Van Til Tool

Using the Van Til Perspective as the tool to discover what life means and how it ought to be lived.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Is Healing Possible For Childhood Sexual Abuse Victims ?

Is Healing Possible For Childhood Sexual Abuse Victims ?

By Forrest W. Schultz

A review of Mary E. DeMuth, Wishing On Dandelions (Colorado Springs: NavPress,
2006) ISBN 1-57683-953-2 $12.99 339 pages

The sexual abuse of children is one of the most heinous, most widespread, most embarrassing, and most devastating of all sins being perpetrated in modern times. Mary DeMuth is to be commended for her efforts to deal realistically with this horrific subject in her finely crafted Maranatha novels. Her first novel, Watching The Tree Limbs, tells the story of the abuse suffered by Maranatha when she was nine years old. Although the rapist was caught and punished and the abuse has ended, the emotional scars remain to plague her.

The story in the second Maranatha novel, the one under review here, takes place when Natha is 17 years old and in desperate need of healing from these four scars: continual reliving of the horrible events in her memory, nightmares related to these events, her tendency to view herself as “damaged goods”, and her fear that all men might be rapists. Although the focus of the novel is on her quest for healing from these scars, there are other strands interwoven into her story – racial tensions, Natha’s attempts to help her step-aunt Georgeanne (who is suffering from another kind of hurt), and the mystery surrounding Natha’s parents. By thus placing Natha’s quest for healing within her total life context, DeMuth gives us a fuller richer portrait than if she had restricted the story to the healing quest alone.

The small town in which Natha lives with its interesting characters is also very important for the story -- so important, in fact, that it is in some ways reminiscent of certain books, such as Jan Karon’s Mitford novels, where the focus is on the town itself. And it is some of these town characters who help Natha find healing from God.

Since the story is narrated by the young woman Maranatha, it will be especially interesting to women readers, particularly young women readers. However, I do not believe that “women’s” fiction is an accurate designation for it because it also has a message for men and is a book in which male readers can get interested.

Designating this as a work of “women’s” fiction is also inadvisable for another reason. Girls are not the only victims of childhood sexual abuse. Boys have also been subjected to sexual abuse and have also suffered traumatically from it.

DeMuth refers to her works as “Relevant Prose” and she uses that designation both for her email address and her website. By writing the Maranatha novels about such a timely topic, she has shown that this designation is quite appropriate.