“Seldom have I encountered a book with such heart, depth and compassion. [The book] includes profiles of survivors sharing their feelings of shame, fear, pain and anger. Gorgeous photographs help us put a face to their stories of triumph over darkness and pain. Eloquently written and deeply touching, I highly recommend [this] book to survivors, their friends and families and the psychotherapists who work with them.”
Beverly Engel, LMFT, author of more than twenty self-help books including, It Wasn’t Your Fault: Freeing Yourself from the Shame of Childhood Abuse with the Power of Self-Compassion.
“Emily Samuelson has given us a treasure: first person accounts by traumatized individuals that demonstrate their resourcefulness and resilience in addition to their hurts and psychic wounds. With delicacy and empathy, she has gathered together an extraordinary group of stories. It is a wonderful accomplishment.”
Richard Gartner, PhD, Founding Director of Sexual Abuse Service, William Alanson White Institute, New York City. Author: Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life after Boyhood Sexual Abuse and Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men; Co-Founder and Past President: MaleSurvivor
“Dr. Samuelson has compiled a book that is both disturbing and inspiring. The reader’s disturbance comes from the graphic tales of abuse, and survivors’ struggles for recognition and help. The inspiration comes from how they made sense of what happened to them and how they heroically survived and overcame their past. A very compelling book, illustrated with arresting photos of the survivors, for both professionals and the general public”
Christine A. Courtois, PhD, ABPP, Past-President, Divi.56, Trauma Psychology, American Psychological Assoc. New Books: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Scientific and Professional Dimensions, 2nd ed.; It’s Not You, It’s What Happened To You; Spiritually-Oriented Treatment of Trauma
“Emily Samuelson has brought together a virtual support group of thriving survivors who have been on the hero’s journey. Their travels through darkness and pain into the light give inspiring testimony that it is possible to heal from sexual abuse.”
Marilyn Van Derbur, incest survivor, former Miss America, and author, Miss America By Day
“After a chaotic year, Samuelson unearthed a terrible memory: Her father had sexually assaulted her. In her debut book, she recalls grappling with this new discovery. It’s a cruel irony, but going through the healing process while treating abused kids allowed the author to provide keen insights into the psyche, lending a human touch to the hard work of recovering from abuse.
…Samuelson compiles accounts of fellow survivors in an as-told-to format…[She] is careful to frame each interview within a larger context of processing abuse, interspersing chapters with vivid observations and experiences of her own. She talks about the power shame wields over survivors, the importance of boundaries, and the problem of extreme self-doubt, deftly bringing the issues from abstraction to reality by using her own life as an example. All of the interviewees’ accounts are accompanied by portraits, their looks of joy and determination emphasizing just how much Samuelson’s subjects have achieved.
A deeply humanist portrait of healing and freedom. ”
“Emily Samuelson’s brilliant book, Soaring Above the Ashes, comes at a crucial time in history, as the world continues to grapple with the #MeToo movement. Bringing her expertise as a trauma therapist, and her experiences as a survivor of child sexual abuse, Samuelson’s book paints portraits of people who have not only survived, but thrived in the aftermath of abuse. Her narrative voice is interspersed with the voices of other survivors, bringing a collage of varied demographics to life. Her stunning photographs underscore the courage of the people who participated in her project, boldly not only telling their stories, but showing their faces as well. Her subjects cross ethnic, racial, and gender boundaries, illustrating that sexual abuse permeates many aspects of society. She draws the reader in with a perspective of “us” rather than “them.”
The book appeals to readers who have been through similar struggles, validating their challenges and celebrating their triumphs. But it also appeals to thoughtful readers who have not personally experienced abuse, both as a study of social science, but also as a literary treasure, balancing the different voices and perspectives in an expert example of storytelling.”
“”Outstanding” is the best word to describe Emily Samuelson’s new book Soaring Above the Ashes! More than a dozen stories are told from the point of view of survivors of sexual abuse–given with names and photographs. The author tells her own personal story as well, although hers also includes clinical observations drawn from thirty-five years of therapeutic practice with survivors of trauma. I literally could not put the book down, and I read it twice. This volume about going through pain and anger into healing light will be helpful to survivors, relatives, and therapists. It is quite a compelling tale, well-told and compassionate.”
