Book Review: The Third Floor Window

June 4, 2013

Colleen Spiro deals with her story of childhood sexual abuse by her father in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the reader, but in the first few chapters I still gasped out loud twice. She tells us how the child feels, gives us insight into why it is so difficult for a child to come forward, and also what it takes to be a survivor.  We also get a clear image of the abuser and how he functions.

I could feel her terror and revulsion, the feeling of shame, and the sense of being a nothing – a person of no importance – as I read each chapter.  I could also feel her hope and conviction in telling this story, a conviction that she must help others who suffered as she did and show them a way out of darkness.

How Colleen began healing was through Jesus, the center of all redemptive suffering. Yet one so abused never really gets over it. Flashbacks occur unexpectedly and once again the person must work through the pain and reach out to the Lord.

This book helped me understand the effects of child sexual abuse and how hard these children have to work to achieve peace. It taught me the importance of being a good listener, accepting the person where he or she is now, not being afraid of the subject, and just plain being there for the person like a sturdy, tall leafy tree one can lean against or sit under when the memories become just too much.

As I got to the end of the book and could see the extensive progress Colleen made in her healing process, and knowing this book came out several years ago, I got the feeling that Colleen now has more to say, especially since I read her blog, Thoughts on Grace. More hope and love to give others who have suffered as she did. More about standing tall and refusing to surrender to the evil done to her so long ago. More teaching those of us who are friends, relatives, and colleagues of victims. I hope she writes that book.

A dear high school friend was sexually assaulted by  her father for many years. This was the 1950s and 60s. Nobody but nobody ever brought the subject up and some of us were so innocent in those days the whole idea would never have occurred to us. Never, at the time, would I have guessed that anything was wrong. About fifteen or so years ago she revealed what happened and told me how her family refused to believe her. Her mother disowned her and the rest of the family cut ties. We still talk about how she is doing and how she is recovering.

A relative of mine by marriage went through the same thing and told me about it when she entered treatment in the 1990s.

On a trip returning from a photography conference with a male colleague of mine, we talked about my being Catholic. He pulled the car off the road and told me, weeping, that he had been abused by a priest when he was 13. The priest threatened him with hell if he didn’t comply and if he ever told anyone. This man said he couldn’t set foot into a Catholic church to that day and couldn’t stand the sight of a priest. I expressed my sorrow and abhorrence for what had happened to him and that I would pray for him . He has since passed away but I will never forget that day.

In all three cases I felt totally helpless and stricken that a parent or adult who should be trustworthy betrayed the innocence of children, and how that betrayal chased them the rest of their lives. Colleen’s book tears off the veil of secrecy and shroud of silence used by society to shield abusers. That’s what needs to happen. She gives hope to all of us that childhood sexual abuse doesn’t need to be a death sentence for happiness and joy in life and that healing, though a lengthy process, is possible.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

(Click on the link above to read why I end my posts this way.)

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Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 Book Review

3 Comments to Book Review: The Third Floor Window

  1. Oh Barb, I do not know what to say. This is one of the best reviews of my book that I have read. Not just because it was so positive, but because you really seemed to get what I was trying to say. I am so grateful. You have given me such a gift. Thank you. God bless.

  2. colleen on June 4th, 2013
  3. Thanks be to God.

  4. barb on June 4th, 2013
  5. beautifully written review that shines an amazingly insightful beam of light on Colleen’s book.

  6. motherofnine9 on June 5th, 2013


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