The most recommended books about sexual abuse

Who picked these books? Meet our 12 experts.

12 authors created a book list connected to sexual abuse, and here are their favorite sexual abuse books.
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Book cover of You Are Safe Now: A Survivor’s Guide to Listening to Your Gut, Healing from Abuse, and Living in Freedom

Maggie Wallem Rowe Author Of This Life We Share: 52 Reflections on Journeying Well with God and Others

From my list on Christian faith-based books on living well with God and others.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about writing, reading, and recommending books that help people understand how to improve their relationship to God and to others. Verbal advice only goes so far. The wonder of books is that they contain the wisdom of years and lived experience that can encourage and equip readers long after the writers are gone. In addition to being an author of Christian living books, I have a graduate degree in biblical studies as well as decades of experience in adult education, public relations, and ministry to women. I also speak internationally on spiritual living.

Maggie's book list on Christian faith-based books on living well with God and others

Maggie Wallem Rowe Why did Maggie love this book?

I love this book because I have worked in ministry to women for over 30 years, and I’ve never read anything remotely like it. I picked it up and literally did not get out of my chair until I finished it, even with heavily underlining many parts. 

Although I have never been a victim of physical or sexual abuse, the author wrote this from the perspective of one traumatized by another woman whom she thought was a good friend and trusted spiritual advisor. What is especially helpful is that Williford’s unusual story is interwoven with her long-time therapist’s peer-reviewed insights and principles. I recommend this to anyone who has been victimized, as well as those who want to walk alongside survivors in their journey to healing. 

By Tricia Lott Williford, Jana Richardson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Are Safe Now as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“I didn’t know I was being manipulated. I didn’t know the signs.” “I didn’t know the cycle of abuse, or that it’s normal to feel guilt for something that’s not your fault, to have complex emotions about your abuser as you heal. I learned that I could set boundaries, choose not to reconcile, and still pursue the internal freedom of forgiveness.” – Tricia Lott Williford

A seasoned author and masterful storyteller, Tricia Lott Williford encountered the public trauma of the death of her husband, but she held quietly the private trauma that happened at the same time: grooming, manipulation, sexual…


Book cover of The Gwythienian

J.M. Hackman Author Of Spark

From my list on portal fantasy by small/independent presses.

Why am I passionate about this?

Indie authors and presses are sometimes dismissed as “lesser-than” and not carried by bookstores. The stories are labeled as “amateurish” or “boring.” (Some are, but so are some books coming from big publishers!) Size doesn’t really matter in the world of publishing. Being published with a small press showed me a realm beyond the huge, traditional publishing houses—it’s populated with fantastic books written by gifted authors who often write, not for fame or money, but because they love writing. I’ve found many hours of enjoyment in indie books (and lost hours of sleep, as well!) I hope, with this list, you find the same.

J.M.'s book list on portal fantasy by small/independent presses

J.M. Hackman Why did J.M. love this book?

I loved the adventure and world building in this book. Odan Terridor is a fantastical world hidden from most eyes filled with dragons, curious beasties, and a mysterious, powerful stone that makes the main character, Enzi (aka Mackenzie) invisible. As usual, the characters pulled me in. Enzi isn’t your beautiful-but-clueless heroine—she struggles with school, her weight, and a past trauma that’s truly heartbreaking (but tastefully done). It makes her victory at the end of the series so satisfying.

By Savannah J. Goins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gwythienian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

A magic relic missing from another world for years. A Tennessee teen who doesn’t know it’s hers. A dragon who needs it back, and just found out she has it.

He’s not the only dragon watching her now.

Seventeen-year-old Enzi Montgomery had worn the stone around her neck for years. It was set in a cheap metal fitting, nothing fancy.

But it made her wonder if she was crazy.

Sometimes, when she had it on, she could disappear. She couldn't make it happen. It just worked on its own. But always at convenient times, like when she'd needed to hide…


Book cover of The Kiss: A Memoir

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?

You would be forgiven for finding this memoir creepy and cringe-worthy. It is also bold and brave in its brash, brutally honest depiction of a sexual relationship between a woman in her twenties and her father. (I refuse to call it “love”.) The story is a raw example of how predators push through the permeable walls between right and wrong for their own gain. You may not agree with the young woman’s choices and you may not feel satisfied in the end, but you will accept her anguish and enter a world you hate to know exists.

By Kathryn Harrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of THE BINDING CHAIR, a searing memoir of a four-year affair between the author and her father.

'My father takes my face in his hands. He tips it up and kisses my closed eyes, my throat. I feel his fingers in the hair at the nape of my neck. I feel his hot breath on my eyelids.'

Kathryn Harrison's parents married aged 17 but were forced apart by disapproving parents within a year. By which time their only child, Kathryn, had been born. She was not to see her father again until she was ten. Instantly,…


Book cover of Filthy Rich: The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein - The Billionaire's Sex Scandal

Rob St. Clair Author Of Saving Stacy: The Untold Story of the Moody Massacre

From my list on true crime tragedies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Working as a prosecutor, trial lawyer for defendants, and as a magistrate, I’m always bothered by the misconception most people have of our criminal justice system. Unfortunately, cops are crooked, judges are corrupt, and witnesses lie on the stand. Not everyone, not every day, but more often than you would ever imagine. I write true crime books about cases where the underlying focus is on officials who are incompetent, derelict in their duties, or simply downright corrupt. The cases are always suspenseful, but justice is rarely served, and both the defendant and the public are the ones who lose.

Rob's book list on true crime tragedies

Rob St. Clair Why did Rob love this book?

There’s a reason James Patterson is a popular, best-selling author. His books are well-written, entertaining, and – when he turns his pen to nonfiction – informative.

