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Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault (Re:Lit)
 
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Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault (Re:Lit) [Kindle Edition]

Lindsey A. Holcomb , Justin S. Holcomb , Mark Driscoll

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Product Description

The statistics are jarring. One in four women and one in six men have been sexually assaulted. But as sobering as the statistics are, they don’t begin to speak to the darkness and grief experienced by these victims. Because sexual assault causes physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual pain, victims need clear help, hope, and healing. In Rid of My Disgrace, a couple experienced in counseling victims of sexual assault explains how the grace of God can heal the broken and restore the disgraced.


Justin and Lindsey Holcomb outline an approach for moving from destruction to redemption. While avoiding platitudes and shallow theology, Rid of My Disgrace combines biblical and theological depth with up-to-date research. This book is primarily written for those who have been assaulted (either as children or adults) but also equips family, friends, pastors, and others to care for victims in ways that are compassionate, practical, and informed. Part of the Re:Lit series.


Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1805 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway Books (Jan. 5 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004IEAJM8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #133,199 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  64 reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even if sin goes deeper than you could ever imagine, God's grace goes deeper still. Jan. 30 2011
By JJ Sherwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This review first appeared at TGC Reviews [[...]], an online publication of The Gospel Coalition.

In a fallen world where unspeakable evil occurs, the church must be a place that shines the hope of the gospel into the darkness. One dark corner of our world is sexual assault. The statistics are astonishing. One in four women and one in six men have been or will be victims of sexual assault. The effects are horrific. And the world is not short of remedies: self-help, self-love, and self-heal. Unfortunately for the victims, these answers are "horrible news."

Justin Holcomb, a pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, and his wife, Lindsey Holcomb, equip the church to rise and meet the challenge of helping victims of sexual assault, not by the empty hope of self-help, but by grace, redemption, and restoration in the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let me be up front with the matter. I really liked this book. Pastors should read it, and victims of abuse will be encouraged by the authors' honesty and care. So to briefly comment on the book's content and its usefulness to pastors, counselors, and victims, let me give four brief reflections on its value to the local church's ministry to the afflicted.

First, Rid Of My Disgrace deals honestly and directly with sexual assault. It presents a clear and full definition, giving victims, churches and pastors clarity on what constitutes sexual assault. They describe in vivid detail numerous effects the assault brings upon a person. Victims will feel like they are not alone, while pastors and counselors will have an invaluable resource for learning what is going on inside the victim when their own words cannot express the inner turmoil. We need an honest and direct book because "surveys and studies indicate that most people know almost nothing about the dynamics of sexual violence and have little or no experience in dealing with it."

Second, Rid of My Disgrace displays the prevalence of sexual assault and its effect on the victims. "One in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. These statistics are probably underestimates . . . every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted." These numbers are overwhelmingly high, even considering the problem of under-reporting, and it knows no boundaries of "color, race, religion, nationality, lifestyle, sexual preference, education, class, occupation, ability, or disability." No matter where we live or minister, there are hurting people all around us, even on Sunday mornings.

The only thing more sobering than the numbers is its effect. Sexual assault can affect every aspect of your life: "your faith, your daily attitudes and emotions, your-self image, your relationships, and your sexuality." Our churches, along with their pastors, ministers, staffs, and volunteers, can discover new avenues for gospel proclamation and transformation if we can begin to grasp the prevalence of sexual assault and its devastating effects.

Third, Rid Of My Disgrace is gospel-centered and immensely practical. The foundation for healing from the first pages is the gospel. The Holcombs never stop returning to it, continually pointing people to the grace found in Christ alone. God's way of redeeming his people was through Christ's suffering on the cross, but the cross is also where our disgrace is transformed. This a practical theology of grace applied to the disgraceful experiences and effects of sexual assault. Our counseling ministry will have this book on hand and will be used in our training seminars classes.

Fourth, God is glorified in every chapter. One of the phrases you hear at Mars Hill Church is "It's all about Jesus," and this book is no exception, as Jesus is exalted on every page. God's grace, his "one-way, unconditional love expressed through, and founded on, the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ" is marveled at from cover to cover. Even if you have never been sexually assaulted or have never ministered to someone who has, this book will cause you to contemplate the depths of the riches of the grace of God in the person and work of Jesus.

