100 books like Beginning to Heal

By Ellen Bass, Laura Davis,

Here are 100 books that Beginning to Heal fans have personally recommended if you like Beginning to Heal. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

Donna Jenson Author Of Healing My Life: from Incest to Joy

From my list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. Since 1998, I have encouraged them to find their voice and use it through my organization, Time To Tell. Being isolated is foundational to our experience, and our culture perpetuates the isolation by often refusing to address it, acknowledge it, or expose it, as well as not listening tonor believing–survivors. This forces us to remain silent. I am certain that telling is healing. I lead writing circles for survivors to experience community and get support and encouragement. I recommend all these books not only for the wisdom offered but also the direct experience of not being alone in the reading.

Donna's book list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse

Donna Jenson Why did Donna love this book?

This was by far the most essential book in supporting my healing. Reading it at age 45, eight years into my recovery, so many times Herman described the exact thing I was either going through or had to go through to recover.

Explaining that being abused in a family was like being a prisoner of war blew my mind. Like a POW, seven-year-old me couldn’t escape. She helped explain so much of my trauma, my reactions, and my struggle and gave me a mountain of hope to climb!

By Judith Lewis Herman,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Trauma and Recovery as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Trauma and Recovery was first published in 1992, it was hailed as a ground-breaking work. In the intervening years, Herman's volume has changed the way we think about and treat traumatic events and trauma victims. In a new afterword, Herman chronicles the incredible response the book has elicited and explains how the issues surrounding the topic have shifted within the clinical community and the culture at large. Trauma and Recovery brings a new level of understanding to a set of problems usually considered individually. Herman draws on her own cutting-edge research in domestic violence as well as on the…


Book cover of Wild Hope: Healing Words to Find Light on Dark Days

Donna Jenson Author Of Healing My Life: from Incest to Joy

From my list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. Since 1998, I have encouraged them to find their voice and use it through my organization, Time To Tell. Being isolated is foundational to our experience, and our culture perpetuates the isolation by often refusing to address it, acknowledge it, or expose it, as well as not listening tonor believing–survivors. This forces us to remain silent. I am certain that telling is healing. I lead writing circles for survivors to experience community and get support and encouragement. I recommend all these books not only for the wisdom offered but also the direct experience of not being alone in the reading.

Donna's book list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse

Donna Jenson Why did Donna love this book?

Doing the work to heal from the trauma of sexual abuse is arduous and definitely not linear. We go in and out, up and down, finding and retracing our feelings, remembering’s, beliefs, and judgment.

This book is a fantastic antidote to the poison we’re purging. More than half the page's top corners are turned down, so I can quickly go anywhere in Ashworth’s uplifting offerings and get a dose of light and even laughter, like her poem titled, Rest Here Awhile. Just reading that phrase helps me take a deep breath.  

By Donna Ashworth,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Wild Hope as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Find Hope and Solace in Inspirational Poetry from Scotland’s Poet Sensation and Sunday Times Bestselling Author

“Beautiful and uplifting” —Davina McCall
“So inspiring, so heartfelt ... the way Donna writes is beyond beautiful.” —Lisa Snowdon

#1 Best Seller in Love Poetry, Poetry by Women, and Emotional Self Help

Wild Hope is Donna Ashworth’s powerful new collection of wisdom to help us find comfort, hope, peace, self-acceptance, and inspiration when we feel worn down, helpless, or sad.

Find solace in Ashworth's eloquent verse. Through contemporary poetry, Donna explores the human condition. This inspiring poetry collection brings comfort and guidance, offering a…


Book cover of Soaring Above the Ashes: Thriving Beyond Childhood Sexual Abuse

Donna Jenson Author Of Healing My Life: from Incest to Joy

From my list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. Since 1998, I have encouraged them to find their voice and use it through my organization, Time To Tell. Being isolated is foundational to our experience, and our culture perpetuates the isolation by often refusing to address it, acknowledge it, or expose it, as well as not listening tonor believing–survivors. This forces us to remain silent. I am certain that telling is healing. I lead writing circles for survivors to experience community and get support and encouragement. I recommend all these books not only for the wisdom offered but also the direct experience of not being alone in the reading.

