Book Recommendations

Here you can find book recommendations on abusive relationships, sexual violence, college sexual assault, human trafficking, facing trauma, healing and moving forward, and journals.

Some individuals may find any of these books to be triggering. If you feel the need to call a hotline, we encourage you to do so. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233. The National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-656-4673 (or you can chat with them online here). The National Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached 24/7 at 1-888-373-7888 (you can chat with them online here; or text HELP to 233733). The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 (or you can chat with them online here).

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Abusive Relationships

Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence: A Workbook by Mari McCaig MSW and Edward S. Kubany PhD ABPP

Based on a clinically proven set of techniques called cognitive trauma therapy (CTT), the exercises in this workbook will help you address feelings of guilt, anger, depression, anxiety, and stress. You’ll learn how to break down the negative thoughts that might be cycling in your mind and how to replace them with positive, constructive affirmations. Later in the program, you’ll be guided through controlled exposure to abuse reminders, which will enable you to face the fears you might otherwise spend a lifetime avoiding. The program begins and ends with techniques for becoming your own best advocate—an informed, confident person with all the strength you need to create the secure, fulfilling life you deserve.

It’s My Life Now: Starting Over After an Abusive Relationship or Domestic Violence by Meg Kennedy Dugan and Roger R Hock

It’s My Life Now offers readers the practical guidance, emotional reassurance, and psychological awareness that survivors of relationship abuse and domestic violence need to heal and reclaim their lives after leaving their abusers.

Chain, Chain, Change: For Black Women in Abusive Relationships by Evelyn C. White

Offering practical information for African-American women in physically or emotionally abusive relationships, the editor of The Black Women’s Health Book discusses identifying abuse, the cycle of violence, agencies and shelters, and using the legal system.

Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival by Kelly Sundberg

In this brave and beautiful memoir, a woman chronicles how her marriage devolved from a love story into a shocking tale of abuse—examining the tenderness and violence entwined in the relationship, why she endured years of physical and emotional pain, and how she eventually broke free. Mesmerizing and poetic, Goodbye, Sweet Girl is a harrowing, cautionary, and ultimately redemptive tale that brilliantly illuminates one woman’s transformation as she gradually rejects the painful reality of her violent life at the hands of the man who is supposed to cherish her, begins to accept responsibility for herself, and learns to believe that she deserves better.

Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence by Alex Roslin

“Police Wife” gives a rare front-seat look at the amazing struggles and courage of abused police spouses worldwide—from Los Angeles to Montreal, Puerto Rico and South Africa—the ordeals of a handful of intrepid cops trying to change policing from within and why the abuse is an epidemic, one that may be getting worse. “Police Wife”, the first investigative book on the epidemic, shows how abuse in police families affects us all and is closely linked to botched responses to 911 domestic calls at other homes, police killings of African Americans, police sexual harassment of female cops and young female drivers at traffic stops, and growing inequality in our communities.

Battle Cries: Black Women and Intimate Partner Abuse by Hillary Potter

Battle Cries is an eye-opening examination of African American women’s experiences with intimate partner abuse, the methods used to contend with abusive mates, and the immediate and enduring consequences resulting from the maltreatment. Based on intensive interviews with 40 African American women abused by their male partners, Potter’s analysis takes into account variations in their experiences based on socioeconomic class, education level, and age, and discusses the common abuses and perceptions they share. Combining her remarkable findings with black feminist thought and critical race theory, Potter offers a unique and significant window through which we can better understand this understudied though rampant social problem.

But I Love Him: Protecting Your Teen Daughter from Controlling, Abusive Dating Relationships by Jill Murray

In But I Love Him, Dr. Murray identifies these controlling, abusive patterns of behavior and helps you get your daughter out of the relationship without alienating her. You will learn what draws her to this type of relationship, why she has a hard time talking to you about it, the special barriers teens face when breaking off a relationship, and what’s going on in the mind of a teen abuser. Dr. Murray will help you show your teen what a respectful relationship looks like and teach her the importance of respecting herself.

