Light Shines in the Darkness: My Healing Journey Through Sexual Abuse and Depression

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by Lucille F. Sider

Clinical psychologist and clergywoman Lucille F. Sider adds her voice to the chorus of women who have shared their stories in the #WhyIDidntReport movement. In Light Shines in the Darkness, Sider shares her story of resilience and hope as a survivor of sexual abuse, facing the legal and spiritual challenges that are so daunting. Lucille’s focus on positive mental health and spiritual practices has given her stability from major mental illness including PTSD and depression that stemmed from her sexual abuse.

Order Light Shines in the Darkness paperback and hardcover editions on

Order Light Shines in the Darkness paperback and hardcover editions on

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ISBN: 978-1-64180-024-2

Praise for Light Shines in the Darkness

“Timely, compelling and courageous, this autobiography lays bare the trauma of both child and adolescent abuse. This book deserves to be read by any adult who, living in a culture where 80 percent of females have experienced some form of sexual abuse by the age of 18, are no longer content to keep their proverbial head in the sand.”

Carol Schreck, Professor Emerita of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Palmer Theological Seminary. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Kairos Counseling Services, Devon, PA.


Lucille’s poignant and heartfelt account of mental illness, survival, and recovery, drew me in and reminded me that courage is born out of the struggles and hopes of ordinary folks, and healing comes through simple kindnesses and the love of those who stand by our side through it all. Lucille’s story inspires. Whether we are living in a place of hurt and shame, or care for those who are, Light Shines in the Darkness inspires us all to live into hope.

Lisanne Finston, MDiv., MSW, Executive Director, Gould Farm.


From the first compelling sentences, Lucille invites the reader into the rooms of her soul. Each room has a different texture and fabric that adds depth in the process of healing.  I walked into some areas of my own heart that had been closed and was restored. The book is arranged to also be a valuable tool in the hands of persons in the helping professions, such as clergy, social workers, psychologists. In this manner a story may be excerpted for a particular person with whom you are journeying toward a healing process. This writing is so powerful, yet gentle that people will be able to add their own words to combat the pain. Lucille’s credentials enhance the power of the story. Truly a book for these days!

The Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent Emerita and Ambassador of The Wesleyan Church and author of The Ultimate Blessing: My Journey to Discover God’s Presence.


Darkness permeates much of Lucille Sider’s book, as she recounts her sexual abuse as a child and teen, her marriages and divorces, and her struggles with mental illness. But her honesty and insight help the reader to see these challenges with exceptional clarity, and her faith and resilience provide a guiding light to those in similar situations. At one point in Light Shines in the Darkness, she learns that the biblical word “blessed” can also mean “mature” or “ripe.” Readers will be blessed by this story of adversity, faith, maturity and ripeness.

The Rev. Henry G. Brinton, Presbyterian pastor and author of The Welcoming Congregation: Roots and Fruits of Christian Hospitality.


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Clinical psychologist and clergywoman Lucille F. Sider adds her voice to the chorus of women in the #WhyIDidntReport and #MeToo movements. This is Lucille’s story of resilience and hope as a survivor of sexual abuse. She explains the challenges of finding her way out of a fear-based spirituality into one that is full of grace, hope and forgiveness. The unique richness of her book is that she wrote it to spark healing discussion. As she describes her experiences in these pages, she also steps back and offers helpful analysis as both a psychologist and a clergywoman. At the end of the book, she includes a complete study guide with questions for reflection for individuals, small groups and classes.

Lucille was just 6 years old when she was abused both physically and sexually by a hired man on the family’s farm. Lucille’s inner conflict about these experiences propelled her into a childhood of guilt and shame. While Lucille was an outstanding student, singer and athlete, she lived with an underlying fear, loneliness and mild depression. A second sexual abuse by her brother-in-law, when she was just 15 years old, added to Lucille’s fears. When she tried to tell her parents about this, their response was only to pray for her—so, she kept these painful events secret for years. Many years later, her brother in law was arrested for molesting a 15-year-old girl. Lucille and others, including his own daughter, testified against him and he was incarcerated.

Raised in a conservative household and faith, Lucille went to college and seminary to search for a theology that was full of grace and forgiveness. She found this especially at Yale Divinity School, though she always lived with a mild depression. Her struggle to understand both her faith and psyche led her to earn a PhD from Northwestern University in psychology and religion. She became a clinical psychologist and pastoral counselor and later the Executive Director of The Samaritan Pastoral Counseling Center in Evanston, Illinois.

At age 50, when her husband suddenly divorced her, Lucille was cast into darkness and despair which resulted in major depression. Lucille became dysfunctional and had to step down as Executive Director of her counseling center. Years of therapy led her to new ways of offering and sharing her gifts, which included writing stories and ministering to seniors, especially those suffering from dementia. 

In Light Shines in the Darkness, Lucille F. Sider shares her unique story of sexual abuse and severe mental illness, including depression and PTSD. She describes her legal battle in fighting for justice and her ongoing persistence in finding ways to remain stable. She calls these her mental health and spiritual practices and they include: counseling, medication, meditation, healthy diet, exercise, daily prayer and church attendance. In sharing her story, Lucille now is helping others along their journeys from sexual abuse to stability—to find their own hope and their own light that shines through the darkness.


Lucille F. Sider is a clinical psychologist and clergywoman. She earned both a master of arts in religion from Yale Divinity School and a master of science from the University of Kentucky. She was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Northwestern University in the fields of psychology and religion. She is an ordained minister by the First Congregational Church, Evanston, Illinois.

Lucille was Executive Director of The Samaritan Pastoral Counseling Center in Evanston, Illinois. While there, she was licensed as a clinical psychologist and became a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. Lucille is now retired but remains active as a volunteer in the Lighthouse program at Edgewater Presbyterian Church in Chicago and also at two retirement communities, focusing on people with memory disabilities.

She also is a popular speaker, writer, teacher and workshop leader.