Best Books on Sexual Abuse that Will Help You Heal
Being sexually abused as a child can be very traumatic and damaging to one’s growth.
Sexual abuse is a violation of both your spirit and your body. As a child, you feel like your innocence and trust had been betrayed, especially if you are abused by someone you know like your parents. Most children also find it difficult to disclose their sexual abuse immediately after the event. So they usually keep it a secret and deal with the effects of the abuse alone.
Childhood sexual abuse affects the way you relate to others in adulthood. You might have problems with intimacy and trust. Or you keep getting yourself into unfulfilling and abusive relationships.
Included in the list below, you will find books for both male and female survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Go through the list and pick a book that you resonate with the most.
10 Best Books About Sexual Abuse (Incest and Child Abuse)
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1. The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis
This book is a guide for women survivors of child sexual abuse. But men will find this book beneficial too because the authors have provided a comprehensive process to heal the abuse.
If you are looking for a self-help book on this topic and unafraid to explore your past on your own, this is the book for you. In this book, you will find a lot of stories from other survivors, poems, and writing exercises that will help you gain a deeper insight into your healing. The compassionate writing style will make you feel validated too.
First published in 1988, this book is a classic and it has been revised, updated, and expanded for its 20th Anniversary edition to include new information and more resources.
2. Victims No Longer by Mike Lew
First published in 1990, this is one of the first books written for the adult male survivor of childhood sexual abuse and incest.
This book provides encouragement and a lot of information about a subject that is often ignored and talked about. So it’s both valuable for male survivors and their spouse, family, or friends who want to understand the turmoil that they have to go through.
Filled with many relatable stories from other men, this book will help you understand the thoughts, behaviors, survival strategies, and life choices that you have in place because of your sexual abuse. If you want to work through your issues of trust, intimacy, sexual confusion, connection, perfectionism, shame, guilt, and etc, read this book.
3. The Sexual Healing Journey by Wendy Maltz
Sexual abuse can disrupt our sexuality and affect our sexual intimacy with our partners. If you have issues with sex and never comfortable with it, this book is for you.
In this book, the author lists the top ten sexual symptoms of sexual abuse. Even if you are just concerned about your sex life and not fully aware of your sexual issues, this book will help you recognize the problems you face with sex and change your attitudes about sex.
Definitely, a book to read if you have difficulty becoming sexually aroused and enjoying sex or if you have associated sex with obligation, guilt, and pressure.
4. How Long Does It Hurt? by Cynthia Mather
This book is specifically written for teenagers to help them recover from incest and sexual abuse. It’s also a guide for their friends and families to help them understand how to support the abuse victim.
Without details on the abuse that are too explicit, this book helps teenagers to acknowledge the hurt and clear any doubts they have regarding their abuse experiences. It also helps the readers determine who to tell and share their experiences with and how to get help and stay safe. It even prepares them for going to court.
Filled with tons of helpful and practical information, this step-by-step guide speaks directly to the teenage victims of sexual abuse and helps them overcome their feelings of isolation, confusion, and self-doubt.
5. Beyond Betrayal by Richard Gartner
This book is about taking charge of your life after boyhood sexual abuse.
If you feel ashamed of what happened to you as a child, reading the stories of other men in this book will encourage you to open up and get support.
Written in plain language, this book is easy to understand and doesn’t have any difficult, technical jargons used in psychotherapy. In fact, it’s a good introductory book to understand the pain, struggles, and issues that affect men who were sexually abused as boys. It helps you to understand why you have been avoiding your emotions and why you struggle to be intimate in your relationship.
Read this book if you feel isolated or find it uncomfortable to share about your experience.
6. The Courage to Heal Workbook by Laura Davis
This is a companion to the book, The Courage to Heal. But unlike the previous book, this book is written for both the women and men survivors of child sexual abuse.
Also, as this is a workbook, there are many checklists, writing exercises, open-ended questions and activities that will help you through your healing process. Putting your thoughts on paper helps you to clarify your experiences and find answers. But you will have to be willing to put in the time to do the exercises to truly benefit from this book.
Unlike other books on sexual abuse too, this book is less triggering and more practical. It teaches you how to create safety for yourself, let go of shame, and establish healthy ground rules for sexual contact.
7. Healing Steps by Sharyn Jones
This book provides seven healing steps to help women survivors recover from their deep pain of early sexual abuse.
Written by a therapist who has survived sexual abuse and worked with sexual abuse victims for over thirty-five years, this book is full of exercises and suggested readings to guide you in your healing.
In this book, you will find stories of some of the women who have participated in her workshops and their recovery. Sexual abuse affects a woman deeply. There are ongoing relationships struggles, confusing feelings, distorted self-image, and fear of intimacy and being touched. If you want to free yourself from these problems, this book will help you do so.
8. Allies in Healing by Laura Davis
This book is written for people whose partner is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
Based on in-depth interviews and her workshops, the author provides highly actionable advice, support, and encouragement to the partners. The book teaches the partners to pay attention to their feelings, assert their own needs, and take care of themselves.
As a partner of a survivor, this book will also help you to understand the reactive behaviors of your significant other and help you realize that you are not the problem. It’s just that your loved one has some wounds that needed healing.
A book to read if you want to understand your role as a partner while trying to support the survivors in their lives.
9. The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender
This book is geared toward Christians. It is suitable for those who are open to Christian perspectives and is especially helpful for those who offer pastoral counseling.
This book provides a psychological analysis of the trauma that childhood sexual abuse brings. The author addresses the effects of the abuse on the victim’s heart and discusses the struggles that victims face in depth.
If you have problems trusting other people or God because of your unpleasant, past experiences, this book will offer you some hope and healing from a theological perspective.
10. Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept by Jayneen Sanders
This is a children’s book that gently broaches the subject of keeping children safe from inappropriate touch. Beautifully illustrated, this picture book is suitable for children aged 3 to 12 years.
If you feel uncomfortable talking to your kids about this subject but want to share some knowledge and protect them from child sexual abuse, this is a good book to read with your kids. At the back of the book, there are also some discussion questions to get the conversation started.
This book covers all the concerns and fears a child might have regarding telling a trusted adult about the abuse. So children who have been hurt will be able to relate to the message and be encouraged to speak up.
Hey there, I’m Yong Kang, best known as Nerdy Creator. I’m an author of seven books. I write about spirituality, self-compassion, and mindfulness. I love reading books, especially non-fiction. The list above is a combination of what I have read and my research. Each year, I create a Top 10 list of my favorite books.