—Lorie Szarek, Baltimore, Maryland.
“I highly recommend this book for survivors, for professionals, for friends and family, or for anyone with a compassionate heart. Soaring Above the Ashes is part textbook, part stories, and part testimony. Surely the survivors featured in this book are heroic, and their accounts are raw, honest, and real. Dr. Samuelson has woven her own commentary between the survivor’s accounts, and in doing so she offers both a personal experience and clear, descriptive professional perspective that is validating and educational. I found myself re-reading passages because I found the writing to be so beautiful. The combination of clinical, psychologically significant information with imagery, tone, and compassion brought this book alive for me in a way that neither textbook nor biography has. I can’t say enough good about this book, and I have a feeling it is one I will re-read and share many times over.”
—Laura Greer, LCSW-C.
“Emily Samuelson’s book is beautifully written and profoundly moving. Reading each person’s story filled me with compassion. The photographs show people who live with courage and dignity. We all participate in the society that surrounds childhood sexual abuse. Read this book, learn what to look for, and let’s be vigilant on behalf of children.”
— Jaye Apgar.
“Because this book is about the disturbing topic of childhood sexual abuse, I was a bit apprehensive about reading it. Instead, however, I found it to be compelling, uplifting and deeply insightful. As a therapist, I gained more understanding about the terrible impact childhood sexual abuse has upon the psyches and spirits of those who have been abused, and, through the powerful, and often humor-filled, transparent self-disclosures of Dr. Samuelson, I came to see that it is possible for victims to become triumphant survivors. Reading Dr. Samuelson’s personal story, and those of all the courageous people she interviewed, made me inspired by the power of the human spirit. I hope this adds to the healing of all those who are finding the strength to be silent no more.”
—Annette Schloss, MA.
“This well-written book of hope is a terrific resource for sexual abuse survivors, their partners, friends and family members. If you are a survivor and feeling hopeless, think that your emotional pain is intractable and life will never get better, please know this need not be your story, your destiny. Even if you fall into a chasm of despair periodically, this book bears proud witness that even in the most horrific cases of abuse, it is not only possible to survive but to actually thrive, to soar (as Dr. Samuelson so eloquently states in her title). There can definitely be a full and meaningful life beyond sexual abuse, and this book provides strong evidence of that possibility.
If you are a partner, friend or family member, you can gather a clear understanding of why sexual abuse devastates your loved one, and why it is not simply something one can forget, get over or tuck into their past.
An accumulation of interviews with a diverse population of survivors, every story is compelling, and each is told in a unique voice. Between each interview, Dr. Samuelson provides psychological understanding of different aspects of sexual abuse that often confound survivors.
Each survivor’s story offers another stepping stone of hope. I am truly grateful to each of the book’s survivors for being willing to share their experience, strength and hope as a beacon for those who follow you on this arduous journey. As a result of your courage, other survivors know that they are not alone, the only one to whom terrible things happened, but that strength and possibility can follow this difficult journey. And selfishly, as a result of your bravery, I now have a valuable resource to offer my SA clients and those who care about them.
There is perhaps no more fundamental need for a survivor (and their loved ones) to hear than there is definitely light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Dr. Samuelson’s book provides this light.
One word of caution. Do not try to digest such a book in one sitting, as some survivors attempt when psychically numb. This is to be read and absorbed slowly, one story or one page at a time, as needed.”
—Christine Garwood LCSW-C.
“Dr. Samuelson’s book on Childhood Sexual Abuse is written in beautiful prose and tells the compelling stories of other survivors as well as her own story. The book is informative, intimate, and honest and the reader walks away understanding both the devastation of childhood abuse and the possibility for deep healing, growth, and thriving.
As a clinician, I appreciate that this book is equally powerful for those who work in the trauma field as well as for people who are curious to know more about the strength and determination of those who have suffered early in their lives. Be prepared to be drawn into the stories of remarkable individuals and to understand better the struggles and triumphs written by a skilled and caring professional.”
—Claudia Cameron, LCSW-C.
