What I did on my summer vacation
Surviving and helping others learn from a boyhood of sexual abuse
By Paul M. Hambke with Martin C. Calder

To see sections of this book in a PDF, please click here.

To read answers to questions that have been put to author Paul M. Hambke, please click here.

This survivor's account of how he was helped to come to terms with being sexually abused throughout his boyhood provides opportunities for a wide range of people to learn from what the author experienced. The main part of the book is:
  • a harrowing, first person account of the abuse suffered by the author from the ages of six to eighteen. It is graphically illustrated with the author's own drawings, which most people will find deeply upsetting.
  • the author's account of his personal journey to come to terms with his abuse. Greatly assisted by art therapy, it offers unique opportunities for fellow survivors, child protection workers, therapists, and even perpetrators who are receiving treatment from a professional, to see what can be learned about profoundly harmful abuse, preventing it, and charting a path to recovery if prevention fails.

  • In the second part of the book Martin Calder:
  • crosschecks Paul's account with known theoretical frameworks of understanding and response
  • uses this knowledge to explain and enhance how we work with male survivors of abuse and their abusers
  • raises questions that any professional using Paul's book needs to consider.

  • Martin's message to perpetrators is that we now 'have a clearer causal understanding of your behaviour... we are harnessing this knowledge into initiatives that will help us prevent your activities.' His message to survivors is that 'we are more familiar with the pathways you have been taken down, and we now have a much clearer map and compass to help you successfully chart a path to recovery.'

    Paul's message is that 'someday, someone could come to you and tell you they've been assaulted in a similar way. It could be your own kid, or a friend. Or it could be you. Perhaps this book will help you prepare for that, and you'll be better able to handle it... I hope you find some benefit from it. Proceed at your own risk, but be kind and gentle to yourselves always.'

  • Survivors may identify similar experiences and relate to them; and take some of the coping strategies used and apply them in their own circumstances.
  • Those concerned with helping victims of abuse can use the materials to show others that they are not alone; and that impacts can be moderated and overcome with the right support and help.
  • Perpetrators of abuse need to hear and see the life-long impact of their behaviour and to be faced with this in the pursuit of accepting some responsibility.
  • Those concerned with changing the behaviour of abusers may integrate the messages in their intervention programmes.
  • Those concerned with protecting the vulnerable from abuse can use the mixture of messages to help develop keep safe strategies.
  • Those concerned with law and justice may need to rethink their high threshold for action when the harm experienced is so multi-faceted and enduring, and may be contingent on seeing the perpetrator held legally responsible for their actions.

  • A4 landscape paperback. 144 pages. 978-1-905541-59-1. Published 2010. £16.95. Reduced from previous price of £24.95


  • Students, lecturers and practitioners in youth work, social work, criminology, psychology; and their libraries
  • Survivors of childhood sexual abuse
  • Anyone with an interest in, or responsibility for, the safeguarding of children and young people
  • Counsellors and therapists who work with both the survivors and the perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse
  • Even perpetrators themselves who are receiving treatment from a professional


    Foreword by Martin C. Calder
    Summer vacation (and what it meant)
    I have always known
    Ages six to nine
    Ages nine to twelve
    Music and its meanings
    Ages twelve to nineteen
    Dear old dad
    Good old mom
    College and beyond
    Collecting stepfathers
    Family dynamics
    About physicians
    Talk therapy
    Leaving the news
    Returning to therapy
    Lines and textures
    Some people don't get it
    Stocktaking our understanding of impact: applying the experience in practice situations by Martin C. Calder


    Paul M. Hambke
    has been a professional writer and/or editor for twenty-six years, working as a newspaper reporter and editor, a university journalism professor and publications director, and in non-fiction book publishing. He has worked on survivor and recovery issues since 1986. What I Did On My Summer Vacation is his first book.

    Martin C. Calder is an internationally known trainer, consultant and author. Full details can be found at www.caldertrainingandconsultancy.co.uk


    "As a victim myself, and having counselled hundreds of other victims, male and female, over the past ten years, as well as having written several books about 'child abuse', and read many more, it may surprise you to hear that reading Paul Hambke's account of the sexual abuse he suffered between the ages of six and 18 was a shocking experience for me. This was not because of the graphic language and illustrations in the book, but because everything he said was instantly recognisable, to the extent that, at times, I found myself saying out loud what was coming next, before I had even read the words.

