The best books to read if you think you are being emotionally abused

Who am I?

I was in an emotionally abusive marriage for 20 years but didn’t realize what was happening to me. I tried to twist myself into a perfectly shaped pretzel to make my husband happy. It didn’t work. Reading some of these books gave me the courage to seek a restraining order and divorce my husband. Since then, I became a domestic violence advocate, author, blogger, and mental health counselor. 


I wrote...

A Journey Through Emotional Abuse: From Bondage to Freedom

By Caroline Abbott,

Book cover of A Journey Through Emotional Abuse: From Bondage to Freedom

What is my book about?

In my abusive marriage, it wasn’t until my husband became physically abusive that I started really looking at what was happening to me. I moved from wondering why he was angry all the time to realizing I was being abused. I wrote this book to help others through the hard road I had to travel: seeking help from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, lawyers, police, and my church.

I describe my journey with the court system, social services, getting a restraining order and seeking full custody of my kids. I help readers think through the hard questions: Should I leave? How could I do it safely? What will my friends/family/church say? What is best for my kids? Having someone who has been through it themselves walk alongside you is invaluable.

The books I picked & why

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Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

By Lundy Bancroft,

Book cover of Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

Why this book?

When I was in my abusive marriage, I spent days/weeks/years wondering WHY my husband acted the way he did. Was it my fault? Lundy Bancroft answers these questions better than any other. 1. Abusers like being in control. 2. They are convinced that it is OK to treat you badly. 3. Most of all, they get what they want by their abusive behavior. 

The clarity I gained from this book was amazing.


The Verbally Abusive Relationship, How to Recognize It and How to Respond

By Patricia Evans,

Book cover of The Verbally Abusive Relationship, How to Recognize It and How to Respond

Why this book?

When I was in my emotionally abusive marriage, I didn’t fully realize I was being abused. I finally called the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and they recommended this book. It does an excellent job of explaining what verbal/ emotional abuse is, and how to recognize it. Reading this book set me on the path to finally getting the help I needed and getting free from my abuser.


Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

By Henry Cloud, John Townsend,

Book cover of Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

Why this book?

Many of us are taught that to say “no” to someone is unkind and un-Christian. When we can’t say no to others, we are in danger of being taken advantage of -  even being abused. This book explains the reason why we need good boundaries, how to enforce them, and how to become responsible for our own lives and happiness.


Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

By Karyl McBride,

Book cover of Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

Why this book?

Many people who are abused by their intimate partners learned to accept this behavior in their childhood. This book describes how a narcissistic parent twists the minds of their children to make the narcissist feel better. It helps de-mystify the sometimes non-sensical actions of the parent, helps the adult child set appropriate boundaries and find healing.


A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church

By Jeff Crippen, Anna Wood,

Book cover of A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church

Why this book?

When I was in the process of leaving my abusive husband, I sought help from my church. Sadly, my pastors had no idea what they were dealing with. Instead of helping me, they sided with my abuser. This book, written by a pastor, helps churches understand the evil that abusers perpetrate, and how they can and should help the abused partner.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in psychological abuse, domestic violence, and life satisfaction?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about psychological abuse, domestic violence, and life satisfaction.

Psychological Abuse Explore 12 books about psychological abuse
Domestic Violence Explore 19 books about domestic violence
Life Satisfaction Explore 120 books about life satisfaction

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Battlefield of the Mind, The Truth about Children and Divorce, and The Way to Love if you like this list.