The purpose of this book is to create companions who will sustain adults on their journey to healing after childhood sexual abuse. While the book is focused on companionship as a church ministry, it is not limited to that context. Every reader will find helpful content, including reasons why childhood sexual abuse is so damaging for many years, misunderstandings and stereotypes of childhood sexual abuse, characteristics of environments that create a climate open to ministry to victims versus environments that foster the climate that silences and shames victims, and the redemptive experience of creating personal meaning after its destruction during trauma.
What is companioning?
A companion is a person with many privileges. One is that he or she travels alongside another person. In fact, that is the most common view of a companion, one who “comes alongside” for a period of time, ranging from short to long. Another is that the companion is intended to complement the traveler. That view sees the companion as having qualities, such a personality traits or certain skills, that assist the traveler who lacks the very qualities offered by the companion. A beautiful visual is a nautical one: the companion is the raised frame with windows on the quarterdeck that allows light onto the decks below.
For what journey is the companion needed in this book?
The journey focus in this book is that of healing and recovery from childhood sexual abuse. Childhood sexual abuse is a common tragedy in our culture that also occurs in contexts defined as “Christian,” such as youth groups, church camps, and families. In the Christian culture, insufficient information and misleading stereotypes about childhood sexual abuse have resulted in wrongful choices regarding victims and offenders among pastors, ministry staff, youth workers, and church leaders.
Christian worldview of sexual abuse
Reading and hearing about childhood sexual abuse both frightens and compels Christians. Widespread media coverage has the unfortunate effect of motivating fear-based responses, such as overly rapid implementation of a child protection policy by church leaders, to conclude that “we have taken care of that.” However, an accurate understanding of the tragedy of childhood sexual abuse requires digesting extensive mental health scholarship and contemplating difficult and emotionally challenging content. That information, however, builds a compelling call to respond lovingly and Biblically to adult victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Wait, you are saying. I do not call myself a Christian. I am reading this book to better understand a Christian client I am helping, or because I am interested in the topic in general. Are you going to be too preach-y for me? No. I will present content in a Christian perspective not characteristic of secular academic writing for mental health professionals. But that perspective will enhance your multicultural knowledge, skills and attitudes for clients with a strong faith history and/or commitment.