Crazy Love by Leslie Morgan Steiner

At 22, Leslie Morgan Steiner seemed to have it all: good looks, a Harvard diploma, a glamorous job in New York City. Plus a handsome, funny boyfriend who adored her. But behind her façade of success, this golden girl hid a dark secret. She’d made a mistake shared by millions: she fell in love with the wrong person. At first, Leslie and Conor seemed perfect together. Then came the fights she tried to ignore: he pushed her down the stairs, choked her during an argument, and threatened her with a gun. Several times, he came close to making good on his threat to kill her. With each attack, Leslie lost another piece of herself. Why didn’t she leave? She stayed because she loved him. Gripping and utterly compelling, Crazy Love takes you inside the violent, devastating world of abusive love and makes you feel the power and powerlessness of abuse that can take place anywhere and to anyone. Crazy Love draws you in — and never lets you go. View Leslie’s TedTalk here.

Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life (Interpersonal Violence) by Evan Stark

Coercive Control breaks through entrenched views of physical abuse that have ultimately failed to protect women. Evan Stark, founder of one of America’s first battered women’s shelters, shows how “domestic violence” is neither primarily domestic nor necessarily violent, but a pattern of controlling behaviors more akin to terrorism and hostage-taking. Stark details coercive strategies that men use to deny women their very personhood and urges us to move beyond the injury model and focus on the real victimization that allows men to violate women’s human rights with impunity. Coercive Control reframes abuse as a liberty crime rather than a crime of assault and points the way to bringing “real” equality for women in line with their formal rights to personhood and citizenship, freedom and safety.

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Sexual Violence

Jane Doe January: My Twenty-Year Search for Truth and Justice by Emily Winslow

Emily Winslow was a young drama student at Carnegie Mellon University’s elite conservatory in Pittsburgh when a man brutally attacked and raped her in January 1992. While the police search for her rapist proved futile, Emily reclaimed her life. Over the course of the next two decades, she fell in love, married, had two children, and began writing mystery novels set in her new hometown of Cambridge, England. Then, in fall 2013, she received shocking news – the police had found her rapist. This is her intimate memoir – the story of a woman’s traumatic past catching up with her, in a country far from home, surrounded by people who have no idea what she’s endured. Caught between past and present, and between two very different cultures, the inquisitive and restless crime novelist searches for clarity. Beginning her own investigation, she delves into Fryar’s family and past, reconnects with the detectives of her case, and works with prosecutors in the months leading to trial.

Naming the Violence: Speaking Out About Lesbian Battering by Lobel

Essays tell the stories of battered lesbians and discuss community organizing activities, support groups, and the possible causes of this form of domestic violence.

Woman-to-Woman Sexual Violence: Does She Call it Rape? by Lori B. Girshick

Lori B. Girshick exposes the shocking, hidden reality of woman-to-woman sexual violence and gives voice to the abused. Drawing on a nationwide survey and in-depth interviews, Girshick explores the experiences and reflections of seventy women, documenting what happened to them, how they responded, and whether they received any help to cope with the emotional impact of their assault. The author discusses how the lesbian community has silenced survivors of sexual violence due to myths of lesbian utopia, and considers what role societal homophobia, biphobia, and heterosexism has played in this silencing. Ranging from date and acquaintance rape, to domestic sexual abuse by partners, to sexual harassment in the workplace, these explicit and harrowing stories provide a fuller understanding of woman-to-woman sexual violence than exists anywhere else.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

“Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.

It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany

I want to rewind the clock, take back the night when the world shattered. I want to erase everything that went wrong. Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were teenagers—trusting and depending on each other through some of the darkest periods of their young lives. Returning home for the summer after her college graduation, Amber begins spending more time with Tyler than she has in years. Despite the fact that Amber is engaged to her college sweetheart, a flirtation begins to grow between them. One night, fueled by alcohol and concerns about whether she’s getting married too young, Amber kisses Tyler. What happens next will change them forever.

