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

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by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

This is an inspiring, comprehensive guide that offers hope to sexually abused women.  The authors provide a map of the healing process, thoroughly explain the effects of abuse and suggest techniques for working through healing in a realistic but encouraging way.  The last section of the book includes abuse stories from survivors.

“The environment in which you live—the people you see—affects your ability to make changes. People who are working to grow and change in their own lives will support you with encouragement and by example. People who are living out the pattern you’re trying to break will continually such you back in. Respect the power of influence.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: I think I would have been lost without this book.  It told me what stage of the healing process I was in, that what I was experiencing was normal and what to expect as I progressed.  If I only had one book on sexual abuse, this is the one I’d choose.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen 

Beyond BetrayalBeyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life After Boyhood Sexual Abuse

by Richard B. Gartner, Ph.D.

Beyond Betrayal is written specifically for male sexual abuse survivors who were abused by male or female perpetrators.  This book explores the different types of abuse, revealing its profound impact on one’s self-concept of a man and the difficulties of developing intimate relationships.

“The world gives medals to men for subduing prey, not for being subdued.  We’re told that the best men win. As a general once said, in war there’s no second prize.  It’s clear: a real man can’t be a victim.

 So if you were sexually abused, where does this leave you? As a boy, maybe you felt pulled apart.  Your three images of man were caught up in an impossible conflict: Maybe you disliked the boy you were. Maybe you felt you couldn’t become the boy you wanted to be. And you very likely felt you couldn’t develop into the man the world expected you to become. These conflicts may have left you feeling cut off and lost. You were disconnected from the man you were becoming. You were detached from your self—the self who felt hope about growing up, the self with strength, will, determination, and a sense of discovery.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: I know this book is meant for men, but I’ve gotten a lot out of it for myself. I wanted to read it so I could understand male survivors better, which I feel I do now, but was surprised how much applied to me.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen


Emerging From Broken Book CoverEmerging From Broken: The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

by Darlene Ouimet

This is an inspiring, encouraging book for men and women suffering from the effects of any type of abuse. The author suffered from chronic depression, Dissociative Identity Disorder and PTSD, but overcome them all. Through her own journey of healing, Darlene provides insights and hope for others to emerge from their own brokenness.

I wasn’t born broken. It was through my examination of where the broken began that I was able to move from questioning “what is wrong with me” to questioning “what happened to me?” The change in my life was dramatic. Depression fell away, my mood swings leveled out and I completely stopped dissociating. I started to feel excited at the prospect of each new day! My joy in discovering my true self was profound. After a lifetime of struggle, I found freedom and wholeness. I vowed that I would find a way to share it with a hurting world.”

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen 


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

by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis

Beginning to Heal offers hope and guidance to men and women survivors of sexual abuse.  This is based on The Courage to Heal by the same authors.  This book takes you through the key stages of healing, from crisis times to breaking the silence, grief, and anger, to resolution and moving on.

“As a survivor of child sexual abuse you have a lot to grieve for. You grieve for the ways you were hurt. You grieve for not being protected, for the things you missed out on as a child. You grieve for the time and effort it takes to heal, for the relationships and happiness you have lost.

You may have to grieve for you lost faith or give up the idea that the abuser had your best interests at heart.

You may have to grieve for the fact that you don’t have suitable grandparents for your children, or a family you can depend on.

You must also grieve for the shattered image of a world that is fair and safe for children. You will grieve for your lost innocence and ability to trust.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: This book is intended for the beginning of the healing process, but I read it when I was more advanced in my healing.  A lot of the passages were familiar since I’ve read The Courage to Heal so many times, yet it was still impactful since it’s in a more concentrated form.  I also really liked the addition of men’s perspectives.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen 

Repressed Memories: A Journey of Recovery from Sexual Abuse

by Renee Fredrickson, Ph.D.

This book explains the causes of repressed memories, how to regain your memories, and how to use your memories to heal.

