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The Courage to Heal - Third Edition - Revised and Expanded: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Paperback – May 19, 1994

4.2 out of 5 stars 352 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Based on the premise that "everyone wants to become whole," this book offers help and encouragement to women who were sexually abused in childhood. Through moving firstperson narratives, it illustrates how to come to terms with the past and work constructively towards the future. Along the way it describes the effects of sexual abuse, maps the stages survivors pass through, and offers practical guidance on dealing with self-defeating behaviors and building self-esteem. Supportive strategies are recommended to families, friends, and health-care professionals. The final "Resources for Healing" lists services and self-help programs and a bibliography. Compassionate and supportive. Jodith Janes, Univ. Hospitals of Cleveland
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


The classic and definitive self-help guide for women survivors of sexual abuse, The Courage To Heal is a tool for recovery that works. This is also the book often cited by those who challenge the credibility of incest survivors. Some survivors of childhood abuse recover memories of these traumatic early experiences years after the original events, and it is these recovered memories that are said to be false memories, implanted in the allegedly impressionable minds of survivors. I was curious to see how this revised and expanded third edition would differ from the much maligned first. In addition to an Afterword that carefully analyzes and refutes the false memory syndrome argument, the authors have made revisions throughout the book which offer guidelines for assessing confusing memories. The authors' commitment to survivors is clear throughout the book, beginning with the book's endorsements, which come not from therapists, but from anonymous survivors. This is a comprehensive, supportive, carefully worded and often passionate book, as helpful for those who are the partners, friends or family of survivors, as for survivors themselves. -- From The WomanSource Catalog & Review: Tools for Connecting the Community for Women; review by Patricia Pettijohn

Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 3 Rev Upd edition (June 29, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060950668
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060950668
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (352 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book has gone a long way in helping me to begin the long journey to coming to terms with the sexual abuse I suffered as a pre-teen. For most of my adult life, I've been reluctant to attribute any of my problems (such as depression, self hatred, unhealthy sexual relationships with men, a general disgust about myself, etc.) to being molested by my stepfather. Within the past couple of years, however, I've begun to examine my feelings about it more and more. I bought this book rather hesitantly, but ended up reading the first few chapters in tears as I read so many of my own feelings and experiences echoed by the other abuse survivors. I had thought that I was all alone and that there was something intrinsically wrong with me for feeling the way I did about myself, and it was an overwhelming relief to find others who feel the same after having similar childhood experiences. The reviews offered here referring to the "memory" issue misrepresent the focus and intent of the book. These readers seem to want to keep abuse survivors quiet to save the "sanctity" of the family. So many of us have done this for years; sacrificing of our emotional well being. They belittle the profound hurt and damage caused not only by the abuse, but by the silence as well. At the very least, this book has helped me to feel human and has given me hope that I may one day feel whole. I highly recommend this book as an invaluable resource.

Addedum: It has been 7 years since I wrote the above review... I had forgotten I had written it until I ran across it in amazon's profile section. After reading a couple of the negative reviews below, I feel compelled to add something regarding the "repressed memory" issue.
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Format: Paperback
I am really put off by the bad reviews here. I did have repressed memories of my abuse. They came back one day when my mother told me that my sister "accused" my father of abusing her a long time ago. Of course, no one believed her. I then realized that these faint memories that seemed like dreams I had a long time ago were real. I read this book and it helped me tremedously. I ended up confronting my father in front of my entire family and telling him if he does not admit to what he has done - I will never speak to him again. HE DID ADMIT IT. Those repressed memories were not a farse. Don't minimize how much this book can help someone. Who cares that they are not doctors - they tell you that in the very beginning of the book. They have years of experience dealing with victims and did much research with victims to come up with this book. Just look at how many 5 stars this book got compared to 2 or 1 stars. Please! And I hate to tell all these 1 star reviewers who comment on how this book spews hatred towards men, but guess what? When someone you trust rapes you as a child YOU DO WISH THEY WOULD DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH. Of course you hate their guts. Obviously those who think this is uncommon never dealt the the trauma of rape (which is what molestation is).
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Format: Paperback
[I was] sexually abused me from ages 8 - 12. Until I took over the medical library at Fort Huachuca, AZ, I had no name for what happened to me. For nearly 9 years I read my library's professional articles and books on child sexual abuse and former abuse. I acknowledged, with intellectual interest, that many of the adult patients' symptoms applied to me. What I learned didn't prompt me to seek treatment for the incest. In fact, I ran away from therapy when my therapist wanted me to deal with the incest instead of just my depression. Then, in 1990, our Community Mental Health Service ordered THE COURAGE TO HEAL. While I was checking to make sure all of pages were there, I started reading the book. Yes, CMHS unknowingly had to wait two or three more days to get their order because I *HAD* to get through this book. Its first-person accounts affected me in a way those clinical reports never had. [After reading the book] I knew I could no longer deny that the abuse was still affecting me. When I got to work the next day, I asked for help. I got it. It wasn't easy. The authors are correct to use the word "courage." Working through the abuse was the hardest thing I ever did. I think I shed 30 years' worth of tears in the second year of therapy. I won't pretend I'm the person I would have been if I'd never been abused, but I am stronger and better than I would have been if I'd gone on pretending it was all in the past. I've learned to fight for myself. If ever I forget how much I've changed, I have only to read my old diaries to know I'm not the whimpering mouse I was. I'm so glad I read this book. I'm also glad that I have such ready access to professional resources on child sexual abuse. That's how I know I don't have to fear that I was mislead by what THE COURAGE TO HEAL showed me.
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Format: Paperback
Ginny NiCarthy

This thoroughly updated version of the classic work The Courage to Heal is a must read for survivors of child sexual abuse. No matter what the survivor`s situation, and regardless of the relationship to the perpetrator, a survivor who reads this book need never feel alone again. Bass and Davis intersperse testimonies of survivors with the latest relevant research-based findings about trauma and the recovery processes. Twenty-some years of interviews and workshops with child sexual abuse survivors have enabled the authors to collect testimonies to quote in the book. Those personal mini-stories provide a sense of immediacy and authenticity, which adds weight to the authors' professional knowledge.
Bass and Davis include information about abuse by strangers as well as by doctors, therapists, teachers and family members. There are sections addressed specifically to males victimized by other males and by women and information for women abused by mothers, as well as examples of abuse of lesbians, gays and transgendered people and abuse by them. Quotes and information about self-cutting, ritual abuse, desires for suicide, the pain of remembering and the pain of not remembering well are all included. Poetry by survivors and by Ellen Bass provides another lens through which to view survivors' experiences.
The original Courage to Heal, written 20 years ago, was a ground breaker. Since then, a great deal has been learned about child sexual abuse, and it seems as if it is all here in this whopper of nearly 600 pages. Victimized children often grow up feeling isolated or shamed by the perception that they are the only ones who endured anything like what they went through.
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