love and grace from God as part of the recovery process. The chapters in the middle of the book follow a predictable pattern (personal story, emotional response, scriptural teaching), and the book itself flows nicely by starting with an introduction to the issue of sexual violence and closing with an emphasis on hope and healing.

As someone who currently has a fair amount of distance from Christianity, I still found this book to be relevant and applicable. The descriptions, definitions, and examples of sexual violence and the possible impact it may have on survivors matched everything I have encountered as an advocate doing this work, and their suggestions for supporting others or seeking support are spot on. Although I may not necessarily agree with everything presented in this book, I do feel able to endorse it as a source of understanding and help on the issue of sexual violence as it intersects with Christianity. If you have need of this book, it is would be a good resource.


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Trauma Stewardship

By Laura van Dernoot Lipsky

Working, volunteering, or being active in any way against injustice takes a significant toll on those fighting the good fight. Whether researching endangered species in remote jungle or alpine locations, providing emergency medical care on the front lines of war or poverty, or sitting in the mucky emotional aftermath of experiencing trauma with those sharing their stories, the negative impact of these circumstances have far-reaching ramifications. Instead of continuing the conversation around burnout, compassion fatigue, or vicarious trauma, Laura van Dernoot Lipsky suggests taking a stewardship approach to coping with trauma exposure as a result of one’s work. As environmental stewardship involves caring for and protecting environmental resources, trauma stewardship requires attention to our own capacities and managing our own well-being. Lipsky identifies several ways in which trauma exposure response interferes with one’s ability to be present and engaged both at work and in other areas of life, and suggests several practices for deepening attention to the impact of trauma exposure and cultivating habits for effectively managing trauma exposure response. Throughout the book, Lipsky illustrates the importance of these lessons with personal narratives of professionals engaged in caring work and making change once they recognized the impact of trauma exposure response, offering concrete examples of how to fight the good fight in a sustainable way.

“Trauma Stewardship” brings a new approach to the vast and vastly underestimated subject of trauma exposure. Having worked professionally for many years in fields responding to various types of trauma, Lipsky also presents this information with the understanding that folks doing this work often feel the work is more important than breathing. When identifying the impact of trauma exposure response, Lipsky provides examples of changes in attitudes and behavior that specifically show up at work, and also describes how these changes impact personal relationships and well-being beyond the walls of “the office” (however those boundaries manifest in different fields). Lipsky also offers suggestions for how to effectively manage the impact of trauma exposure response, identifying several strategies and practices for staying present and engaged with work (rather than numbing), staying centered and grounded (rather than losing all sense of emotional boundaries), and staying physically, mentally and spiritually healthy (rather than not). Based on many years of working in trauma-related fields, Lipsky shares this information with alarming insight and accuracy, but with a sense of offering medicine. This information may not be nice to hear, but it is necessary to hear because of the impact it can have on our world, our communities, and ourselves.

This is an incredibly important book. As someone who bears witness to trauma on a regular basis through my chosen profession, and also as someone who supervises other people who choose to bear witness to trauma, this is a book I will carry with me and continually reference throughout my work. The lessons provided in this book are so spot-on they can’t be ignored, and the suggestions for stewardship are so accessible that it only makes sense to integrate them into daily life. Highly recommended for anyone who strives to end any type of injustice.

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