Know My Name by Chanel Miller (2019, Viking). This beautifully written book is a recounting of Chanel Miller’s experiences in the aftermath of the widely publicized sexual assault perpetrated on her by Brock Turner on the campus of Stanford University. Miller’s thoughts, observations, and emotional reactions reveal stark truths about the ways we treat sexual assault survivors in America.
The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse 20th Anniversary Edition by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis (2008 revised edition, Harper Collins). A sensitively-written, comprehensive and definitive guide to healing from child sexual abuse from experts, interspersed throughout with first-person accounts from survivors. Contains a helpful in-depth chapter on navigating family relationships after abuse.
Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward and Craig Buck (2002, Bantam Books). Explores unhealthy relationship patterns and ways to break free from their destructive forces in adulthood, using case studies.
The Sexual Healing Journey by Wendy Maltz (3rd edition, 2012 William Morrow Paperbacks). Written by a psychotherapist and sex therapist, this book is a resource to help survivors heal from sexual problems; offering techniques and exercises, and using case studies to demonstrate that healthy sex is possible after abuse.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D. (2015, Penguin Books). After 30 years working with combat veterans and other trauma survivors, Dr. van der Kolk explains exactly how traumatic stress affects the body and the brain. Through his research scanning trauma survivors’ brains and studying the effectiveness of various treatments, he shows us how innovative modalities (yoga, neurofeedback, massage, e.g.) can repair the damage that trauma causes and help victims repair their lives.
Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson (2019, Viking Books for Young Readers). Shout is a memoir in poetry form that conveys the author’s response to the #MeToo movement, the culture around abuse and assault, and twenty years of hearing from fellow survivors since the release of her acclaimed novel, Speak. She shares personal stories of her own for the first time.
Asking For It by Kate Harding (2015, De Capo Lifelong Books). Calling attention to the cultural response to sexual violence, Asking For It shows how society is complicit in its prevalence and deficient in its response to victims by giving more support to perpetrators than to their victims. This is also a central problem within the families of victims.
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (2018, Random House). Westover’s story is a poignant demonstration of the tortured decision many abuse survivors must make between their family’s support and their own emotional wellbeing. She details her sheltered and highly religious upbringing in the mountains of Utah, which included severe physical and emotional abuse by her brother. After leaving home and breaking out of her denial, Westover revealed the abuse to her family and stood up to her brother. Her parents and siblings decided she was possessed by the devil and ostracized her from the family.