No Ordinary Life: Parenting the Sexually Abused Child and Adolescent

By Lyman, Susan | Family Relations, October 2001 | Go to article overview

No Ordinary Life: Parenting the Sexually Abused Child and Adolescent


Lyman, Susan, Family Relations


Knauer, S. (2000). No Ordinary Life: Parenting the Sexually Abused Child and Adolescent. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas. 172 pages. ISBN 0398-07026-1. Price: $24.95.

This book aims to help the reader appreciate the dynamics that often occur in the aftermath of child sexual abuse and to provide practical information about dealing with the issues that often arise while parenting or otherwise supporting children and adolescents who have been victims of sexual abuse. There are practical suggestions for effectively responding to the emotional, physical, and behavioral disorders that manifest in survivors of sexual abuse. The book also covers topics such as identifying signs of sexual abuse, handling disclosure, and what to expect from the legal and judicial system.

This may be a small book, but it is not an easy read. It is obvious that the author is passionate about the issues and the people affected by this insidious and often veiled problem. The use of anecdotal data and case examples to illustrate the different issues involved in this complex problem makes reading it an emotional experience. All of these cases are inherently tragic, but what makes them even more devastating to the victim is the response that the child received from adults and from the system when the abuse is discovered or disclosed. The author skillfully synthesizes the impact of these inappropriate and insensitive responses and the human frailty that often underlies them. Understanding not only the child's reaction but also the reaction of the adults in the situation allows us to truly appreciate the dilemma of these young victims. This sensitivity to the holistic nature of the problems created by child sexual abuse and the ecological perspective of multi generational occurrence that helps define the problem and the solutions is one of the strengths of this book.

The author begins by educating the reader about the signs and signals that may indicate child sexual abuse. The author is sensitive to the issue of not letting a single behavior or a single symptom be used as a determinant of abuse but rather to identify patterns of behaviors and clusters of symptoms that are associated with sexual abuse. This is valuable information because many of the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse are not commonly recognized as being associated with sexual abuse. …

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