Sin is devastating. Maybe more than we realize most days. But the wretched nature of sexual assault gives us a glimpse of sin's deep darkness. However, the Holcombs show that even if sin goes deeper than you could ever imagine, God's grace goes deeper still.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great help for victims of sexual violence. Jan. 30 2011
By Carl A. Dixon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a well prepared book by Justin and Lindsey. The book has a multiple audience. It is definitely for those who are in a struggle to overcome the sexual improprieties of their past - but it is also an important book for those who minister to or counsel this group of people. I have been a Pastor for almost 30 years and have found this book the best, biblical based treatment of the problem. The 1st part of the book is especially helpful for those reading it who intend to be counselors of various kinds toward sexually abused men and women. We have a very active counseling ministry at our church and this book will become a guide for them to be even more helpful than they have in the past. The book also alerts those who may not know just how large an issue this is. The statistic that is most helpful is that 1 in 4 women have been raped and 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused. The authors then suggest that this is one of the most unreported crimes in the United States at least. I have a friend in law enforcement who deals directly with these sorts of crimes and he says definitely the statistics are very understated. That means that those of us who deal with larger audiences (congregations) are speaking to many men and women who need to hear this message and know where they can get help. I am promoting the purchase of this book as often as I can. I also appreciate the solutions the book offers. The series of stories by people who have been abused are heart-wrenching. I have been brought to tears reading them. But each story is followed up with clear Biblical teaching and easy to understand applications for the the reader to grasp. I am not aware of any other book that could compete with the way this book handles the problem and solutions. Anyone who reads this book will be given the information they need to help others or be helped and most important - the reader will understand how large a problem sexual violence is in our society (in our churches) today.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, helpful, and Christ-centered on a difficult issue Feb. 28 2011
By Jacob Young - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One if four women and one in six men (statistically) will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. Which means, that if there are four women and six men who read this post, 1/5 of them will have been, or will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. That's a staggering amount of people. If you're like me, you're easily left having a vague notion of the horror of this sin, baffled with a broken heart for the victims of sexual assault, and wondering, "How can Jesus help these people?!" Jesus says he comes to heal the broken, surely if anybody can be described as broken, it's the victims of sexual assault.

Justin Holcomb and Lindsey Holcomb step along side us in Rid of My Disgrace and help us see the glorious power of Christ to give hope and healing for victims of sexual assault.

I'll be honest, I read this book backwards. I know, authors have their order of chapters for a reason, but I was far more concerned with how they ended the book then how they began it. Far too often people begin with good intentions of helping the broken, but end in shady places. The Holcomb's never even come close to this temptation. In part three of Rid of My Disgrace, "Grace Accomplished", they end, essentially, with a Biblical Theology of how shame and grace interact throughout the Bible and culminate in the person and work of Jesus Christ. They do this to help victims of sexual assault find their sin's place (both sins done against them and their own sins against God) in the story of God's accomplished redemption plan in Jesus Christ.

There are two things to note here: 1) The Holcombs do not play games with psycologizing healing for sexual assault victims. They come into the issue with the Gospel in hand to offer Jesus to victims. 2) Along these lines, the book is literally littered with Scripture. They have a very interesting footnoting/endnoting system where all passages of Scripture quoted or referenced are footnoted on every page, while works and authors are endnoted in the back. As I did a scan through the book, they hardly have a page or two without scripture quoted or referenced helpfully at the bottom. This means that those who come to this book for help will be immediately directed to God's Book, where they will find his grace for healing and hope.

The rest of the book - you know, that part at the beginning that I circled around and read out of order - is equally as helpful as the ending. In part one, they simply open up the issues involved in understanding what sexual assault is (chapter 1) and what its effects are (chapter 2). They define sexual assault, parse the words in what they mean, and help you understand how it applies to victims.

In part two they work through case studies. Each of these stories are heartbreaking simply by their reality. They open each section of "Grace Applied" with a person's story of being the victim of sexual assault, and then discuss the particular effect that sin had upon that person and how Jesus Christ is not only acquainted with that sin, but is the answer to its need of healing. They work through denial, distorted self-image, shame, guilt, anger, and despair. All conditions we are all aware of, but each subject in the hands of the Holcombs is skillfully met with grace.

I have been deeply struck by how well the Holcombs have sought to understand the victims of sexual assault. They do not trivialize their suffering. They do not push it aside. But they also do not let it loom so large that its unanswerable or left uncared for. Through the course of the book, you see the eyes of Christ weeping for sin, and the hand of Christ offering healing for the needy.

I heartily recommend this book to all Christians in our day. I give the only slight caution of recommending it to younger readers (15-18 y/o) simply due to the content of the testimonials in part two. Parents will want to read through those sections first and judge their own children's maturity (or walk through the chapters with them). Otherwise, this book will be an invaluable resource for the church in helping them understand how the Gospel engages this pervasive sin in our day.

