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The Wounded Heart

4.28  ·  Rating Details ·  953 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
Sexual abuse not only destroys trust, relationships, and dreams, it also causes grief, stress, and feelings of guilt and shame. This book examines the issues surrounding sexual abuse while looking to God for restoration and peace.
- Includes information about false memory issues
- Indexed for easy reference
- Also available: The Wounded Heart Workbook
Paperback, 303 pages
Published May 1st 1990 by NavPress Publishing Group
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Not Marked by Mary E. DeMuthThin Places by Mary E. DeMuthThe Wounded Heart by Dan B. AllenderBoundaries by Henry CloudThe Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass
Sexual Abuse Books
3rd out of 44 books — 27 voters
Blink by Malcolm GladwellThe First Pillar by Roy HuffA Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le GuinEverything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran FoerProof of Heaven by Eben Alexander
2013 A
97th out of 109 books — 12 voters

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Community Reviews

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Apr 29, 2011 Teresa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: incest survivors
Shelves: psychology, self-help, csa
The trouble with most books for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse is they focus on a very specific victim profile (women whose traumatic experiences led straight to poor school performance, substance abuse or eating disorders, depression, running away, revictimization, etc). If that doesn't reflect your experience you may be left to conclude like I did that you don't need/deserve help. This book helped change my mind. Dan Allender goes beyond soothing platitudes (sometimes, "it wasn't yo ...more
Aug 25, 2012 Linda rated it it was amazing
No one and I mean NO ONE, has the intricate and clear insight and wisdom into the issue of abuse like Dr. Dan Allender. Coming through my own process of abuse was a dark and difficult journey, but I couldn't have done so without this book!
Dan Allender has a true picture of the human soul; it's longing, sinfulness and depravity, but also it's glory, beauty and heartprint of God's desire and intent.

EVERY person that has suffered at the hands of sexual abuse and those who know someone who has, must
Mar 11, 2011 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is understandably a difficult topic, but an important one to study for people who have either experienced abuse themselves, or know someone who has. Many things about this book were quite good. First of all, it gets people to start considering the topic instead of hiding away in shame or denial, a huge step, particularly in the target "faith" market. The book tackles many of the defense mechanisms abuse victims typically erect to ward off future pain. The author then tries to direct the abu ...more
Jun 24, 2011 Alissa rated it it was amazing
Read it - even if you don't think the topic applies to you. You probably know someone who has experienced childhood sexual abuse, even if you haven't experienced it yourself. And even if you don't know anyone who has experienced this terrible form of abuse, you've probably been betrayed in some way, right? This book still contains the powerful message of the gospel applied to the mess and pain of broken relationships, and as such, still has the power to change lives. I haven't been abused - this ...more
Aug 05, 2011 Richard rated it really liked it
I had to read this book for a class at Ashland Seminary and I have to say it has been eye-opening. I believe it is a must read for anyone involved with ministry. 1 out 3 women have been sexually abuse and 1 out of 5 or 6 men have been abused so it is clear that it is an epidemic. Dr. Allender's book is a great introduction to the complex issues surrounding the horror of sexual abuse. He never gets too technical but he does share some hard to read stories. I believe it is an important book and af ...more
Jan 05, 2009 Kyna rated it it was amazing
I would give this book 10 stars if I could. It is an amazing masterpiece on the subject of surviving sexual abuse. I have read other books by allender, and they are not the masterpiece that The Wounded Heart is. The workbook is equally good. I have every client who comes to me for this reason read this book. It is thorough, gracious, relentless, bold, challenging, Biblical, and necessary. If you or someone you know has been abused...THIS is the book they MUST read and work through. Visit me at K ...more
Ryan Jankowski
This is a difficult topic, but I think this book would benefit everyone.
Sep 27, 2008 Joe rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Joe by: sexual abuse victims, anyone dealing with shame related issues
Shelves: faith, restoryinglife
You might have the same reaction as Anita did when she first saw me pull out this book on a recent vacation. She was wondering if I was trying to subtly tell her something about my past. Thankfully, that isn't the case.

Rather, the pastor I have recently begun seeing for weekly private confession and absolution recommended it to me as something that's helpful for those dealing with issues of shame and the need for restoration.

The opening chapters on shame and contempt are incredible, and really h
Dee Dee Smith
Jul 23, 2013 Dee Dee Smith rated it it was amazing
As a survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse, The Wounded Heart struck a such a resounding cords of the familiar that I had to put the book down. I would not pick it up again for months, haunted because the exercises represented re-living the shame and guilt.

