I have to confess to putting off reading and reviewing this book for some weeks. It is clearly a subject of some sensitivity and, as the title intimates, a great degree of hurt and pain. It is fitting that the author acknowledges the strength and courage of all those who contributed and also to her own husband. This is clearly not an “easy” read but the difficulty lies within the subject matter and not in the writing.
The book is not a reference guide and neither is it a deep analysis of the psychology of child abusers; it is a sympathetic report of actual cases interspersed with the authors’ qualified, personal comments. Comments that were reflections of her own thoughts at the time of conducting the interviews. She is clear that the book does not promise a happy ending but that it intends to provide a way back to normality for those who have suffered; the families. A repeated theme is the effect that these issues have on the families involved in such disturbing circumstances and addresses the issue from several angles; there is however, a common theme, that of the fear, shame, blame and burden of guilt that is carried by these people.
The cases refer to the expectations and reactions of our society reflected by such phrases as “a mother should know, shouldn’t she?” and “we were just an ordinary family”. These are real cases, real people, and real lives and therein lies the strength of the book. It is not just a detached observers’ view; it is written from a qualified and caring perspective. Julia is clear that this book may leave the reader ‘unsettled and lost‘ and that there are not presenting ‘sugar-coated solutions‘ in the stories relayed but her intention is not to sugar coat the topic. It is to highlight and expose with a view to helping. Her Afterword perfectly details this by presenting what the interviewees would want to believe, to achieve. One wants hope, another strength, another support and another to not feel alone. I truly hope that this book assists all of these people, and many, many others, to find these experiences.
Julia finishes the book with a simple statement:
“Have I done them justice?” (referring to the contributors). I hope so. I cannot say that I enjoyed reading this book in the way that one reads a Harry Potter but that is not the purpose nor the point.
I will close the review with a direct quotation from one of the book’s referees:
“Hurt is an important book which faces up to the reality of childhood sex abuse. Hurt gives hope that families can recover, and will be a massive support to any parent/carer suffering the aftermath of sexual abuse.”
Denise Hubble, Clinical Services Manager, Mosac
From my unqualified and detached perspective I trust and hope that this is true.
“Every parent should read Hurt . . . ” is another quoted reference and I strongly support this plea. It may not be ‘easy‘ but it is important.
“A must for survivors and clinicians . . . ”
The book concludes with places to go for help and I think it fitting to add these here:
Review by Business Editor, Phil Birch