Donna's book list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse

Donna Jenson Why did Donna love this book?

I love this book because every chapter is about a survivor, with a large black and white photo of them. Seeing real faces put to their stories was so helpful and encouraging, showing me I am not alone.

In between the survivor stories, the author reveals both her own survivor story AND her wisdom as a therapist working with survivors. Thank you to Dr. Samuelson for all the survival strategies she affirmed and understood. I don't know a lot of therapists who have disclosed they're survivors–this one does, and with great clarity.

By Emily Samuelson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Soaring Above the Ashes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is Possible to Heal from Sexual Abuse

A diverse group of extraordinary survivors of sexual abuse tell their stories in their own voices. In Soaring Above the Ashes they give their names, share their stories, and show their faces in arresting black and white portraits, defying the perpetrators who can no longer shame or threaten them into silence.

These men and women are proud of who they have become. They describe the journey from helplessness to empowerment, from isolation to connection, from grief to joy. Together they create a virtual support group that you are invited to join. Moreover,…


Book cover of Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives

Donna Jenson Author Of Healing My Life: from Incest to Joy

From my list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. Since 1998, I have encouraged them to find their voice and use it through my organization, Time To Tell. Being isolated is foundational to our experience, and our culture perpetuates the isolation by often refusing to address it, acknowledge it, or expose it, as well as not listening tonor believing–survivors. This forces us to remain silent. I am certain that telling is healing. I lead writing circles for survivors to experience community and get support and encouragement. I recommend all these books not only for the wisdom offered but also the direct experience of not being alone in the reading.

Donna's book list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse

Donna Jenson Why did Donna love this book?

Writing, journaling, writing my memoir and play, and writing morning pages (handwriting three pages as soon as I wake up) have all contributed greatly to my healing.

DeSalvo's book has helped me again and again when I get stuck and need a boost to get back to writing. Most pages have highlights I've made in blue marker that jump out at me, reminding me to write, such as "recover the person or self we lost." Amen! 

By Louise Desalvo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Writing as a Way of Healing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this inspiring book, based on her twenty years of research, highly acclaimed author and teacher Louise DeSalvo reveals the healing power of writing. DeSalvo shows how anyone can use writing as a way to heal the emotional and physical wounds that are an inevitable part of life. Contrary to what most self-help books claim, just writing won't help you; in fact, there's abundant evidence that the wrong kind of writing can be damaging.

DeSalvo's program is based on the best available and most recent scientific studies about the efficacy of using writing as a restorative tool. With insight and…


Book cover of The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Helen Epstein Author Of The Long Half-Lives of Love and Trauma

From my list on healing from sexual trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a veteran author, journalist, and journalism professor who has taught over 1000 students. At the age of 50, through a memoir I began writing, I fell down a rabbit hole of memory and began to suspect I had been sexually abused as a child. The man was a close family friend, who liked to call himself my grandfather. He did not speak English. My parents were immigrants and the usual difficulties of retrieving memories from childhood were complicated by the fact that they were all in the Czech language. For years I read everything I could find about childhood sexual abuse and then everything I could read about psychoanalysis.

Helen's book list on healing from sexual trauma

Helen Epstein Why did Helen love this book?

The Courage to Heal was another of the first books I turned to when I began reading about childhood sexual abuse.

I felt confused back then and ambivalent about believing that I had been abused that I didn’t borrow the book from a library or buy it. Instead I went to the local bookstore and read it crouched in an aisle. It’s a great survey of the world of people who were sexually abused as children, with many case studies, background research, and resources for community support. 

By Ellen Bass, Laura Davis,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Courage to Heal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Come to terms with your past while moving powerfully into the future

The Courage to Heal is an inspiring, comprehensive guide that offers hope and a map of the healing journey to every woman who was sexually abused as a child—and to those who care about her. Although the effects of child sexual abuse are long-term and severe, healing is possible.

