Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Amy Nordhues, author of Preyed Upon: Breaking Free from Therapist Abuse -- AUTHOR INTERVIEW


Amy Nordhues, author of Preyed Upon: Breaking Free from Therapist Abuse (2021)

Amy Nordhues was groomed and abused as a young adult by the church-based psychiatrist she went to for help with depression. She struggled with the ongoing trauma of her abuse, especially the shame and self-blame she carried with her. After much work brought healing and peace, Nordhues wanted to write a memoir to share her story. She wrote her book, Preyed Upon, primarily for abuse survivors, but it is comforting to anyone who has faced trauma and helpful for anyone supporting trauma survivors. 

Amy talked with Rose City Reader about her memoir, resources for sexual assault victims, and how others can support survivors of sexual assault: 

How did you come to write your new memoir Prayed Upon?

After I was taken advantage of by a “Christian” therapist/psychiatrist in 2014, I decided to write out my story. Really, I just wanted to understand what happened so that I could begin to forgive myself. As the story unfolded on the pages, I began to see the sneaky and insidious manipulation process. In time, I knew that I needed to share my story with the world so that other adult victims would know they weren’t alone and that what happened to them was not their fault.

Your memoir is intensely personal – did you have any qualms about sharing so much?

Yes! It was a terrifying prospect to put my personal life story into print, but it was an important step in my healing and in reducing the stigma adult victims experience. I respect authors of memoir so much. We take a huge risk when we tell our stories.

Who is your intended audience and what do you hope your readers will gain from your book?

Women, ages 25-65+; adult victims of sexual and/or emotional abuse; survivors of childhood sexual abuse; mental health professionals; Christians, especially those who are struggling to find God in their suffering; and church leaders.

Prayed Upon addresses the following felt needs:

  • The inner workings of the abuse process of adult victims;
  • How past childhood abuse can make an adult vulnerable to predators;
  • The defective beliefs that cause victims to doubt their own realities and become ensnared by abusers;
  • An up-close look at the insidious grooming process a predator uses to trap his victims;
  • The power a therapist has over a client;
  • That the abuse of an adult by a person in a position of power is not a mutual affair;
  • A path towards healing for victims—that with Christ there is hope;
  • How the spouses of adult victims are secondary victims;
  • How loved ones can best support the victims in their lives;
  • Possible routes to justice;
  • The trials victims will likely face once they come forward;
  • God's hand at work amidst the tribulations of victims;
  • That no situation is too dire that God cannot use it for good;
  • How victims can replace their faulty beliefs with God’s truth; and
  • That Christ is the ultimate healer.

Do you think there is benefit to victims of abuse in telling their stories?

I do. Anything that gets it out of the victim has benefit whether that means talking to one person, sharing with a therapist, writing out the story. Holding shame and trauma inside is mentally and physically detrimental. We are not meant to do life alone. Secrets are heavy!

What did you learn from writing your book – either about the experiences you describe or the writing process – that most surprised you?

I was surprised to uncover the lies I was believing about myself, lies that stemmed from early childhood. These negative self-tapes placed a target on my back and made me vulnerable to predators.

Can you recommend any other memoirs that deal with surviving abuse with the honesty and self-forgiveness you put into yours?

What resources would you recommend for survivors of adult sexual abuse? What about their loved ones and supporters?

I have a long list of organizations and other resources to help survivors on my website at this page.

What can friends and family of abuse victims do to support them?

Listen and empathize. Don’t try to understand it unless you have experience with sexual abuse especially abuse as an adult. Don’t ask questions so that you can better understand it yourself. Your words can be extremely hurtful so be slow to speak. What you can do is relate to their pain, betrayal, confusion, hurt. Guide the victim towards support of those who understand, whether that be a ministry or a therapist. Research online and try to find resources for them. Help them find books on the subject. Although you can be a listening ear, friends and family are not equipped to handle this level of trauma. Do not rush victims through their pain! Healing takes as long as it takes!

Please tell us about your work with abuse survivors and advocates.

Besides writing my memoir, Preyed Upon, I also have an Amy Nordhues website full of resources, helpful articles, suggested reading, and interviews I’ve done on the subject. I hope to begin traveling and speaking on the issue of adult abuse. I am considering joining with other ministries as there is strength in numbers. I will respond to anyone who reaches out to me through my website or through social media. I would love to work towards legislation in my state regarding therapist abuse. Currently, it is criminally illegal in only 32 states.

What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as someone working to help abuse survivors?

Victims of crimes do not owe explanations to anyone regarding the nature of the crime committed against them!

Do you have any events or speaking engagements coming up?

Most of the speaking events and interviews I have done thus far are on the press page of my website. More recently, I spoke last month at two sexual abuse conferences, the Beautifully Broken Conference and the Restoring Hope: Celebrating Resilience Conference. Both those talks will be posted on my website shortly. 

What’s next? What are you working on now?

I would like to record Preyed Upon for audio book.

I am considering a second book to address what happens after the survivor escapes the abuser and all the risks they face in coming forward as well as the challenges they face in healing.

I am also looking for speaking engagements. I can be found on Christian Speaker and Christian Women Speakers.



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