A psychotherapist offers intensive reflections from and about female survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Through interviews, profiles, qualitative studies, and her own professional experiences, debut author Gil channels her veteran career in abuse recovery into this poignant and illuminating volume on survivorship. She focuses primarily on women who have become mothers despite the harrowing ordeals clouding their youths and how they raise their own children amid lingering emotional challenges. The book’s opening chapters provide plainspoken declarations of what childhood sexual abuse encompasses, the long-term deleterious mental health ramifications, and how self-medication provides only temporary relief. Other sections examine the specific qualities found in nurturing and protective mothers and how a professional therapeutic relationship can cultivate those attributes, foster recovery, and counsel parents in their critical roles at home. Her text also mines the dynamics of revictimization and the intergenerational transmission of abuse possible throughout a survivor’s life. The themes Gil explores are intensified and greatly personalized with quotes, stories, and passages from scores of interviews she’s conducted with women who are rearing kids in contemporary society as well as those who have already parented adult offspring. This material shows how time and healing have changed their views over the course of their motherhoods. “By sharing common experiences, women can begin to transform shame into pride, and silence into strength,” the author writes. Her probing yet respectful scrutiny exposes the atrocities of childhood sexual abuse while beautifully revealing the brave struggles of mothers who have persevered, given birth, and lovingly supported their kids. Gil’s affecting narrative celebrates the emotional and physical strength of female survivors, and she admits to being in a constant state of awe at her subjects’ tenacity and their ability to “maintain a sense of humor and to be compassionate and caring toward others while they courageously grapple with the difficult and painful issues that arise in the therapeutic process.” The book’s analytical approach and academic tone and format make it an ideal resource for childhood abuse clinicians and educators as well as for survivors who are open to discovering aspects of other women’s experiences and coping mechanisms. For lay readers, Gil closes each chapter with useful summary sections clarifying and underscoring key points and perspectives.
A moving and immensely informative study on how the long road to abuse recovery can directly affect motherhood.