Weaving together personal experience with professional knowledge, the authors provide clear explanations, practical suggestions, and support throughout the healing process. Readers will feel recognized and encouraged by hundreds of moving first-person stories drawn from interviews and the authors' extensive…


Book cover of Invisible Girl

S.M. Stevens Author Of Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

From my list on uplifting stories of sexual abuse and harassment.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a big fan of fiction that fills a need. While recovering from a broken pelvis, I wrote a book for my animal/adventure-loving fifth-grader. A year later, while in treatment for ovarian cancer, I wrote a series for my other daughter and teens/tweens who love musical theater but can’t find books set in that world. When the Harvey Weinstein nightmare erupted, I was horrified at the parallels in how naysayers treat victims of both incest and workplace harassment. I decided the world needed a novel exploring that, and taking readers into the minds of survivors. (Thankfully, I wasn’t recovering from an injury or disease while writing that one!)

S.M.'s book list on uplifting stories of sexual abuse and harassment

S.M. Stevens Why did S.M. love this book?

The younger the victim, the more egregious the act seems. This true story is a riveting read. Dixon repressed childhood incest memories until, ironically, she became a nurse helping others with similar pasts. The book is an insightful look at how hidden pain manifests itself in our current lives regardless of what walls the mind has erected to protect us. Woven into the memoir is helpful advice for survivors, counselors, lawyers, and others working with abuse victims. I was mesmerized.

By Sandra J. Dixon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Invisible Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This story breaks new frontiers in what we know about repressed memories. It is a riveting account of horrific and humorous events of living in the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse. It is based on the author's personal experience and that of hundreds of patients she treated as a mental health professional. She weaves prevention recommendations into the book to help prevent child abuse.


Book cover of The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse

Margarette Allyn Author Of Running from Yesterday: A True Story of Hope, Courage and Love

From my list on making it fun to be a better person.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the most important lessons I learned from my grandma is that children have no fear or self-doubt unless they are taught to have these feelings, and then it's a choice to continue to believe in self-doubt. However, I was paralyzed by it after her death. I stopped being a carefree kid and started living through emotional survival. I lived a life of physical, mental, and emotional turmoil, and by a miracle, I was spared and given a chance to change it all. I am a dancer, writer, performer, and speaker, following every dream I've had. 

Margarette's book list on making it fun to be a better person

Margarette Allyn Why did Margarette love this book?

I had not witnessed a healthy grownup relationship when I was younger. My introduction to intimacy was horrid at best, not to mention the lack of role models available to me for feminine sexual guidance. 

I spent years looking for love from other people and by means of sexual behavior that left me feeling ashamed. I lived my life based on many harmful beliefs that were self-destructive; I didn't feel I deserved to have a fully healthy relationship. 

My therapist suggested this book, and it took me on a journey of returning to where and how I learned my habitual behavior, removing the adverse judgment and allowing me to start again, especially with my current husband. Our marriage is in a lovely place, partly due to this book. 

By Wendy Maltz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sexual Healing Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Considered a classic in its field, this comprehensive guide will help survivors of sexual abuse improve their relationships and discover the joys of sexual intimacy. Wendy Maltz takes survivors step-by-step through the recovery process using groundbreaking exercises and techniques. Based on the author's clinical work, interviews, survey results, and workshops, this book is filled with first-person accounts of women and men at every stage of sexual healing. This compassionate resource helps survivors to: identify the sexual effects of sexual abuse; create a positive meaning for sex and develop a healthy sexual self-concept; gain control over upsetting automatic reactions to touch…


Book cover of When You Know What I Know

Cathleen Barnhart Author Of That's What Friends Do

From my list on #MeToo for middle grade readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

In That’s What Friends Do, the #MeToo experience that Sammie’s mom shares with Sammie is my story. I was thirteen. I never told anyone. Even as I started writing my novel, it didn’t occur to me to share with my husband, or my teenage children, my experience. But one evening, as the #MeToo movement was exploding in the media, I was sitting around a dinner table with several other couples. All of the women had had a #MeToo experience. Most of us were young teens when it happened. Shame and guilt had kept us silent for far too long. My novel – and the others on my list – are working to break through that silence.

Cathleen's book list on #MeToo for middle grade readers

Cathleen Barnhart Why did Cathleen love this book?

