Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tolson 4 TEARS Reviews "Invisible Girls: The Truth About Sexual Abuse"

Invisible Girls: The Truth About Sexual Abuse. A Book for Teen Girls, Young Women, and Everyone Who Cares About Them by Dr. Pattie Feurereisen with Caroline Pincus.
Dr. Patti Feuereisen is a psychotherapist in New York City who has worked with young survivors of sexual assault for twenty-five years. Her co-writer, Caroline Pincus, is an editor. The collaboration resulted in a book that offers a well-written examination of the trauma of sexual abuse, its painful ramifications, and the healing journey.
The book opens with the authors' explanation of the Greek myth of "Pandora's Box." According to legend, Pandora received special gifts from the gods, including a box that she was told not to open. Feurereisen writes, " defiance of the patriarchy, she opened the box." When she opened the box, "out spilled all the misfortunes of the world." This sets an undertone of the entire book: the recognition that patriarchy fosters oppression of women, thereby perpetuating sexual assault upon young girls in our male dominated society. However, the authors do not make social commentary. They allow the survivors to tell their stories, thereby endorsing the fact that Pandora would rather know the truth (of what was in the box), reveal it, and release the trauma. By writing a book for young women, the authors hope that the pain of abuse is released early, thus allowing healing to start sooner. 
The book is divided into four parts. Part One defines sexual abuse and its affects. Part Two tells survivors' stories of how girls got through the actual experience of being abused, such as by "disassociation." In Part Three, several survivors tell stories of father-daughter incest, sibling sexual abuse, abuse by those in authority positions, and acquaintance/date rape (it's an epidemic). Part Four explains different paths to healing, and encourages victims to seek support. 
Dr. Patti uses questions from the web site she founded, Girl Thrive, which is a resource for sexual abuse survivors. She answers specifics in "Invisible Girls" such as "Should You Confront Your Abuser" and "Should You Forgive Your Abuser." The authors also offer an extensive resource section.
Throughout the book, the authors emphasize to readers that victims are not alone, the abuse was not their fault, and "the best way to heal from sexual abuse is to talk about it." To tell the story is to be seen, heard, and validated, and therefore no longer invisible. The authors delve thoroughly into the box that is filled with the ills of sexual abuse that plague our society. The result is a book that understands victims' needs, thereby giving hope for healing.

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(review completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor’s Story)

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