“It is said that the true test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

As many as one in four girls and one in six boys experience sexual abuse during childhood, and it’s estimated that as many as half of the incidents are never reported. This means that countless millions in our societies, both children and adults, carry this complex, often hidden pain. What does the path to healing look like for survivors? And how can ministry leaders, pastors, and counselors best help them as they walk this difficult road? 

Drawing on both his own experience and his wife's experience as survivors of childhood sexual abuse, minister and lecturer Tim Hein offers his expertise, practical guidance, and empathy—both for ministry leaders and for survivors themselves. How can we best respond when a survivor shares their secret with us? Where can survivors turn for encouragement when the road to recovery seems so long and lonely? Hein presents clinical data and resources alongside pastoral wisdom and care, addressing both psychological and spiritual aspects of sexual abuse.

Both for those who have suffered sexual abuse and those in a position to help them, this book is a rich resource. Filled with both sober truths and the hope of Christ, it calls survivors to take courage and walk unafraid down the road of healing.

"Drawing courageously from his own experiences as both a survivor and a long-term church leader, Tim's careful research is complemented by an empathy derived from his own personal experience. . . . This is a constructive book, navigating the issue with clarity. It is also a courageous book that unpacks the elements of complex trauma and is bold enough to tackle the question of suffering. And—despite the difficult subject—it is a safe book, an essential pastoral resource."

from the foreword by Debra Hirsch

"There are other helpful books on surviving sexual assault, but none with as much wisdom and heart as Understanding Sexual Abuse by Tim Hein. A survivor himself, Tim intersperses his own beautifully told story of healing throughout this extremely practical and biblical look at how to survive abuse and how to help those who’ve been abused. This book is a gift."

Michael Frost, Morling College, Sydney

"Only recently have survivors and Christian leaders had access to quality treatments of sexual abuse stories that do not hide from therapy or God! I felt like I was sitting in safe place across from Tim, listening to his wisdom and sharing in a survivor’s grief. Understanding Sexual Abuse is disarming in approach and creative in its mission. Here’s a great tool to help struggling survivors in their healing journey."

Andrew J. Schmutzer, professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute and author of Naming Our Abuse: God's Pathways to Healing for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse

"Before this book was even finished I knew it must be written—that Tim's story needed to be told for it contains a powerful and needed witness. Written both from personal experience and with a pastoral touch, this is a healing, wise book for victims of sexual abuse, those who love them, and anyone leading in Christian churches or ministries today."

Mark Sayers, senior pastor, Red Church, Melbourne, Australia; author, Disappearing Church and Strange Days

"This book brings together Tim Hein's insights as a thoughtul educator, pastor, theologian, and survivor of child sexual abuse. This is a courageous book. Tim vulnerably shares his story of trauma and pain and his ongoing journey toward healing. He doesn't pretend to know exactly what other survivors have experienced but instead offers his insights in ways that show understanding of the multiple impacts of abuse on survivors and offer pathways of support and healing. Survivors of abuse will find sources of healing and hope in this resource. This book is a gift to people engaged in Christian ministry. Tim draws from trauma research and biblical, theological, and pastoral foundations to equip Christian ministers to offer compassionate, careful, and well-informed support to survivors. "

Deidre Palmer, senior lecturer in Christian education, Family and Children Ministries, Adelaide College of Divinity
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CONTENTS

Foreword by Debra Hirsch
Introduction
1. A Safe Place
2. Why Abuse Hurts
3. Breaking the Power of Secrets
4. What Does Recovery Look Like?
5. Justice, Anger, and the Question of Forgiveness
6. Where Is God?
7. A Broken Hallelujah
8. Choosing Life
Acknowledgments
Notes

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