“The abuse is not only hidden from public view but from the view of the family members themselves. The family members believe the façade of normalcy because it is what they have grown up with. Anything that does not fit is buried or rationalized away. Anyone who tells the secrets or points out the sickness is punished or even exiled. The façade is maintained at the expense of individual family members.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: This book not only helped me to fill in the missing puzzle pieces of my past as I worked to recover forgotten memories, but helped me to see what was hidden in plain view. I didn’t think I had any memories of being abused until I saw through the examples in this book that I merely normalized many of my memories.  It also explained the family system in a way that made so much sense.  It was always such a mystery to me how my mother could betray me like she did until I read this book.  This is my second favorite book on recovery from sexual abuse.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen 

Secret Survivors: Uncovering Incest and Its Aftereffects in Women

by E. Sue Blume

Secret Survivors shows how sexual abuse is often at the root of such problems as depression, sexual and eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, and phobias and panic disorders.  The author explains the natural, healthy needs that underlie the aftereffects and how to meet them in healthy ways.

“…In addition to social and gender-based circumstances, incest survivors often are prepared to be victims—or to fail to see the victimization. The incest survivor often knows things feel bad but does not know how bad they are or how much better they can be. And her choices are confined by her narrow field of expectations and her broad field of tolerance.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: I felt like the author must have been following me around all my life and recording all the screwed up stuff I did.  She explained so much of what led to my feelings and behaviors.  I finally felt like I knew the reason for why I am how I am.  Knowing where it came from made me feel less shame and enabled me to deal with the root of the issues so I didn’t have to repeat them.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen 

Beyond SurvivalBeyond Survival: A Writing Journey for Healing Childhood Sexual Abuse

by Maureen Brady

Beyond Survival is a fifty-two-week journal of self-exploration, liberation and empowerment for male and female survivors of sexual abuse.  It offers tools and techniques—from reading and writing to visualization and taking concrete action—that aids the healing process.

“For change to occur in us, we must be willing to enter the wilderness of the unknown and to wander in unfamiliar territory, directionless and often in the darkness. We must be willing to release our victim’s role. That was who we were. That is not who we are now.

We dread the feeling of “lostness” that goes along with being in the wilderness of our unknown self. Many of us were children forced into adult roles. We had to know how to take care of things. We tried to parent our parents so that they could grow up and help us. We don’t like to be the newcomer, the student, or the patient; we are more comfortable being the old-timer, the teacher, or the doctor.

But it is time to take our turn at being unformed, unsure, not confident. We deserve to be able to let ourselves fall into fragments and feel fragmented awhile. We do not need to keep every little thing under control. In fact, we find ourselves only by allowing some falling apart to happen.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: This book was very helpful in sharing the same issues that I’ve read from dozens of other sources, yet it provided fresh insights I hadn’t seen before.  I didn’t care for the workbook part of it.  The questions didn’t seem helpful to me, but it was well worth reading anyway.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen 

Silently SeducedSilently Seduced: When Parents Make Their Children Partners

by Kenneth M. Adams, PH.D.

Through illustrative examples, Silently Seduced provides perceptive insight that helps male and female incest survivors understand what happened to them, how their lives and relationships continue to be affected and how to begin the process of recovery.

“Covert incest occurs when a child becomes the object of a parent’s affection, love, passion and preoccupation. The parent, motivated by loneliness and emptiness created by a chronically troubled marriage or relationship, makes the child a surrogate partner. The boundary between caring and incestuous love is crossed when the relationship with the child exists to meet the needs of the parent rather than those of the child.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: I always knew I was a victim of incest in the physical sense, but I didn’t consider that I could also be a victim of emotional incest. When the molestation stopped I didn’t realize just how much my dad had made me his partner until I read this book. It was so eye opening. There were times when my dad would share things about his marital troubles and I would ask myself, “Why are you telling me this?” A part of me felt privileged by the information he would share or by the special treatment I received. I was daddy’s little girl. But I didn’t realize just how unhealthy that treatment was. Silently Seduced paints a clear picture of where the parent child relationship should be, not only physically, but emotionally.

Recommended by Bethany 

Ghosts in the BedroomGhosts in the Bedroom: A Guide for Partners of Incest Survivors

by Ken Graber, M.A.

This book provides comfort and guidance for partners in the process of recovery.  The author draws from personal experience to show how partners can accept responsibility for their own issues, support the recovery of the sexual abuse survivor and work toward resolving relationship problems together.

