Hope for Healing After Sexual Intrusion

I met Lynne (nee Straton) Head in seminary. We were in the same degree program. We sang in choir together. Our future husbands were dorm mates. We both became global workers. And missionary care providers. From my viewpoint Lynne looked attractive, confident, gifted, and someone everyone wanted to be. Little did I know the battles she faced.

Later I learned that Lynne had survived a near fatal car accident, suffered the tragic death of her sixteen-year old son, and endured chronic pain. So when she told me she had written a book and graciously sent me a copy, I looked forward to learning more of her story. After reading Unfolding: Recovering Your Identity After Sexual Intrusion I discovered she had also experienced sexual molestation.

In the first paragraph Lynne admits that because her abuse wasn’t as “severe” as others, she hesitated to write a book. But I am grateful she did. Unfolding is a beautiful gift to those who suffer from the effects of sexual abuse or intrusion as well as those who minister to them.

As a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Lynne knows there are many depths of abuse and each brings trauma to the mind, body, and soul. She gently and gracefully speaks to women like herself who “may have had a one-time experience they dismissed, or situations which they questioned as to whether or not they were abusive.”1 Lynne encourages us to not downplay our experiences if they don’t fit the exact definition of sexual abuse. For this reason, she uses the term sexual intrusion because it’s more inclusive.2

Lynn also understands how healing works. She states, “Although we will draw from various therapies, the most essential source of healing from sexual abuse is not rooted in technique, but in finding your identity in a relationship with Jesus.”3 She says that “the goal of healing from sexual abuse is to move forward with a transformed heart, a new mind, and new ways of relating. Working towards this end results in newfound joy and freedom.”4

The book is divided into four sections. The first defines sexual abuse, barriers to healing, and addresses the need to mourn and grieve. The second looks at how Jesus treated women and the safe place he offers his beloved daughters in his family. Section three describes how Jesus’ death and resurrection empowers us to a change and let go of unwanted behaviors and manage triggers. Lastly, Lynne shares how to live freely through forgiveness and transforming shame into closeness with Jesus. All this is followed by several appendices of tools, resources, and Lynne’s journaling poetry.

Unfolding offers to help you “recover your hope, restore your sense of safety, be empowered to change, and find deliverance from shame.”5 Using her own journey as a guide, Lynne encourages us to apply the same tools and truths that set her free. Her book is part memoir, part instruction manual for any who desire to be free of shame, PTSD, anxiety, anger, confusion around men, and any other lingering effects of sexual intrusion. I love how she weaves practical ways to reflect and take steps forward into her narrative. This book can be the manual that accompanies your counseling or one you work through on your own. Any who mentor others or serve as pastoral staff, member care providers, or counselors can confidently pass this book along to those they serve.

While my story is mostly free of this struggle (although Lynne did help me identify that I too experienced some small intrusions in my journey with sexuality), this book was helpful for me to understand what many women (and men) experience and how to find healing. I will be sharing Unfolding with those that I mentor.

Lynne Head, Unfolding: Recovering Your Identity After Sexual Intrusion (Sarasota, FL: The Peppertree Press, LLC), 2023.

  1. page xi ↩︎
  2. page 21 ↩︎
  3. page xii ↩︎
  4. page 22 ↩︎
  5. page xii ↩︎

Eva has been teaching and mentoring women for over thirty-five years. Her experience as a missionary kid in Papua New Guinea, cross-cultural worker in Indonesia, women’s ministry director, and Bible College adjunct professor adds a global dimension to her study of Scripture and the stories she tells. Through her blog, Pondered Treasures, and her book, Favored Blessed Pierced: A Fresh Look at Mary of Nazareth, Eva invites readers to slow down, reflect, and practically apply God’s word to life. Currently she and her husband live in Richardson, Texas and promote the well-being of global workers in a church planting mission agency. A graduate of Baylor University, she also has a Master of Christian Education from Columbia International University in Columbia, S.C. Crafting (specifically macramé) and spending time with her two sons and a daughter-in-law rejuvenates her soul.

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