To Justin and Lindsey, thank you so much for writing this book. I know it is going to be massively helpful to the people of Christ. What I most deeply appreciated about how you addressed the issue in the book is that you don't shy away from the heart breaking horror of the suffering and evil of sexual assault, but you also don't shy away from Jesus Christ and his Gospel. I saw a firm setting on the Gospel throughout the book that helped my soul grow tender like Christs for the people who are victims of sexual assault. Thank you for this.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Showing the Hope that Comes from Applying the Gospel to a Horrendous Crime March 15 2011
By Aaron Armstrong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One in four. That's the average of how many women in America have experienced some form of sexual assault.

One in six. That's the average number of men have been sexually assaulted.

These are underestimates.

Sexual assault is a crime surrounded by misconceptions and confusion. Definitions are either too specific to sufficiently identify instances of assault or too vague to even be helpful. It's a crime that robs victims of their dignity and their identity. And often, in our attempts to be helpful, we find ourselves at a loss; we don't really know what to say or how to help victims of assault and abuse.

How can the stain of disgrace be removed?

Authors Justin and Lindsey Holcomb provide a compelling, thoughtful and hopeful answer in Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault, as they apply the gospel to this horrendous crime.

Dividing the book into three sections, "Disgrace," "Grace Applied," and "Grace Accomplished," the authors handle the subject matter with great care. It's evident that they're not working from a theoretical perspective, but that this is hands-on, practical knowledge. In part one, they begin by providing a proper definition of sexual assault. They define it as follows:

Sexual assault is any type of sexual behavior or contact where consent is not freely given or obtained and is accomplished through force, intimidation, violence, coercion, manipulation, threat, deception, or abuse of authority. (p. 28)
"This definition," they explain, "gets beyond our society's narrow understanding of the issue and expands the spectrum of actions to be considered sexual assault." (ibid) In fleshing out this definition, they also go to great pains to clear up a number of misconceptions:

* Sexual assault can be physical, verbal, or psychological
* Prior consent does not mean unlimited consent
* The perpetrators of sexual assault are more often than not educated, middle class, white men who know their victims
* While underreporting is a serious problem, false reporting is actually quite rare

Practically, this means that the myth of the mystery deviant jumping out of the bushes is just that: A myth. While things like this can happen, it's more likely that a victim will be abused by a friend, family member, coworker or other acquaintance.

They also look to the effects of sexual assault. What was surprising to me was how varied the harmful emotional, psychological and physiological effects that can be. Some are: anxiety, OCD, panic attacks, eating disorders, gastrointestinal disturbance, hyper-arousal, various phobias, insomnia and other sleep disturbances, jumpiness... on and on the list goes (p. 39).

Further, the authors stress that it's important to understand that acknowledgement does not equate or ensure automatic healing. Naming the sin committed is only the first step in healing.

In part two, "Grace Applied," the Holcombs examine the implications of the gospel on the effects of sexual assault:

Denial. The myth says that time heals all wounds, but "in order to heal, you need God's compassion and redemptive work applied to your suffering." (p. 54) God hears, sees and knows a victims pain and He does not stand idly by while it happens; suffering draws Him near. Grief and mourning should lead to hope in God's healing and restoration. And because Jesus is acquainted with sorrow, there is confidence for the victim that he or she can receive grace and mercy (cf. Heb. 4:14-16).

Distorted Self-Image. Because many victims "perceive themselves as being vile, defiled, filthy and dirty, as opposed to them having had a vile, defiled, and dirty act done to them" (p. 72), the issue is less about self-esteem as it is self-identity. This is why self-help, according to the research, actually results in self-harm. When self-help statements fail, victims often feel worse than they did before.Instead, "you need to know God's statements and images about who you are, not self-produced positive statements or the lies being told to you by your experience of disgrace." (p. 73) Victims need to know that they are not what their experience calls them, nor what their abuser says they are, but they belong to Christ. (cf. p. 84)

Shame. Shame robs victims of being fully known by anyone--but God rescues victims from their shame; He takes it away in the death of Christ. "He took on your shame, so it no longer defines you nor has power over you. . . . It is Jesus' death on the cross that forgives our sins and cleanses the stains on our soul. . . . Because of the cross, we can be fully exposed, because God no longer identifies us by what we have done or by what has been done to us. If we trust in Jesus, God sees us as Jesus was: pure, righteous, and without blemish. . . . In Jesus, you are made completely new." (pp. 102-103)