    "This book tells it like it is, even starting with a challenge to the way in which we often refer to 'child abuse'. Hambke suggests that calling it abuse 'somehow makes it less of a crime'. He is right, of course. 'Sexual assault' is the term he uses instead, but I would go even further and suggest that 'psychosexual trauma in childhood' is what we are really talking about, and that is what is reflected in this book. It covers not only the awful suffering he underwent at the hands of sadistic, often violent, predatory paedophiles, but the fact that although the perpetrators are not identified by the author, it is obvious they were well known to his mother at least. This account is harrowing to read, which is how it should be. The sexual assault of a child by an adult is a totally destructive event, starting with the gradual disintegration of the child's life, and leading to the subsequent, toxic legacy that can then destroy the child's chances of developing into a rounded, productive adult. The evidence for this entire process is clearly demonstrated in both the story and the images in this book.

    "Hambke's book also gives a detailed and painful account of the years he spent in and out of therapy, as he struggled to come to terms with the events he had experienced, and with all of the additional psychological problems that developed in later life, long after the abuse itself had stopped. I was able to relate to much of this in very personal terms, as he was telling a story that I already knew, in every gut-wrenching detail.

    "Having said that, you don't have to be a victim to benefit from this book. The author's courage in sharing his profound and thought-provoking disclosure will be of significant value to a wide range of individuals working with victims of psychosexual trauma in children and young people. Will gain useful insight into the nature and consequences of what so many still call 'child abuse', a term I suspect that many will re-think after reading the book."
    Graham Wilmer, Author, Survivor and Founder of The Lantern Project, in Child Abuse Review.

    "Paul Hambke's and Martin Calder's book What I Did On My Summer Vacation is an exceptionally powerful and empowering contribution to the field of healing and prevention of child sexual abuse for two reasons. It makes more visible the still under represented experience of male survivors. Secondly, it does so in a way which does not perpetuate the usual safety mechanisms that are used to talk about such a distressing issue. It is achieved by the uncompromising imagery, language and description of Paul's testimony.

    This is important because society's chronic tendencies to veil the issue inhibit survivors' scope for healing, as well as children's access to safety. For example, calling it child sexual 'assault' instead of 'abuse' or 'molestation' immediately makes children equal to adults - conceptually, perceptually, and legalistically. The images speak for themselves. They do not allow any hiding place from the reality of what a child goes through. They challenge the cliched advice survivors hear to forget the experience and move on.

    Another challenge to this is effectively made by Paul's descriptions of dissociation, flashbacks and triggers. This is backed up by Martin Calder's section which provides further known information, on these phenomena as well as the wider social environmental factors that influence a child's vulnerability. He also gives an outline of these as applied to Paul's experience, and as such integrates an individual case within the broader spectrums.

    Both authors are very articulate in enabling an excruciatingly painful subject to be addressed in a focused and succinct way - for survivors, their supporters, professionals and towards the broader public intelligence about child sexual assault." MOSAC (Mothers of Sexually Abused Children)

    "What I did on my summer vacation is a powerful, if disturbing, account of the harmful effects of childhood sexual abuse; brilliantly written by one who knows first-hand. As such it makes an ideal text for tutors, or professionals wishing to work with survivors of abuse. It will also make an excellent resource for those working with persons with sexually harmful behaviour as a means of illustrating the hurt they have caused." Paul Harrison, National Child Care Specialist, Health Service Executive, Ireland & Research Associate, School of Social Work, Trinity College Dublin.

    "I challenge anyone not to be disturbed by the content of this book. However, if they cannot look at the drawings and read the text then how can they possibly provide a service to vulnerable, sexually abused children and adult survivors? If they can hear the complex messages in this book then they will be able to hear the voices of those children who have such difficulty speaking of the crimes committed against them and who commonly go unheard or are met with disbelief and avoidance.

    "This is an exceptionally powerful book. I found it initially difficult to read because it was so painful and triggered many memories of my work with sexually abused children, their families and the perpetrators.

    "I can use much of the content in teaching students and post-qualified professionals but I would select images and text to illustrate particular dynamics or situations of abuse to bring the child's perspective into sharp focus.

    "This to me is the key strength of the book - the child's experience of sexual crime - I have not seen this portrayed in such an intense way ever before. The book will inform academics and policy-makers of the complex nature of this form of child abuse and will demonstrate the high level of skill and knowledge required to provide an effective professional service to child victims and their families.

    "This book will certainly assist those professionals who work with child victims and conduct interviews or medical examinations. It provides an in depth perspective through the eyes of the child which will inform those professionals how to enter the world of the traumatised child.

