Friday, May 4, 2012

Review: Rid of My Disgrace

Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault by Justin S. Holcomb & Lindsey A. Holcomb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars (at Goodreads)

Rid of My Disgrace will be a tremendous help to pastors looking for help understanding the issues involved with sexual assault. Portions of this book would be excellent if they could be excerpted and offered to victims and loved ones of victims. This is such a difficult subject to discuss because it is so sensitive. The scars of shame and guilt are cut deep into the hearts of victims. I fear that many of the few who have not been assaulted sexually, especially in the church, go about without a clue as to the wounds many victims are nursing. I also fear that the majority of victims believe that they are all alone in their pain, and that no one will understand, much less believe them.

My prayer is that this book will help many, many, many to find freedom in Christ and loving support within the church! All church leaders ought to read this book (even staff, teachers and nursery workers). All of our leaders need to be equipped to spot signs of abuse and to respond in a legally and biblically appropriate way. Our churches ought to be safe havens for the assaulted! 

I would also recommend this book to parents; be informed, especially when you consider the following facts: 

1) "At least one in four women and one in six men are of will be victims of sexual assault in their lifetime" (from the Introduction)
2) "women sixteen to nineteen years old have the highest rate of sexual victimization of any age group" (chapter 2)
3) Sexual assault comes most frequently from a close relative, a friend, a date, or a spouse. (my summary)
4) "sexual assault is 'one of the most underreported crimes due primarily to fear and/or embarrassment on the part of the victim.'" (chapter 2) 

A few technical concerns...

Although the content is outstanding, it is at times repetitive and, especially in the third part, very dense. The book begins by appealing to and speaking directly to victims, which is very helpful! As probing and uncomfortable dealing with this subject is, I was blessed by the guidance received from these capable counselors. The language is straight-forward and seasoned with compassion, grace, and the hope found only in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

My major qualm with this book is that I am now unsure about recommending this to all victims of sexual abuse. I could do so and suggest which portions to read, but that might prove awkward. Another option would be to save this recommendation for particular individuals whom I believe would dig in and work through the long chapters and rich doctrinal studies. The biblical theology of grace in the place of disgrace was very refreshing. However, I believe that the density of the content will unnecessarily limit the breadth of the intended audience.

What I would love to see, is a pared down edition, of about 100 pages long, that would be suitable for handing to any victim of sexual assault (or to a larger general audience). I love and appreciate what the Holcombs offer here. This volume is, overall, a great addition to the works available from a Biblical perspective on the subject of sexual assault. I recently read Doris VanStone's No Place To Cry which is also excellent, gospel-saturated, and appeals to a very wide audience. I also found and hope to begin reading very soon Dan Allender's The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse.

A final issue was the overabundance of quotations. It is very apparent that the authors are widely read, however, the final section felt overrun by heaping one lengthy quote upon another. Much of this would have been better situated in end notes with a suggested bibliography. The sources quoted are generally excellent, but I would caution against citing a popular preacher (in this case Driscoll) for technical, theological definitions. The definitions were adequate, but citing Driscoll felt more like name-dropping than good scholarship.

Conclusion...

Praise God, by his grace he is willing and able to rid me of my disgrace! Praise God for the Holcombs, gifts God has granted to the church and all who are suffering the disgrace of sexual assault. 
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