Yet, once I pushed through I finally get that in order to get through such an awful thing in your life you really must endure for a time some serious pain. You have to do the work to "have a life". And no, you will never be normal but I learned t
Jun 13, 2011 Dru rated it it was amazing
A very good book on sexual abuse. While very difficult to read due to its sensitive nature, it is a valuable asset to anybody who has experienced sexual abuse, wants to help somebody recover or understand it better. Allender did a very good job describing how much sexual abuse violates our human rights AND God's creation. It is devastating in so many more ways than just physical, but also psychologically, emotionally and even mentally.

As a counselor, it will be a book I refer to when needed.
Annette Gale
Mar 14, 2012 Annette Gale rated it it was amazing
Great book, but really hard to read as a victim of sexual abuse and rape, brings up many memories, so if a victim like me, read the book slowly and at your own pace. It is really easy to read and understand, and also even if you are not christian, i would still recommend this book to you because it isnt full on about God and everything else, it has a lot about sexual abuse that even a non christian person could find this book of help.
Jeremy Manuel
Apr 23, 2015 Jeremy Manuel rated it it was ok
Before getting into my thoughts about the book I feel I need to make a couple things clear. First, this is a book geared towards those who have experienced sexual abuse, and that is something that I have never experienced. I have also never known anyone who has divulged such abuse to me. So I'm coming at this book from a very outside perspective.

The second is that this book is geared towards Christians. The title doesn't really indicate that in the least, but it views belief in God as the ultima
Apr 25, 2009 Kristin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who has been sexually abused or who loves/cares about someone who has been abused.
Recommended to Kristin by: Theresa H./Mending Hearts
Shelves: christian-living
I had procrastinated reading this book for many years. The topic is not easy, but I learned so much about myself in reading it! Much of the Mending Hearts journey guides (by Open Hearts ministry) is similar to what is in this book.

page 8 - Forward by Larry Crabb

When people - through absolutely no fault of their own - are subjected to terrible crimes against God and against their souls, like sexual abuse, powerful forces are set in motion within them that make it especially frightening to give th
Oct 21, 2007 Angel rated it liked it
Recommends it for: as the subtitle says...
Another hard to read book... still haven't finished it because of my own experience -- this book is sometimes painful and disturbing because of the "cause and effect" that adults experience and reenact because of abuse occuring in childhood. i.e. a common thread of insecurities, anxieties, fears that pervade the life of the adult who has experienced these things. The book gives specific examples of common outcomes of people who've been through abuse. Tear provoking, but healing at the same time. ...more
Rod White
Oct 12, 2014 Rod White rated it really liked it
I admit that I reluctantly give this book such a high rating because it has tragic flaws: 1) Allender periodically feels surprisingly harsh even while writing about trauma! 2) I can't stand the basic "worm theology" behind what he says. He's a Westminster guy influenced by "biblical" counseling.

Nevertheless, he is periodically brilliant and I have used many of his helpful images and practical suggestions in dealing with traumatized people. He is making a good effort at coming at the practice of
David Brownlee
Feb 26, 2009 David Brownlee rated it really liked it
Good book about being sexual abuse. I strongly recommend it if you have been. I was, and found it very helpful. Showed me about the shame I had been walking in and still do at times.

Essentially look to Jesus, is what the book points out. Allender points out several reasons and stories for and why abuse happens.

Remember abuse causes confliction, there is pain and pleasure, love and hate. Understanding helps, but we do not
nor possible will ever understand why abuse happens, or how come God allow
Mar 11, 2008 Lauren rated it really liked it
the only reason i'm giving this book 4 stars instead of 5 is because i only read parts II and III, so i'd feel a bit dishonest ranking it as "amazing" only having read two-thirds. what i did read, however, was 5 star material.

