“Poppies on the Rubbish Heap” by Madge Bray

Subtitle: Sexual Abuse, The Child’s Voice

Madge Bray shares her journey as a child advocate social worker, along with several abused children’s case histories. Woven through the book is the history of recognition and backlash around the sexual abuse of children. Madge Bray pioneered the use of toys and play therapy to elicit children’s stories and help them heal.

The toys include anatomically correct dolls, angry puppets, and a battery-operated rabbit that trembles silently. Madge Bray offers a neutral, welcoming space for the children to interact with the toys and find self-expression. She enters into their world rather than demanding that they communicate in adult ways.

The book is intense and riveting. It tells of catastrophic abuse from the wounded child’s perspective, as the child is heard and helped. It tells of victorious court battles as well as one story about a child whose parents withdrew him from therapy before he could tell his story.

Recommended as a look into social work with children in England, the realities of child sexual abuse, and the healing power of deep listening.

Available at Amazon.com.

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