Sexual assault is not something that happens to someone, ends, and is over; rather, it has lasting effects that can have an impact on every aspect of the person’s life. In Rid of My Disgrace, Justin and Lindsey Holcomb seek to address shame and disgrace, particularly powerful and lasting influences on those who have experienced sexual assault. While these are real effects, there is hope for escape from them, and it is this hope which the authors seek to convey.
The authors go about addressing this in three parts. In the first part of their book the define sexual assault, analyze its effects (to include the trauma, negative stereotypes, and self-blaming), discuss the emotions which go along with it, and begin a discussion on how healing is to be found in the grace of God. The second part of the book focuses on how this grace is applied, with each chapter being preceded by the story of somebody who was sexually assaulted and gained the freedom of grace.
This section of the book seeks to address six ways that grace is applied: first in overcoming denial (facing the truth, admitting the damage, naming the evil, and seeking God’s presence); second in restoring the distorted self-image (through the renewed identity in Christ); third in defeating shame (through the biblical truth of its defeat by Christ on the cross, whereby shame no longer defines nor has power of you); fourth in removing guilt (through the biblical truth of the grace of God being applied; through the truth that you are accepted by God); fifth in assessing anger (realizing that anger is warranted and justified, and yet moving from this to find forgiveness); and sixth in escaping despair (through the hope of redemption in Christ).
This second section is the more practical application of theology portion of the book. In the third part they move on to a general presentation of the gospel of grace as particularly addressed to victims of sexual assault, and as seen through the lens of the Old and New Testaments, ending with a concluding prayer.
All in all, this text is an excellent presentation of the gospel’s power to overcome the shame and disgrace inflicted by sexual assault. While there is much other healing which may need to be done, the truths presented here are central to finding a solid basis on which the person may find freedom from their shame.
“What has happened to you was not your fault. You are not to blame.”-p.15
“Grace is being loved when you are or feel unlovable.”-p.15
“the message you hear most often is self-heal, self-love, and self-help.”p.16
“Naming and describing the evil done to you does not ensure automatic personal healing. However it does provide clarity regarding sexual assault, and it allows for acknowledgement.”-p.35
“What you believe has a huge connection to how you respond to disgrace, violence, denial, shame, guilt…”-p.44
“Perhaps the greatest fear of a person marked by shameful defilement is the fear of exposure.”-p.102
“No longer do you have to hold your head in shame in prayer, but you can come to the Father with Christ-centred confidence.”-p.203
“Christ’s victory give us back our identity and restores our meaning.”-p.204