“Remember that we are unconsciously attracted to others who remind us of our family of origin. If we recognize any dysfunction in the survivor, it is highly likely that we are also the products of a dysfunctional family and have problems of our own. Similarly, recognizing that survivors come from dysfunctional backgrounds probably means that they were attracted by some of the same dysfunctions in us. Recovery works best, not when the survivor is identified as the problem that needs fixing, but when both partner and survivor are committed to personal growth and working on their own issues. Common issues and relationship issues can be worked on together. If as partners we refuse to face our own problems and fail to work toward correcting our behavior and eliminating dysfunction in the relationship, then the survivor in recovery will be the one who outgrows us and leaves.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: As a survivor, this book helped me to understand my husband’s feelings during this sometimes traumatic time of healing.  This book reminded me that this isn’t all about me and helped me to see my husband as a whole person instead of just as my biggest support.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen 

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: I found this book helpful in articulating the role I could play in my wife’s process and giving me some idea of what to expect.

Recommended by Don Enevoldsen

The Verbally Abusive RelationshipThe Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond 

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by Patrica Evans

This book provides descriptions and examples of verbally abusive relationships, encouragement for the abused and guidelines for dealing with abusers.

“The verbal abuser especially undermines the partner’s self-perception. If the partner is told with gradually increasing frequency that she is illogical, too sensitive, always trying to start an argument, competitive, always has to be right, etc., she may become conditioned to accept more and more abuse while experiencing more and more self-doubt. This conditioning is like brainwashing. It may extend beyond herself to her family, her interests, and her most cherished ideals.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: Though this book is specifically about verbal abuse, it thoroughly explains the use of power in relationships, therefore everyone would benefit from this, especially survivors of any type of abuse.  I never recognized how verbally abusive my ex-husband was until reading this book.  I wasn’t aware of how the patterns of abuse worked, so I still blamed myself somewhat.  It was very liberating to understand these issues.  Also, I recognized abusive tendencies in some of my behavior, so I was able to correct that.  The author acknowledges verbal abuse is perpetrated by women onto men, though all her examples are of abuse perpetrated by men onto women.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen

Toxic Faith: Experiencing Healing from Painful Spiritual Abuse

by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton

Toxic Faith uncovers the beliefs, characteristics and rules of an abusive religious system and shows how to break free of an unhealthy dependency on religion.

“When authority is well placed, it respects the individuals over whom it has authority. When it is not well placed, it is our responsibility to expose the abuse and be part of the solution. Christ challenged the religious authorities who turned away from God and toward rules developed by men. Christ stood up to those people and told them they were wrong. He tried to produce change by what he said and by how he lived. If we are to follow his example, we must intervene when abuse is part of submission. We must have the courage to follow Christ’s example and overturn the system, be it a marriage or an organization, if that system is wrong. Silent submission in the face of violence, dishonesty, and abuse will only allow that abuse to be passed on to new generations.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: I was a part of a church that was spiritually abusive and didn’t even realize how unhealthy it was.  I don’t think I could have faced the truth of my sexual abuse as long as I was in this dysfunctional spiritual atmosphere. This book helped me move through the healing process and recognize unhealthy patterns so I didn’t have to repeat them.

Recommendedby Christina Enevoldsen 

BoundariesBoundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life 

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by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Boundaries explains the purpose and benefits of boundaries and how to implement them. This book is a guide to improving your relationships, finding a path to freedom and regaining control of your life.

“Our real concern with others should not be “Are they doing what I would do or what I want them to do?” but “Are they really making a free choice?” When we accept others’ freedom, we don’t get angry, feel guilty, or withdraw our love when they set boundaries with us. When we accept others’ freedom, we feel better about our own.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: Boundaries sound so limiting and confining, but living with boundaries is actually quite liberating. Reading this book really freed me of so much guilt that pretty much drove me to give my life away to whoever claimed my time, talent, energy or knowledge.  I felt empowered for the first time in my life to say no with confidence, knowing that I was really saying yes to me.

This book isn’t specifically written for survivors of abuse, but since dealing with boundary issues is such an important part of recovery, this is an excellent source for survivors.  Boundaries is written from a Christian perspective, but the information is useful to anyone.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen 

Safe PeopleSafe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t 

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by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

Safe People shows how to make wise decisions in relationships from friendships to romance.  It teaches how to recognize what makes people trustworthy and includes twenty traits of unsafe people.

