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The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  1,220 ratings  ·  79 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, 304 pages
Published July 1st 1995 by NavPress (first published May 1st 1990)
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Not Marked by Mary E. DeMuthThe Wounded Heart by Dan B. AllenderThin Places by Mary E. DeMuthBoundaries by Henry CloudRid of My Disgrace by Justin S. Holcomb
Sexual Abuse Books
52 books — 37 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
109 books — 12 voters

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Community Reviews

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4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,220 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Apr 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: incest survivors
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Mar 05, 2012 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
Jun 24, 2011 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
Mar 11, 2011 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
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't recommend this book enough. I can't warn the reader enough about this book.

I don't mind sharing at all: I am a victim of sexual abuse. The further I get through my recovery, the more important I find transparency to be on this topic. We need to make a safe environment for people to talk about this heinous occurrence. The dark can't hide if we shine a light directly on it. When I was 5 (or 6? not sure?), I was raped. For years, I struggled with the immediate after effects: anger, hurt, d
Aug 05, 2011 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
Jeremy Manuel
Feb 23, 2015 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
Sep 27, 2008 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
Jan 05, 2009 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.
Dee Dee Smith
Jul 23, 2013 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
Oct 21, 2007 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
May 01, 2013 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
Mar 11, 2011 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 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.
Oct 02, 2008 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
Mikayla Gardner
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The wonder of the gospel that ultimately captures the wounded heart is that in spite of our hatred and rebellion towards God, Christ died for us, and His Spirit pursues us to the ends of the earth. His faithful pursuit is not stymied by our hatred or ambivalence, our lack of faith, or our refusal to trust. In fact, His steps doggedly pursue even when we assume we are most incapable of receiving or even desiring grace. At times His penchant to pursue in the present invokes even greater hatred th ...more
David Brownlee
Feb 26, 2009 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
Valene Hill
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
First of all, I believe in God; however, I'm spiritual and not religious. I've read many self help books on sexual abuse, and this by far was one of the worst ones. I feel that the Author is pushing his beliefs of God, and interpretations of the Bible on the abuse victim. I was never so angry reading a book before. His God and the way I view God are on different ends of the spectrum. I was very angry that no where on the front or back of the book does it mention this being a book about Christian ...more
Mar 11, 2008 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 29, 2013 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.
Michael Brennan
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
The content of the book is great even though I've never suffered that kind of abuse, I waited a little bit harsher because of his ideas and definitions behind the word sin and sinfulness. I understand his perspective and theology, but I disagree with it as I tend to believe that wrong definitions about sin lead to poor self reflection and the poor understanding of the nature and character of God.
Nov 15, 2007 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 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
Feb 09, 2009 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 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 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 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.
I am still speechless over this book. I have never read anything by anyone with such profound and accurate insight into sexual abuse. This book clarified so many issues for me, made me feel like I was sitting down and talking to the only person in the world who understood me and enabled me to be set free from so many things. This book allowed me to take a hard look at myself and see the ways my own styles of relating have hurt others in a means to self protect so I don't get to close to people. ...more
Anne Snyder
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another one of those really good books that I wish I could recommend to everyone. I found it was helpful for anyone living in a fallen world, not just those who have gone through sexual abuse. Dan Allender had a very kind and gentle way of helping people walk through shame and sin to God and His care. It's hard to describe in a few words here, but if you want to know more about what I thought of it or got out of it, come and ask me.
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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
“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.” 8 likes
“But the part of ourselves we hate the most is our longing to be wanted and enjoyed.” 7 likes
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