Book: The Courage to Heal

The Courage to Heal
A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Third Edition – Revised and Updated
Written by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

Introduction: Healing Is Possible
About the Stories in This Book
Using the Writing Exercises

Part 1: Taking Stock

Effects: Recognizing the Damage
Coping: Honoring What You Did to Survive

Part 2: The Healing Process

An Overview
The Decision to Heal
The Emergency Stage
Believing It Happened
Breaking Silence
Understanding That It Wasn’t Your Fault
The Child Within
Trusting Yourself
Grieving and Mourning
Anger – The Backbone of Healing
Disclosures and Confrontations
Resolution and Moving On

Part 3: Changing Patterns

The Process of Change
Self-Esteem and Personal Power
Your Body
Children and Parenting
Families of Origin

Part 4: For Supporters of Survivors

The Basics
For Family Members
For Partners

Part 5: Courageous Women

An Introduction
Judy Gold
Eva Smith
Janel Robinson
Evie Malcolm
Anna Stevens
Kyos Featherdancing
Lorraine Williams
Randi Taylor
Alicia Mendoza
S.R. Benjamin
Diane Hugs
Michelle and Artemis
Mary McGrath

Part 6: Honoring The Truth: A Response to the Backlash

The Emerging Backlash
A Little History
Who Supports the Backlash
The Truth About the Backlash
What We Do and Don’t Know About Memory
Personal Strategies for Dealing with the Backlash
Rachel’s Story
Future Visions


  1. i heard about a story in a book called The Courage To Heal and it’s by Anna Stevens and i would love to have that story sent to me. If any one could help me get it please send the story to my email

    • I hope someone can help you out with that! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Could someone tell me about the writing exercise in the taking stock chapter? How and why am I supposed to give honor to what I did to survive the abuse, especially if they aren’t pleasant?

    • Hi, Amy –

      You are asking a question I think we all have asked at some point.

      My therapist answers this question in this way: You took the very limited logic, options and resources you had available to you and you crafted and implemented a coping mechanism in order to survive. What a genius solution! Congratulations on being so resourceful!

      Think about it . . . if a person was stuck on an island and had to kill animals and rare trees and maybe do permanent damage to the ecosystem in order to eat and drink and build a raft in order to get back to civilization, we would see him as a hero because he did the best he could with what he had.

      Then, think about little kids – they have no life experience, and, due to their abusive environments, they have no healthy foundation built from self-esteem, self-worth, knowing the value of others, knowledge of “normal” sexuality, awareness they have rights, awareness there are boundaries that should be honored, awareness they are of value and deserve to be treated well . . . they have no money, no adult advocates, no voice, no physical strength . . . and yet, they survive.

      The fact they survive is an extraordinary feat. How they survived is amazing, even when the “how” includes horrifying acts that, as adults, we look back and judge as “unimaginably bad”.

      I know that children/adults who have survived abuse often turn to self-destructive and others-destructive habits as a way to make sense of what happened and as a way to deal with the suffocating pain. Those of us who have walked that path are very aware that those children/adults don’t know a better way – or, if they do know a better way, they are powerless to implement that better way. Their choices are: do the destructive behavior or shrivel up and die, literally.

      So, those of us who have walked that path know judging a behavior (past or present) as “bad” doesn’t do a damn thing to better the situation. We know that what the person really needs is love and support and understanding and compassion. We know that person deserves it, and we pray he or she finds a way to receive it.

      Does that help?

      – Marie

      P.S. I proactively put your question out to the readers of this blog. I invite you to check back to see how they respond:

      Reader Input

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