Guilt. "Feelings of guilt and blame are often linked to the myths and misconceptions about sexual assault that prevail within our society," the authors write (p. 110). Our society tries to play stupid games, saying that a woman was asking for it or if they dress provocatively, they somehow "deserve it." Recently a police officer in Toronto made a statement to this effect to a group of lawyers, which just goes to show how ingrained this idea is. But the reality is, it is never the victim's fault under any circumstance. To say otherwise is simply wicked. This is also why the gospel is such good news. "Because [Christ] accomplished your redemption, guilt and sin have no right to condemn you." (p. 118)

Anger. This is perhaps one of the most difficult chapters as it deals with forgiveness. Although anger can be a natural and healthy response, it is often expressed poorly or turned inward by victims of assault. God is angry at sin and His holy, righteous anger will be satisfied, whether by the cross of Christ or on the final Day of Judgment. And this is the hope of all who have been oppressed and abused. God will have vengeance and we can have confidence in that.

At the same time, our anger can lead to bitterness and an unforgiving spirit. It leads us to seek to take vengeance for ourselves, which only makes things worse. And this is why we need to understand biblical forgiveness. As the authors write, "It is a miracle for a sinner to forgive another sinner. But this miracle is based on the prior miracle of God by freely offering his Son to bear the wrath deserved by the guilty." (p. 133) No one is excused from the list of the guilty, not even victims. We all sin, we've all fallen short of the glory of God. But the more we press into the reality of our own sinfulness, "the more [we] will understand with joy the mercy of God to [us]." (p. 134)

This understanding leads us to be willing to extend forgiveness even to our enemies. "Forgiveness is costly for the victim, but it is not a naïve, foolish, simplistic, look-the-other-way pretense that all is well and parties should return to relating as they did before the assault." (p. 137) We must be careful in not rushing prematurely to forgive in a simplistic fashion, which can lead to revictimization. We must not forget that our forgiveness does not mean that God has forgiven them. And ultimately, we look to the coming wrath of God to make all things right.

Despair. It can seem like God is absent in the midst of abuse, and this can lead to despair, which is the enemy of hope. But God is not absent and He is using all for His glory. No matter how deep the despair, this knowledge can bring real, lasting hope, because it rests in the person of Jesus and in the resurrection. "This side of glory, we will not be fully redeedmed and satisfied, but sorrow opens the heart to the desire for the hope of redemption to be fully realized." (p. 155)

These chapters are packed with practical wisdom and offer great confidence to those who have suffered assault. The answer is not to fix themselves; it's not to get over it and move on, or forgive and forget. And it's not to allow bitterness to destroy you or despair to ruin you. Instead, the cross of Christ offers freedom from disgrace when His grace is applied.

Interspersed throughout these chapters are testimonies of victims of sexual assault and how Christ has restored hope to them. These were equally the most heartbreaking and uplifting portions of the entire book:

Allen, who was molested by his grandfather as a boy;

Crystal, a young woman who was molested by her father only to later experience date rape;

Barbara, who was repeatedly raped by her own husband and feared that he would the same to their daughter when she reached puberty;

Brian, who was exposed to pornography and molested by his baseball coach;

Mandy, who attempted to take control over her sexuality by toying with men, only to find herself gang raped in the VIP room of a night club;

Nicole who was deceived and molested by a 30-something woman from her church.

These are painful stories to read. It's painful to even share these brief snippets I'm not an emotional guy by nature, and I'm fighting back tears just thinking about the horrors these men and women experienced. It' heartbreakingly evil.

But even in the midst of the horror, there was hope for each. Allen, Crystal, Barbara, Brian, Mandy, Nicole and so many others whose stories haven't been shared--in the end, they discovered that even in these moments, God was with them. God removes the stain of the sins committed against them. He gives them a new identity in Christ. He restores hope and offers forgiveness.

In part three, "Grace Accomplished," the Holcombs remind us of the root of sexual assault: It is a sin against the victim and a sin against God. "Sexual assault is always a sin against the victim and God because all crimes are depicted as sins, that is, violations of God's will and the reflection of his glory in others." (p. 171) The Bible never excuses sin. God never ignores it. Instead, He uses every evil act for His redemptive purposes. Through the shadowy images of Christ in the Old Testament through His glorious revelation in the New, God is at work, offering grace to all who trust in Jesus. "The cross is God's attack on sin and violence; it is salvation from sin and its effects. . . the deathblow delivered to the misery of our suffering." (p. 191) Through Christ, God replaces disgrace with grace. He ends the story of violence and ushers in peace. And in that we have much to hope for.