This lyrical novel-in-verse tells the story of fifth-grader, Tori, whose uncle does something bad to her on the couch in the basement of her house. The story begins immediately after the incident, which is described very obliquely, and beautifully captures Tori’s shock, shame, anger, and profound sense of brokenness. Adults who should listen to her and help her don’t always come through, and Tori’s shame also causes her to pull away from her closest friends. But slowly, with the help of her mom, her little sister, and her teacher, Tori begins to speak up. I thought Sonja Solter beautifully captured Tori’s grief, her retreat to silence and smallness, and her gradual, incremental healing process. I especially loved Tori’s relationship with her little sister and how it evolves.

By Sonja K. Solter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When You Know What I Know as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

When you know what I know, you'll wish you didn't.

It's not the kind of thing you can talk about at school, or at the park, or anywhere, with a new friend or an old one, or even with your sister. (She's too little.)

But it's everywhere once you know, once you can't not know. In your face, under your eyelids. If you turn your back on it, there it is anyway.

One day after school, in the basement on the couch, Tori's uncle did something bad. Afterwards, Tori did the right thing, and told her mom. But even if…


Book cover of Edinburgh

Alina Grabowski Author Of Women and Children First

From my list on exploring how place shapes community.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Austin, Texas. Though I haven’t lived in Massachusetts for over a decade now, I find myself drawn back to the state’s coast in my fiction. My novel, Women and Children First, takes place in a fictional town south of Boston called Nashquitten. I’m obsessed with how where we’re from shapes who we become and the ways we use narrative to try and exert control over our lives. 

Alina's book list on exploring how place shapes community

Alina Grabowski Why did Alina love this book?

This is a book about many things—guilt, artmaking, and love among them—but when I think of it, I think of a novel that depicts the complexities of making and sustaining a life more deftly than anything else I’ve read. How things like cruelty and beauty, innocence and evil, truth and lies all coexist. How we move forward despite this uneasy balance.

The novel follows Fee, a boy who grows up in Maine and sings in an all-boys choir. The choir director turns out to be an abuser, and his actions haunt Fee and the other boys in the choir into adulthood.

On a prose level alone, Chee’s writing is unparalleled, his sentences sharp enough to cut glass. I don’t see how anyone could read this book and come away unchanged. 

By Alexander Chee,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Edinburgh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A poignant work of mature, haunting artistry, Edinburgh heralds the arrival of a remarkable young writer. Fee, a Korean-American child growing up in Maine, is gifted with a beautiful soprano voice and sings in a professional boys' choir. When the choir director acts out his paedophilic urges on the boys in the choir, Fee is unable to save himself, his first love, Peter, or his friends.


Book cover of Poetic License: A Memoir

Linda Murphy Marshall Author Of Ivy Lodge: A Memoir of Translation and Discovery

From my list on memoirs that touch upon something special.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in the 1960s in the Midwest, in a male-dominated family, where appearances were highly important, where no one seemed to focus on anyone’s feelings or plans (particularly as a female member of the family). As a result, I’m drawn to books where the author explores this type of problematic relationship, of a protagonist trying to carve out her identity in the midst of often overwhelming obstacles. It also interests me to read about women who, like me, somehow managed to discover who they were (I use the word “translate” in my memoir), to carve out an identity that is separate from the idea that people around her erroneously hold to be true.

Linda's book list on memoirs that touch upon something special

Linda Murphy Marshall Why did Linda love this book?

I highly recommend Poetic License for anyone who a) grew up in a patriarchy and b) had fathers who were larger than life.

Cherington’s father was a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, and she had to live in his shadow for much of her life, and accommodate to a world which largely revolved around him.

It was fascinating to read about the notable literary figures who came to their home but, at the same time, having grown up in a patriarchy myself, with a larger-than-life father, I could easily imagine what life was life for the author, a life she describes in beautiful, lyrical language. 

By Gretchen Cherington,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Poetic License as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At age forty, with two growing children and a new consulting company she'd recently founded, Gretchen Cherington, daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Richard Eberhart, faced a dilemma: Should she protect her parents' well-crafted family myths while continuing to silence her own voice? Or was it time to challenge those myths and speak her truth-even the unbearable truth that her generous and kind father had sexually violated her?

In this powerful memoir, aided by her father's extensive archives at Dartmouth College and interviews with some of her father's best friends, Cherington candidly and courageously retraces her past to make sense of…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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