this book is written to help victims of sexual abuse, though just about anyone could find it useful. for one, even if you haven't personally been affected by sexual abuse, chances are someone you love has been. furthermore, allender's call to honesty, repentance, and bold l
Jan 31, 2013 Phyllis rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: sexual abuse victoms and those who care for or love a victom
This is a very good book written on a very hard and "taboo" subject. It would be very beneficial for someone who loves or cares for someone who was abused. Also if read at the right time and at a slower pace is good for helping a victom to work through their own challenges that comes from being sexually abused. Dan does more than telling you to just forgive and understands that it is not as simple as just forgiving or forgetting.
Jul 26, 2008 Manysibs rated it it was amazing
Difficult subject, excellent help!!! I would recommend this book and workbook to anyone who has been abused, whether sexually or any other way, someone who loves someone who has been abused, therapists who need a resource for a client, and most definately every Pastor/Teacher/Mentor on the Planet!!
Mar 23, 2010 Rich rated it it was amazing
Read this book for a continuing education seminar in March, 2010. A very difficult read due to the material covered, but invaluable for understanding the mindset of people who have been victimized. I am grateful for the work that has been done in this book.
Nichole Hosek
Jul 13, 2009 Nichole Hosek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Healing doesn't happen all at once, and so absorbing all that needs to be absorbed from this book doesn't happen in one reading. An excellent resource for those healing or helping others heal from sexual abuse.
Michael McCloskey
May 26, 2009 Michael McCloskey rated it really liked it
This classic text on the tragic reality of sexual abuse has been formative and life changing for many. Even if sexual abuse is not part of your story, read this book for it's potent discussions on the structure of the human heart.
Aug 07, 2011 Mardee rated it it was amazing
The subject of sexual abuse is hard to deal with and to understand, This book is the best book to read and start the healing process of recovering from the side effects of abuse. It is right on.
May 10, 2010 Diana rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book to lead you to healing from past abuse with God's help and your willingness to be honest with yourself and others about the abuse and how it has affected you.
Jason Harris
Jun 24, 2013 Jason Harris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I believe adults working through the damage of childhood sexual abuse will find this book highly beneficial, as will ministry leaders and counsellors. Allender addresses this very difficult topic with wisdom, insight, sensitivity, and skill. In this time-tested book (first published in 1990), Allender brings counselling experience, knowledge of psychology, and biblical authority together to outline the response of the soul to being sinned against in this way (powerlessness, betrayal, ambivalence ...more
April Knapp
Jun 06, 2012 April Knapp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an honest yet gracious book on a very difficult topic. As I work in full-time ministry and also know many people who are victims of sexual abuse, I decided to read this book to better understand their struggle and also be able to offer a resource (I don't ever recommend books I have not read).

That being said, my experience with this book is one of an "outsider" or observer. I have much respect for Dan Allender as a writer and psychologist-he writes, counsels, teaches in light of the Trut
A.C. Bauch
Aug 01, 2016 A.C. Bauch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me a long time to read this book, due to an out-of-state move and all that entailed, plus the need to take a break from this kind of reading. Sometimes, it's both good and necessary to break from healing and processing "work."

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this book. Books about adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are hard enough to find, let alone those written from a Christian perspective. So I entered into reading with combined anticipation and dread. Dread, because
Dec 15, 2015 Janelle rated it really liked it
This is the 2nd book in my reading towards preparing to be an ACBC counselor. The subject matter is personal to me, so I was hopeful that in reading this, I would be ministered to as well, and better address some of the sinful ways I interact both with God and others.
I was convicted, challenged, and comforted.
I think that anyone beginning the journey to healing would greatly benefit from this book. I appreciate the way the author never blames the victim for their abuse, but also never excuses
Mar 01, 2016 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Hands down the best guide I've ever found for any victims of abuse, whether it be physical, sexual, mental, or emotional. Everyone needs this book. If you're not holding on to, or still suffering from, past hurts, neglect, or abuse, you surely know someone who has. Dr. Allender addresses several coping mechanisms and false mindsets that victims fall into, that prevent them from processing fully and achieving healing. For a Christian author he's surprisingly balanced and realistic when it comes t ...more
Mar 12, 2014 Megan rated it it was amazing
I read this book in an attempt to understand my mother's background as a childhood abuse survivor. She has never told me much by way of details of her abuse (for which I am grateful) but there have been plenty of repercussions in her life, our relationship, and our family. Allender details the dynamic of abuse, the damage caused by it, and his ideas for growth and healing. Throughout, he emphasizes that in order to gain your life, you must lose it. He does not blame the victims for their abuse, ...more
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Dan B. Allender, Ph.D, is a fly fisherman who also serves as president and professor of counseling at Mars Hill Graduate School near Seattle, Washington. He is a therapist in private practice, and a frequent speaker and seminar leader. Dan received his M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Michigan State University. He is the author of To Be Told: ...more
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“Genuine trust involves allowing another to matter and have an impact in our lives. For that reason, many who hate and do battle with God trust Him more deeply than those whose complacent faith permits an abstract and motionless stance before Him. Those who trust God most are those whose faith permits them to risk wrestling with Him over the deepest questions of life. Good hearts are captured in a divine wrestling match; fearful, doubting hearts stay clear of the mat.” 4 likes
“The damage done through abuse is awful and heinous, but minor compared to the dynamics that distort the victim’s relationship with God and rob her of the joy of loving and being loved by others.” 3 likes
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