Rid of My Disgrace is a hard book to read. It's one that will make you weep, either when you're reading it... or if you're like me, days and weeks after when you look at it again. It vividly portrays the evil of sexual assault and the tragedy of its effects on its victims. But thankfully, the authors are equally vivid in detailing the hope that the gospel offers those who suffer. Pastors need to read this book. Small group leaders need to read this book. Husbands need to read this book. And we need to pray that it will help us offer hope to the victims of sexual assault to whom we minister or with whom we live.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The power of grace over disgrace Feb. 19 2012
By B. Cravens - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There are some subjects people tend to skirt around in conversation and relationships. Subjects so uncomfortable, their mention only brings up a wrecked past, a rough childhood, or a particularly disconcerting uncertainty for those unfamiliar with it. One such subject is sexual assault, and sadly, it is not spoken out about enough by pastors and families.

Justin and Lindsey Holcomb have written this book to 'come out' on sexual assault, unveiling the myths as well as the tragic truths behind it. After getting through the first two chapters, it's plain to see how heavy of a burden sexual assault is. However, the Holcombs overcome this age-old problem in an extremely Biblical manner, and end up amplifying the Gospel's goodness and power over every evil thing, namely sexual assault.

The book starts out with its foundation in the Word, opening with Tamar's story of rape in 2 Samuel 13. The title directly comes Tamar's outcry in the passage -- "Where can I get rid of my disgrace?" -- just before her brother, Amnon, rapes her. As the authors indicate, her cry encompasses the dirtiness often felt by victims of sexual assault.

The first two chapters alone open up the depth of the book, explaining what sexual assault is in all connotations of the phrase and all the latest stats on sexual assault, victims, and perpetrators. Did you know that one in four women and one in six men will be sexually-assaulted in their lifetime? How about about that every two minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted? Did you know that one study reported up to a third of girls and a fifth of boys have experienced incest? These three stats are found in chapter two, and there are many more. It is simply staggering. Great care is also taken in this chapter to show how 'self-help' books and positive thinking actually do much more harm than good; stats are even provided to back that up!

The bulk of content is spent with each chapter outlining a specific emotional reaction to being sexually assaulted, like shame, distorted self-image, anger, etc. The authors outline exactly how a victim may react with each given emotion (emphasizing how normal it is), how destructive it ends up being, and how the Gospel rescues from it, promising much better. Just before each chapter, there is a personal story told by someone who was abused sexually and reacted as shown in the given section. This serves to make each chapter more real and credible.

As the end draws closer, the last three chapters detail how sin gave birth to the sexual wrongs and outline all instances of God's grace throughout the Old and New testaments. Since the book 1. is all about God's grace, and 2. always returns back to a Scriptural base, providing these last parts really helps solidify the assurance of God's loving character written about in in Rid of my Disgrace.

When you put all the stats and anecdotes and pain together as you turn each page, it becomes clear the content is overwhelming. If a victim came to you seeking advice here, what would you say? If you're a victim afraid to speak out, where would you start? Perhaps this is why so many pastors and leaders (wrongly) avoid this topic.

But where words fail, Christ does not. That's the point Justin and Lindsey constantly reiterate, and it's much needed. This topic is too much for man. Fortunately, readers are reminded from beginning to end here that Christians are God's kids, whether abused or not, and that no amount of sin or disgrace could overpower God's saving love.

There are two primary audiences prime for reading this: victims and leaders in ministry. As the book thoroughly goes through its content with a tone of restoration, it's plain to see that Justin and Lindsey want to reach out to everyone who has been sexually offended. And make no mistake, this is a book of healing. While there are plenty of books on how to correctly counsel in this difficult area, few (if any) speak so directly and pastorally about the issue. Even if you've never been abused, you'll undoubtedly feel healing in some area as you hear God speak to you through the pages about guilt, despair, and the like.

The second audience, ministry leaders, would be at a huge handicap to skip over this one. There's a big handful of footnotes (which I absolutely gobble up), making the Holcomb's masterpiece an excellent resource for extended research and reading. Also, I personally have never gone through sexual abuse, so most of the intense content here was completely unfamiliar to me. If anyone had come to me with this sort of victimization seeking godly advice before, I'd be completely unprepared. Now, I feel like I have a great place to start.

Popular Highlights

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Our definition of sexual assault is any type of sexual behavior or contact where consent is not freely given or obtained and is accomplished through force, intimidation, violence, coercion, manipulation, threat, deception, or abuse of authority. &quote;
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Grace is love that seeks you out even if you have nothing to give in return. Grace is being loved when you are or feel unlovable. Grace has the power to turn despair into hope. Grace listens, lifts up, cures, transforms, and heals. &quote;
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What victims need are not self-produced positive statements but Gods statements about his response to their pain. &quote;
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