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Refuge from Abuse Refuge from Abuse
Healing and Hope for Abused Christian Women

Nancy Nason-Clark and Catherine Clark Kroeger
ISBN 0830832033 (9780830832033)
IVP, 2004

Category: Christian Life & Discipleship

Abuse is an ugly, dark topic, and the idea of abuse within the church especially so. Fortunately, over recent years we have become more willing to face up to this subject, and a number of books have been written to provide information, insight and instruction. This new contribution from Nancy Nason-Clark and Catherine Clark Kroeger is written for the victim, which already makes it stand out from the crowd. It is not intended for the counsellor or church leader to read in order to understand how to assist a victim of abuse (there are plenty of other books that do that): it focuses totally on the victim herself. The frequent use of the second person invites the reader to consider if their situation has any similarity to the situation described in the case studies they relate. They frequently give relevant, solid advice for consideration. There are many 'sidebar' sections that summarise core material. Any of us would gain a great deal from reading it, but this book would ideally form part of the collection of material we have at our displosal for giving to people in need.

Nason-Clark and Kroeger do not restrict themselves to sexual abuse, but consider many different forms of abuse: physical, verbal, economic. This obviously gives the book a potentially very wide use. Of particular value are the numerous references to biblical narrative and the situations that women found themselves in. Kroeger was co-editor of the IVP Women's Bible Commentary with our own Mary Evans, and the quality of her biblical work shines through in this aspect of the book. The biblical narratives are often provided as creative and insightful re-writings, and include positive examples of women taking action in difficult situations, not just narratives taken from the times when women are the victims. The book is valuable simply for this demonstration of the effective and powerful application of the Bible to contemporary situations.

I was particularly encouraged that the authors do not present a naive spirituality, one that believes that simply praying about a situation is all that is needed for abuse victims to come to terms with their situation, for example. They are especially good on the place of forgiveness within the healing process (109-13), and the coupling of their solid advice on this issue with a narrative based on Genesis story of Joseph is strikingly effective. The inclusion of a chapter on attitudes to the abuser during the process of healing is also to be commended. I found nothing in this book that could be labelled misandronistic, which is a great credit to the authors. They clearly have a high view of marriage, but are equally realistic on the damage caused to it by abusers. They capture an excellent tone, and balance firm advice with the need to empower the victim and help her gain true control of her own life.

This book would be a valuable addition to the bookshelf of anyone who could possibly find themselves helping a woman deal with (and understand) an abusive situation. This is a very distinctive publication, and I suggest that it is important to have it on your shelf ready for the day you need to give it away. So get two copies of it; unfortunately, you'll probably need more. IVP, please only let this book go out of print if something better actually comes along.

John Wilks, March 2005

Dr John G F Wilks is the Director of Open Learning at London School of Theology, Reviews Editor for Evangelical Quarterly and author of Scripture Union's Deeper Encounter Study Series.

Previously published by London School of Theology. Reused here by kind permission.


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