The Right to Innocence: Healing the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Beverly Engel

At a time when horror stories of childhood sexual abuse are revealed daily, there is still insufficient help for the abused. This problem is finally being dealt with in Beverly Engel’s excellent book, The Right to Innocence. This is a recovery guide, a seven-step program that enables victims to heal the damage such experiences inflict. “A practical and powerful must-read book for all who have suffered childhood sexual abuse, their family members and loved ones, and for all mental health professionals.”

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College Sexual Assault

Girl in the Woods: A Memoir by Aspen Matis

In this inspiring memoir, Aspen chronicles her journey, a five-month trek that was ambitious, dangerous, and transformative. A nineteen-year-old girl alone and lost, she conquered desolate mountain passes and met rattlesnakes, bears, and fellow desert pilgrims. Exhausted after each 30-mile day, at times on the verge of starvation, Aspen was forced to confront her numbness, coming to terms with the sexual assault she experienced on the second night of college and her parents’ disappointing response of discouraging her from telling of the attack. On the trail and on her own, she found that survival is predicated on persistent self-reliance. She found her strength. After a thousand miles of solitude, she found a man who helped her learn to love and trust again – and heal.

Lucky by Alice Sebold

In a memoir hailed for its searing candor, as well as its wit, Alice Sebold reveals how her life was transformed when, as an eighteen-year-old college freshman, she was brutally raped and beaten in a park near campus. What ultimately propels this chronicle of sexual assault and its aftermath is Sebold’s indomitable spirit, as she fights to secure her rapist’s arrest and conviction and comes to terms with a relationship to the world that has forever changed. With over a million copies in print, Lucky has touched the lives of a generation of readers. Sebold illuminates the experience of trauma victims and imparts a wisdom profoundly hard-won: “You save yourself or you remain unsaved.” Now reissued with a new afterword by the author, her story remains as urgent as it was when it was first published eighteen years ago.

Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America by Diane Roberts

Florida State’s football team is always in the headlines, producing Heisman Trophy candidates, winning championships, and, at the same time, dealing with federal investigations into corruption and rape. Same as many big time collegiate sports programs. Seems no matter how the team transgresses off the field, if they excel on the field, everyone forgives them. Writer, professor and conflicted Seminole Diane Roberts looks at the problems plaguing her campus in Tallahassee, examining them within the context of college football itself and its significance in American life, and explores how the game shapes our culture.

Scoreboard, Baby: A story of college football, crime, and complicity by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry

In Scoreboard, Baby, Armstrong and Perry go behind the scenes of the Huskies Cinderella story to reveal a timeless morality tale about the price of obsession, the creep of fanaticism, and the ways in which a community can lose even when its team wins. The authors unearth the true story from firsthand interviews and thousands of pages of documents: the forensic report on a bloody fingerprint; the notes of a detective investigating allegations of rape; confidential memoranda of prosecutors; and the criminal records of the dozen-plus players arrested that year with scant mention in the newspapers and minimal consequences in the courts. The statement of a judge, sentencing one player to thirty days in jail, says it all: “to be served after football season.”

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Human Trafficking

Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy by Barbara Ehrenreich

Confronting a range of topics from the fate of Vietnamese mail-order brides to the importation of Mexican nannies in Los Angeles, Global Woman offers an original look at a world increasingly shaped by mass migration and economic exchange. Collected and with an Introduction by bestselling social critics Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild, this groundbreaking anthology reveals a new era in which the main resource extracted from developing nations is no longer gold or silver, but love.

Illicit Flirtations: Labor, Migration, and Sex Trafficking in Tokyo by Rhacel Parreñas

Illicit Flirtations challenges our understandings of human trafficking and calls into question the U.S. policy to broadly label these women as sex trafficked. It highlights how in imposing top-down legal constraints to solve the perceived problems―including laws that push dependence on migrant brokers, guest worker policies that bind migrants to an employer, marriage laws that limit the integration of migrants, and measures that criminalize undocumented migrants―many women become more vulnerable to exploitation, not less. It is not the jobs themselves, but the regulation that makes migrants susceptible to trafficking. If we are to end the exploitation of people, we first need to understand the actual experiences of migrants, not rest on global policy statements. This book gives a long overdue look into the real world of those labeled as trafficked.

