Rid of my Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault. Holcomb, Justin S. and Lindsey A. Holcomb. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2011. 272 pp. $15.99. Purchase at Westminster for $10.71.
This is another invaluable resource from the RE:LIT series of books published by Crossway and theResurgence. While the Holcomb’s may not be household names, what they are doing should be known in every household. Justin is a pastor at Mars Hill and a Professor at Reformed Theological Seminary. Lindsey currently counsels victims of sexual assault. She previously worked at a sexual crisis center providing intervention to victims of assault. She also worked at a domestic violence shelter. In other words, these two know what they are talking about.
The book is divided into three parts with an introductory chapter entitled Disgrace and Grace. The first part looks at the disgrace of sexual assault. Only two chapters long, this may be the most formative and foundational two chapters (perhaps that is why they are two and three?) of the book. In chapter one, the reader will have sexual assault defined and in chapter two learn what are the effects of sexual assault. It makes sense that part two is so much longer since the act of sexual assault is so quick while the ramifications last a lifetime.
Part two is comprised of six chapters and looks at true life stories of women and men who have been sexually assaulted. Chapter titles include denial, distorted self-image, shame, guilt, anger, and despair. Perhaps the most sobering statistic that sets up the entire book (and I think worth mentioning here) is “At least one in four women and one in six men are or will be victims of sexual assault in their lifetime” (p.13). One finds this sobering stat displayed in the various true-life stories on the pages of this second section.
Part three is understandably the most needed part of the book as here, the reader will understand how to apply the accomplished grace and mercy of Christ to the victim(s) of sexual assault. Chapter 10 looks at sin, violence, and sexual assault while the last two chapters share the grace found in the old and new testaments. The book concludes with an authoritative bibliography that is most helpful as well as a general and scriptural index for Rid of My Disgrace.
Sexual Assault is one of those skeleton’s in our closet that is most often left in the closet. The Holcomb’s masterfully deal with an extremely sensitive subject. Their definition of sexual assault (found on page 28) shows just how wide spread this heinous crime is today. They move from the act of the assault itself through the stages of the victim following the assault to the application of a sweet balm only provided by the Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.
There is no finger pointing and no blame-shifting found in these pages. What the reader will find is a comforting and understanding shoulder to lean on. More importantly, the necessity of the Scriptures screams forth on every page. As I mentioned above in the summary, the bibliography is authoritative and, in my estimation, worth the cost of the book.
This is one of those resources that you do not realize you need until you need it. Let me shoot straight for a moment, if you are a pastor, you will be encountered with the evil of sexual assault. What will you say? Can you offer hope? Sure, you can offer the gospel, but can you do so in a manner that will be understood by someone who has been violated?
Ok, so you are not a pastor, but you are a Christian. How will you handle the situation when a friend comes and tells you they have just been violated? Will you be able to understand, even a little, what they are experiencing? Not everyone is as prepared as they think for counseling sessions. This book may sit on your shelf without being needed, but when you need it it will be there and you will be more than grateful to God.
In short, get this book and have it available on your shelf. It is an invaluable resource that is most necessary.