Healing the Sexually Abused Heart: A WORKBOOK FOR SURVIVORS, THRIVERS, AND SUPPORTERS by Dr. Jaime J. Romo

Workbook Review by Marianne Benkert, M.D.

Dr. Romo has written a workbook that is addressed primarily to survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures. This applies to any religious denomination where a hierarchy of power exists which makes possible exploitation of the young and vulnerable. The esteem and trust a cleric holds in the community endows the cleric with great spiritual and moral power. Sexual abuse by such a person represents a breech of trust that is reprehensible beyond words. This workbook can also be helpful to survivors of sexual abuse in the broader context of society. Wherever there is a power differential, the possibility of sexual abuse exists. Dr. Romo offers abundant didactic information on how and why such abuse takes place. The workbook is divided into two parts. Part one constitutes the largest part of the book and is divided into four chapters entitled Victims, Survivors, Survivors-Thrivers, and Thrivers. Part Two, Chapter five addresses Supporters and Change Agents for victims. Chapter Six elucidates important definitions used in the workbook. Dr. Romo suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a priest. He draws on his own experience and feelings in telling his story and the aftermath. He acknowledges the painful episodes and disappointments he has endeared. He encourages and challenges the workbook participant to do likewise. He also shares his own hard-earned insights with the hope the reader can profit and share in this healing process. Before the beginning exercises, Dr. Romo lays out a clear and concise guide of how to navigate this workbook in the most beneficial way possible. He explains the necessity of starting at the beginning and proceeding in an orderly fashion. It is clear that some of the sections will be more stressful than others for individual survivors but he encourages perseverance and faith in the healing process. He invites the active participant to question, think, act and reflect on the different aspects of sexual abuse and its very personnel consequences. Not only will victims of sexual abuse profit from this workbook but also survivor advocates who walk with them in this healing journey. This is a workbook that has been thoughtfully written and will be of tremendous aid and support to those in the survivor community.