“The thing that stands out to me about Dr. Samuelson’s riveting book is the exquisite writing. The poignant narratives shared by the sexual abuse survivors, including Dr. Samuelson, and the psychological concepts inherent in this issue, are written in a way that is both compelling and accessible to any reader, no matter their level of education or familiarity with this difficult topic. The written material is accompanied by photographic portraits of the contributors that add a very human and connective element to what they have bravely shared. Although the topic of sexual abuse is so difficult to be present to, particularly when it is comes from the very personal words of real survivors, I found it hard to put this book down. Thank you, Dr. Samuelson.”
—Anne Pearce, LCSW-C.
“In this beautiful book, Dr Emily Samuelson writes of her own history of sexual abuse and her journey through pain to healing. Interspersed are the narratives and photos she compiled of other survivors she met. Dr. Samuelson’s clinical expertise as a trauma therapist and her clear, strong voice combine to create a memoir of hope and transformation. This book is a must read for survivors and clinicians as it confirms that healing is possible, and profound”
—Dana Rosenstein, LCSW-C.
“This important book about sexual abuse-incest-and Dr. Samuelson’s own memoir is open, honest and real. The interviews of people who truly soar above all that has happened to them—seeing them now hopeful, fierce, and emotionally strong—is a testimony to speaking one’s own truth. Their portraits are a revelation.”
—Judith G. Kresloff.
“This book is a gem, both for therapists, and also for empowering and validating sexual abuse survivors. Thoroughly recommended for all helping professionals in the field of trauma.”
—Linda Bec, LCSW.
“Emily Samuelson has written a book with a lot of heart. As a psychologist who specializes in treating trauma, she knows the territory from an intellectual perspective. As a survivor of sexual abuse, she knows the territory on a visceral level. Putting the two together makes this book profound, informative, moving and inspiring.
As a trauma therapist myself, I work with many survivors. I am in awe of Emily’s ability to capture, not only her own story of healing, but also the faces and stories of others. In my opinion, Emily is a courageous, compassionate, creative woman and this book is a beautiful example of her intellectual and emotional gifts.”
—Julie Warren, LCSW-C.
“This book is a stunner. Beautifully written and carefully crafted. Childhood sexual abuse is a subject that I have been following for many, many years. Rarely have i come across a book that provides a sense of hope in the midst of such harrowing experience. Dr. Samuelson’s bravery and painstaking tracking of her own abuse, how she came to know the details of her memories and pursue a myriad of healing modalities provides inspiration for anyone struggling with demons of any sort. Her subjects, in their variety and range of experience, are positive examples for us all. Each one of us has his or her own journey. There are no rules as to the best process, no road is direct or without missteps. All that matters is how willing we are to do what it takes to heal. no matter what.
Dr. Samuelson is a beacon of light in her fierce pursuit of truth and healing. Her book is a manual and a companion. I expect my copy to be beyond dog-eared in years to come.”
“This book presents the healing stories of a diverse group of adult sexual abuse survivors, accompanied by captivating portraits taken by the author. She weaves in details of her own healing journey, enhanced by knowledge, research and insight gained in her many years of therapeutic work with survivors. Her writing is authentic and accessible; compelling in its compassion. This book would be of major interest to survivors, psychotherapists, and anyone seeking to better understand trauma.”
—C. Taylor, LCSW-C.
“Deftly and humbly written, Dr. Samuelson has parlayed to us a world that too few endorse—healing and thriving from childhood sexual abuse. By skillfully weaving her own story throughout the book, along with stories of truly amazing survivors, she creates support and hope. Dr. Samuelson’s humility and tenacious passion for creating healing both inspires and ignites the sparks of advocacy for the reader. As a trauma clinician, I highly recommend this book to clinicians and survivors, and anyone else that wants to connect with hope, healing and authenticity. I plan on keeping a stack of this book in my office for anyone that wants to connect. Thank you, Dr. Samuelson!”
—Lori Lickstein, MSW.
“This is a book about hope &healing. All of the survivors depicted illustrate that with hard work & compassion from self & others one can thrive & find a stronger self.
Dr. Samuelson’s account of the pain of recovering memories of sexual abuse by someone who was loved & trusted is vivid & accurate. With her honesty & transparency she has given the gift of insight into the struggle to accept the reality of incest & its effect on one’s growth & development as well as hope for healing. A phenomenal book for both professionals & survivors.”
—Ann Lehwald. LCSW-C.