Jeffrey Epstein rose from humble origins into the New York City and Palm Beach elite. A college dropout with an instinct for numbers – and for people – Epstein amassed his wealth through a combination of access and skill. But even after he had it all, Epstein wanted more. That unceasing desire – and especially a taste for underage girls – resulted in sexual abuse charges, to which he pleaded guilty and received a shockingly lenient sentence.

Included in Filthy Rich are police interviews with girls who alleged sexual abuse by Epstein, details of the investigation against him, and a new introduction with up-to-the-minute developments on the case, including Epstein's death by suicide. 

Filthy Rich is a riveting tale of wealth, power, and the…

By James Patterson, John Connolly, Tim Malloy

Why should I read it?

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


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 Beginning to Heal: A First Book for Men and Women Who Were Sexually Abused as Children

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?

It wasn't until I believed healing was possible that I started to heal. It's a huge step, and this little book was perfect for helping me to start believing. It's very short but packed full of wonderful ideas, exercises, and tips. I love their list of things to do to express your anger.

Reading it gave me the first glimpse that I had a right to my anger—what a gift! The second part has stories from other survivors and how they got to healing, which are very inspiring. 

By Ellen Bass, Laura Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beginning to Heal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There's nothing as wonderful as starting to heal, waking up in the morning and knowing that nobody can hurt you if you don't let them.

Beginning to Heal offers hope and guidance for all survivors starting the healing journey. No matter how great your pain today, you can not only heal but thrive. Based on the authors' bestseller The Courage to Heal, this Revised Edition of Beginning to Heal takes you through the key stages of the healing process, from crisis times to breaking the silence, grief, and anger, to resolution and moving on. It includes inspirational highlights, clear explanations,…


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 Stay Mad, Sweetheart

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?

This hugely entertaining and thought-provoking novel tackles sexual harassment and cyberbullying in a fast-paced revenge tale. Three women in the early stages of successful careers seek to avenge a friend who fell victim to a celebrity’s advances only to be harassed a second time by multitudes of strangers online. We see fault and questionable behavior from the victim, the perpetrators, and the friends. As the book's description says, it's a fine line between justice and revenge. And, I might add, that line differs for every individual.

By Heleen Kist,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stay Mad, Sweetheart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Simply superb!" —MW Craven, bestselling author of The Puppet Show and The Curator
"On point topical and beautifully written. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★" —Jo Spain, international bestselling author of The Confession

There's a fine line between innocence and guilt. An even finer line between justice and revenge.

Shy and sensible Laura prefers the company of her books to the real world – let alone that cesspit online. But when her best friend Emily becomes the victim of horrific cyberbullying, she makes it her all-engulfing mission to track down the worst culprits using her finely-tuned data skills.

Petite corporate financier…


Book cover of The Swimsuit Lesson

Julie K. Federico Author Of The Bad Guys: A Student's/Teacher's Guide to School Safety and Violence Prevention

From my list on teaching children to think of others' needs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have an expertise in parenting topics because I work as a prevention advocate for children. I work to keep children safe from; school violence, child abuse, and domestic violence. Additionally I've written children’s books on friendship and race relations for preschoolers. I'm prevention central! Prevention is so much more fun than remiation which I did for 20 years as a middle school counselor. I'm skilled at taking a difficult social topic and breaking it down into language that toddlers and preschoolers can understand. I am ending school violence, child abuse and domestic violence one book at a time. Won’t you join me in making the world a safer place?

Julie's book list on teaching children to think of others' needs

Julie K. Federico Why did Julie love this book?

There will be 500,000 babies born in the US this year that will be sexually abused before they turn 18 if we do not prevent it. Child abuse is 90% preventable. 90% of children are harmed by a loved one or family member. This book is for older children ages 8 to 13 years. It has wonderful illustrations and a very important message for children to understand and internalizse.

By Jon Holsten, Scott Freeman (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Swimsuit Lesson is a powerful family resource - introducing a simple, yet effective way for parents to educate their children about the danger of sexual abuse. This beautifully illustrated story book includes a separate step-by-step parent's guide. Author, and police officer, Jon Holsten provides a realistic view of the danger facing children today, and what families can do to reduce chances of being victimized.


Book cover of The Courage to Be Me: A Story of Courage, Self-Compassion and Hope After Sexual Abuse

Meg-John Barker Author Of Sexuality: A Graphic Guide

From my list on comic books about sexuality.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a queer writer who is passionate about getting good awareness of gender, sexuality, relationships and mental health out there into the world. I create comics, zines, blog posts, and self-help style books to try to reach as wide an audience as possible, bringing together the work of activists, scholars, therapists, and creators - and drawing on a diverse range of knowledge and experiences - in the hope of helping us all understand ourselves and our world better.

Meg-John's book list on comic books about sexuality

Meg-John Barker Why did Meg-John love this book?

Post #metoo there’s a lot more awareness around sexual abuse and assault, but still few books to help readers to understand why it impacts them the way it does. 

In The Courage to Be Me, cartooning psychologist Nina Burrowes presents what we know from the science of sexual trauma, and tells the stories of a group who support each other around their experiences. 

Having several different stories, all illustrated by different comic artists, emphasises the diverse forms that assault and abuse can take, and the ways in which they hit us all differently. Despite the tough topics covered, this is an uplifting book which helps the reader to see their experiences reflected, and to learn some skills for how to look after themselves around what happened with the kindness they deserve.


By Nina Burrowes, Alexander Bertram-Powell (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Courage to Be Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do you rebuild your life after sexual abuse? Join a group of women as they share their stories of courage, self-compassion and hope. Find out how meeting each other and learning about recovery helped them find the courage to be themselves. The courage to be me combines science, storytelling and illustration to send a message of hope to the millions of people who are living with the impact of rape or sexual abuse. Written by psychologist and researcher Dr Nina Burrowes