The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine by Somaly Mam

Born in a village deep in the Cambodian forest, Somaly Mam was sold into sexual slavery by her grandfather when she was twelve years old. Trapped in this dangerous and desperate world, she suffered the brutality and horrors of human trafficking—rape, torture, deprivation—until she managed to escape with the help of a French aid worker.  Written in exquisite, spare, unflinching prose, The Road of Lost Innocence recounts the experiences of her early life and tells the story of her awakening as an activist and her harrowing and brave fight against the powerful and corrupt forces that steal the lives of these girls. Her memoir will leave you awestruck by her tenacity and courage and will renew your faith in the power of an individual to bring about change.

Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System by Cyntoia Brown-Long

At the age of sixteen, Cyntoia Brown, a survivor of human trafficking, was arrested for killing a man who had picked her up for sex. Two years later, she was sentenced to life in prison. Brown reflects on the isolation, low self-esteem, and sense of alienation that drove her straight into the hands of a predator. In these pages, Cyntoia shares the details of her transformation, including a profound encounter with God, an unlikely romance, an unprecedented outpouring of support from social media advocates and A-list celebrities, and her release from prison. A coming-of-age memoir set against the shocking backdrop of a life behind bars, Free Cyntoia takes you on a spiritual journey as Cyntoia struggles to overcome a lifetime of feeling ostracized and abandoned by society.

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Facing Trauma

The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence by Gavin de Becker

In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker, the man Oprah Winfrey calls the nation’s leading expert on violent behavior, shows you how to spot even subtle signs of danger—before it’s too late. Shattering the myth that most violent acts are unpredictable, de Becker, whose clients include top Hollywood stars and government agencies, offers specific ways to protect yourself and those you love, including…how to act when approached by a stranger…when you should fear someone close to you…what to do if you are being stalked…how to uncover the source of anonymous threats or phone calls…the biggest mistake you can make with a threatening person…and more. Learn to spot the danger signals others miss. It might just save your life.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine and Ann Frederick

Waking the Tiger normalizes the symptoms of trauma and the steps needed to heal them. People are often traumatized by seemingly ordinary experiences. The reader is taken on a guided tour of the subtle, yet powerful, impulses that govern our responses to overwhelming life events. To do this, it employs a series of exercises that help us focus on bodily sensations. Through heightened awareness of these sensations, trauma can be healed.

8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery: Take-Charge Strategies to Empower Your Healing by Babette Rothschild

Trauma recovery is tricky; however, there are several key principles that can help make the process safe and effective. This book gives self help readers, therapy clients, and therapists alike the skills to understand and implement eight keys to successful trauma healing: mindful identification of what is helpful, recognizing survival, having the option to not remember, creating a supportive inner dialogue, forgiving not being able to stop the trauma, understanding and sharing shame, finding your own recovery pace; mobilizing your body, and helping others. After reading this book, readers will be able to recognize their own individual needs and evaluate whether those needs are being met. They will have the tools necessary to put themselves in the driver’s seat, navigating their own safe road to recovery.

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Healing and Moving Forward

Heal for Life by Liz Mullinar

Heal for Life will help you understand trauma, how it creates emotional triggers, how to ‘de-trigger’ and feel safe, and how to permanently overcome and heal childhood trauma. The Heal for Life Model has already empowered 8,500 survivors of childhood trauma or abuse find inner peace and hope for a brighter future.

