3 out of 4 stars
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"How does a parent trust anyone when their child was abused by someone the family knew? Where do you start putting the pieces together?" In A Parent’s Journey Through A Child’s Sexual Abuse, these are a few of the questions that torment Dale S. Christensen, Sr. With gut-wrenching honesty, Christensen shares the heartbreaking story of his six-year-old daughter's sexual abuse, although he purposely omits graphic details. "I can assure you the details are nothing a child should endure and a parent should never hear about." However, Christensen chronicled how the experience affected his family before and after the abuse. He detailed what it was like to deal with law enforcement, healthcare professionals, the court system, and ongoing family counseling.
After explaining the circumstances leading up to the night of the abuse and the events immediately following it, Christensen intentionally focuses on the aftermath. Even so, it is impossible to read his story without experiencing sadness about the abuse Christensen's daughter suffered and its effects on the family. While sensitive readers may shy away from the heartbreaking content, Christensen addresses a relevant topic, and the information he shares could be a lifeline for parents in similar circumstances. Readers will relate to his emotionally charged self-doubts, questions, and responses throughout the book. For instance, when he reveals not heeding his wife's doubts about his children attending the sleepover where the abuse took place, his pain is palpable as he beats himself up for allowing them to go.
Likewise, the book's strength lies in Christensen's brutal honesty regarding his grief, anger, and appeals for improvements to a flawed system. As the parent of an abused child, he very effectively conveys his frustration with the judicial process and support groups, which seem to prioritize offenders' rights over those of the victims. He expresses understandable outrage at the insensitivity of subjecting victims to "rape tests" after their traumatic experience, insisting on changing the name of the procedure to something more appropriate and less frightening.
I particularly like the personal letters to his children, wife, and parents that Christensen includes at the end of the book. His heartfelt letters communicate gratitude, admiration, regret, and respect to his family members. As Christensen's children are now adults, he is able to offer long-term insight and hope for parents and survivors.
I honestly can't name anything I dislike about the book's content, but unfortunately, the number of punctuation errors necessitates the deduction of a star. Therefore, I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars. However, with a bit of polishing, it has the potential to earn the highest rating. Although Christensen includes a disclaimer that it is not intended to provide "...psychological, legal, or any other kind of professional advice," he offers an insightful perspective as the parent of an abused child. I would recommend the book to any parent and to readers who have experienced similar circumstances. However, while Christensen is cautious not to include graphic details, the content may trigger victims of sexual abuse.
A Parent’s Journey Through A Child’s Sexual Abuse
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