Author and speaker Dawn Eden has penned a book that travels bravely into the dark and daunting forest of sexual abuse as it simultaneously calls out hope for survivors. My Peace I Give You, Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints (Ave Maria Press, 2012) is an illumined path for survivors of sexual abuse, packed with reassurance that no one is lost, alone, or doomed in their suffering.
Eden, herself, is not alone in this trek; she’s brought along an entire search and rescue team in the Body of Christ. While discreetly telling her own painful memories, Eden unpacks the solace of divine graces found in her conversion to Catholicism, and within a sacramental life. What’s more, Eden carries a sure compass pointing toward hope as she looks to the Passion of Christ, as well as biographies of saints -- women and men -- who have suffered in mind and body.
In My Peace I Give You, Eden declares that peace is possible in Christ by reflecting on the pains of the past in order to purify them.
Christ’s sufferings, like all his acts, are of infinite value; they have meaning and purpose. The Christian believer’s sufferings share in this purpose, for she is, through her baptism, united to Christ…
The beautiful truth is that even past sufferings, in the light of Christ, take on profound meaning, because they are part of the believer who is united to Christ in the present moment…. memory does not have to be the enemy. On the contrary, our healing becomes possible when we admit our memories are an integral part of who we are. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick,” (Mt 9:12). If the Divine Physician is to operate on me, I must have an opening through which he can reach my heart. I must admit that I am wounded, and that my wounds remain. Such a painful admission is yet possible with the aid of God’s grace. (Eden, My Peace I Give You, Ave Maria Press, 2012, p. 43.)
Peace not only comforts, it opens an opportunity to grow. Within the book, Eden quotes Blessed John XXIII reminding us that each saint is “holy in a different way.” Just as sexual wounds are very particular to each person who has been victimized, so, too, the path toward holiness is specific for each person. Eden profiles Saints Josephine Bakita, Gemma Galgani, Thérèse of Lisieux, Maria Goretti, Bernard of Clairvaux, Thomas Aquinas, Margaret of Costello, Maximilian Kolbe, and more. While not all of these have suffered abuse of a sexual nature, Eden finds noteworthy virtues and inspiration relevant for the topic at hand.
My Peace I Give You helps readers find spiritual friends for the often arduous and circuitous journey toward hope and healing. While support and professional counseling are good, making friends with certain saints – human persons who have undergone suffering on earth yet are now perfected in heaven -- offers supernatural direction and hope. Indeed, the saints are boon companions, safe confidantes, and shining examples that good can come from evil, that the light of faith, eventually, overcomes any and all darkness.
I was asked to review this book by the Book Club at Patheos where I write a column. As the topic is one we've dealt with on Among Women several times, I thought I'd offer this post for your interest. I'll work on getting Dawn Eden as a future guest on the podcast, but in the meanwhile, you may find this book beneficial, as well as previous episodes of Among Women that deal with the topic of sexual abuse. Those episodes are 47, 75, 79, and 103.