    "Martin Calder's commentary enables the reader to put the text and graphics into context and to transfer the learning from the book to the experience of other children and survivors.

    "I would recommend this book for social work students only at the third level or at second year masters level. It should be used also on post qualifying courses particularly if these courses do not involve survivors in the teaching programmes.

    "The impact of this book will not be immediately obvious but there will certainly be children who will gain protection and justice as a result of the improved skills and understanding of those professionals who did read the book from cover to cover and who then applied the messages to their practice."Dr Liz Davies, Senior Lecturer in Children and Families Social Work, London Metropolitan University

    "What I Did on my Summer Vacation is a must-read for anyone working with child sexual abuse victims. Hard-hitting with compelling text, incredible illustrations and a thorough clinical analysis, What I Did on my Summer Vacation puts you inside of the mind of the survivor to gain comprehensive insight into the impact of childhood sexual abuse. This book is an outstanding resource for personal healing and educating perpetrators about the pain that they cause their victims." William G. Allenbaugh II, MA CAC, Licensed Psychologist, Director, Project Point of Light of DuBois, Inc. (Project Point of Light is a court-enforced counseling program for perpetrators of child sexual assault. It is an outcome-based program which targets adults and adolescents who experience difficulty as a result of inappropriate sexual behavior. Services are also available to victims and non-offending parents. Allenbaugh was one of the first treatment providers in Pennsylvania to use objective sexual interest testing and polygraphs as part of the assessment of criminal offenders. Allenbaugh has served on the Pennsylvania Megan's Law Board and teaches courses relating to the treatment of sex offenders and other topics at Pennsylvania State University DuBois.)

    "What I Did... struck me as something I needed to read. When I picked it up, I didn't just read it, I got stuck in the mind of a man who had grown, changed and become something more than what he was before. While reading this, I found myself completely entangled in the story and the recovery process. As a professor of Psychology, I found this story to be one that stirs the mind and reveals how one ticks when their internal hardware has been, for lack of a better phrase, messed with." Eric Mankowski, Ph. D. (Psychology), Professor of Applied Community and Social Psychology, Portland State University. (Portland State University is an urban school, set in downtown Portland, Oregon. The school is best known for its work in Social Sciences, Urban Development and Planning and for their work in greener technologies.)

    "Some of my students have come to me, asking how children who were subjected to abuse at early ages manage to survive, and how they change as they grow. Most of the time, I would answer as I had been taught, but since reading 'What I Did...,' I find myself considering the answer to that question more and more. After fifteen years of preaching what my professors taught me back in my college days, I am stunned to find a totally different viewpoint of what all psychologists see at some point or another: a struggle that cannot be won without great sacrifice and great determination." Robert E. Roeser, Ph.D. (psychology), Professor of Applied Developmental Psychology, Portland State University.

    "I have a few students who have come into my office over the last year or so, wanting some sort of background knowledge on how to treat some of their possible clients in whatever job they may end up taking. I always think back to my decade in Social Services and wonder what resources I had to help me along my path. Quite honestly, had I been given a book like 'What I Did...' I might have been able to give more aid to a few particular clients. This is a valuable tool that my students would be lucky to have access to." Margaret Everett, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology, Portland State University

    "Going back and forth through the pages, I found myself riveted to the spot, wondering how the author survived. That alone was enough to convince me that I wanted to own the book. I can't say that I would use it all the time if I was back working in Social Services instead of teaching, but I daresay that, if a client walked in and revealed just how much they had suffered to me, I might just reach for 'What I Did...' It's not the same kind of book you see in a professor's office all the time, but it has a place on my bookshelf now." Peter Collier, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Service Learning and Sociology, Portland State University

    "I spent twenty years serving people who had seen the worst of life, from abusive situations to poverty-level situations to anything and everything the world could have thrown at them. I've never seen anything like what is presented in this book. I was privileged to have received the chance to take a look at it." Samuel W. Gioia, Instructor to Bachelor's in Social Work students, Portland State University

    "This book reminds me of some of the worst days I spent on the job. It also reminds me of some of the best. Had I been equipped to aid those who need this sort of treatment back when I was practicing, I think I could have changed a lot of bad situations into good ones. Anyone who is going into some form of employment at a Social Services organization should at least take the time to look at this book. You never know when you might need the information contained within. I wish I had known earlier." Jennifer Linnman, Instructor of Child and Family Studies, Portland State University