Healing My Life from Incest to Joy by Donna Jenson

In chronicling the physical and spiritual steps she took to reclaim her life and peel away the layers of damage done by incest, Jenson has written a powerful narrative of one person’s healing journey. And though the subject matter is deeply serious, Jenson writes with her sense of humor firmly intact, reminding us that joy is possible in the face of great pain. Poignant, brave, and helpful, Healing My Life offers a much-needed testimony for anyone affected by or concerned about childhood sexual abuse. “Healing My Life is a story that is unique and personal in its detail, yet also universal and human in its impact. If we could raise even one generation without violence or shaming, we have no idea what might be possible.” -Gloria Steinem

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown

In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging.

Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

Walking into our stories of hurt can feel dangerous. But the process of regaining our footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested and our values are forged. Our stories of struggle can be big ones, like the loss of a job or the end of a relationship, or smaller ones, like a conflict with a friend or colleague. Regardless of magnitude or circumstance, the rising strong process is the same: We reckon with our emotions and get curious about what we’re feeling; we rumble with our stories until we get to a place of truth; and we live this process, every day, until it becomes a practice and creates nothing short of a revolution in our lives. Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness. It’s the process, Brown writes, that teaches us the most about who we are.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart—when we are continually overcome by fear, anxiety, and pain? The answer, Pema Chödrön suggests, might be just the opposite of what you expect. Here, in her most beloved and acclaimed work, Pema shows that moving toward painful situations and becoming intimate with them can open up our hearts in ways we never before imagined. Drawing from traditional Buddhist wisdom, she offers life-changing tools for transforming suffering and negative patterns into habitual ease and boundless joy.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

The book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. Milk and Honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

Secret Survivors: Real-Life Stories To Give You Hope For Healing by Jen Howver and Megan Hutchinson

Written for teens, but also incredibly helpful to anyone working with students, Secret Survivors tells the compelling, true stories of people who have lived through painful secrets. As teens read stories about rape, addiction, cutting, abuse, abortion, and more, they’ll identify with the universal pain in each story and find the strength to share their own story and start healing.

Love Warrior: A Memoir by Glennon Doyle Melton

A memoir of betrayal and self-discovery by bestselling author Glennon Doyle, Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are all born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life.

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Journals

The Mindfulness Journal: Daily Practices, Writing Prompts, and Reflections for Living in the Present Moment by Barrie Davenport and S.J. Scott

Mindfulness is about being aware and attentive to the present moment. It sounds easy, but it takes some practice to make mindfulness your go-to way of living. With “The Mindfulness Journal,” you will have simple activities to practice each day, and then you will write about your experiences with mindfulness, which reinforces your efforts. This journal provides a total of 365 daily writing prompts divided into 52 weekly mindfulness topics. This arrangement gives you seven days to immerse yourself in each topic. It is designed to awaken you to mindfulness in various natural moments throughout your day, as well as with some activities that may be new for you.

Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self Exploration by Meera Lee Patel

Start Where You Are is an interactive journal designed to help readers nurture their creativity, mindfulness, and self-motivation. It helps readers navigate the confusion and chaos of daily life with a simple reminder: that by taking the time to know ourselves and what those dreams are, we can appreciate the world around us and achieve our dreams. Meera Lee Patel’s uplifting book presents supportive prompts and exercises along with inspirational quotes to encourage reflection through writing, drawing, chart-making, and more.

Present, Not Perfect: A Journal for Slowing Down, Letting Go, and Loving Who You Are by Aimee Chase

Most women today are frantic, lost in an endless cycle of busyness caused by constant pressure to perform up to unrealistic expectations of perfection, many of which are self-imposed. This journal cuts to the heart of the problem by showing women how to reconnect with their inner selves through solitude, introspection, and contemplation of what’s truly important to them as individuals and family members. Give yourself permission to be Present, Not Perfect.

52 Lists for Happiness by Moorea Seal

52 Lists for Happiness is the follow-up journal to the best selling The 52 Lists Project. Drawing on Moorea’s happiness research and her own personal philosophy, her latest journal focuses on cultivating a happy and fulfilling life through the power of lists. Through weekly practice and simple list making tools, you will delve deeper into your own understanding of what happiness truly means to you as you explore how to live a happier life everyday.

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