“Some people feel that they are entitled to trust. We often hear of someone saying, ‘So you don’t trust me.’ Or ‘Are you questioning my integrity?’ Or ‘You don’t believe me.’ They get defensive and angry because someone questions their actions, and they think they are above being questions or having to prove their trustworthiness. But none of us is above questioning, and to take offense at it is very prideful.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: I read this every couple of years because I see new things as my general base of knowledge increases and as I feel better and better about myself.  It’s very validating and helps me feel more confident about the relationship decisions I make.  It’s told through a biblical perspective, but it didn’t seem preachy.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen 

Evicting the Perpetrator: A Male Survivor Guide to Recovery From Childhood Sexual Abuse

by Ken Singer, MSW

Ken Singer LCSW’s release ‘Evicting the Perpetrator’ comes as a result of 30+ years experience working with sexual abuse victim/survivors as well as juvenile and adult abusers. The most recent book on the topic of male sexual assault and abuse, Mr. Singer’s approach is the only one that includes a discussion of how sexual trauma and abuse impacts the brain and the manner in which it restructures itself in response to the experiences. His ideas are expressed and articulated with the same spirit and intention that has guided his work as a clinical therapist: ‘in the hope of preventing more victims’, and to help others already touched by the hand of sexual abuse and assault, to overcome its legacy.

“This book is different from the many books published for adult survivors of sexual abuse. The symptoms and consequences of abuse have been written about many times, providing the good advice that “it wasn’t your (the survivor’s) fault. However, many survivors, especially men, may believe that it was their fault for ‘allowing’ the abuse to take place, not fighting back or not reporting the abuse. This feeling persists because, despite efforts by the survivors and others to reduce the sense of blame in the victims, the role of the abuser has not been examined for what it was. The goal of this book is to help survivors and those supporting them to understand how abusers are able to do what they do”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: As a survivor of both incest and rape, I have been working recovery solutions for 35+ years. Mr. Singer’s knowledge is appreciated as an invaluable cutting edge addition to current sexual abuse/assault recovery text. In my opinion it earns its place on the shelf beside others that have for decades inspired healing and recovery successes for survivors and their loved ones.

Recommended by Ron Schulz

Healing the Shame That Binds You

by John Bradshaw

In an emotionally revealing way Bradshaw shows is how toxic shame is the core problem in our compulsions, co-dependencies, addictions and the drive to super-achieve. We are bound by our shame. But drawing from 22 years experience as a counselor, he offers the techniques to heal the shame. Using affirmations, “inner voice” and feeling work, plus guided meditations and other useful healing techniques, he points the way to freedom from the shame of the past, offering vital recovery techniques.

“Because of its preverbal origins, shame is difficult to define. It is a healthy human power which can become a true sickness of the soul. There are two forms of shame: nourishing shame, and toxic/life destroying shame. Because toxic shame stays in hiding and covers itself up, we have to track it down by learning to recognize its many faces and its many distracting behavioral coverups”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: This book was the first on the subject of shame that penetrated the heart of the matter and helped me to face what had become the core demon in my life. It helped me learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy shame, and helped me to put it in its rightful place in my life.

Recommended by Ron Schulz

Victims No Longer Book CoverVictims No Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse

by Mike Lew

The first book written specifically for men, Victims No Longer examines the changing cultural attitudes toward male survivors of incest and other sexual trauma. Now, in an expanded Second Edition, this invaluable resource continues to offer compassionate and practical advice, supported by personal anecdotes and statements of male survivors. Victims No Longer educates survivors and professionals about the recovery process – speaking to the pain, needs, fears, and hopes of the adult male survivor.

“The reality is that abuse exists. It is real and it is common. It takes many forms, some blatant and others more subtle. The spectrum of child abuse ranges from neglect to physical violence. It includes torture, beatings, verbal and psychological maltreatment, child pornography, and sexual abuse (ranging from seductive behavior to rape) Abuse appears in varying combinations, durations, and intensities. What all forms have in common is their devastating, long-term effects of the child.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: Victims No Longer still stands as the most important resource for men healing from past sexual abuse, and is often referred to as the “Male Sexual Abuse Recovery Bible”. It helped set my feet on the recovery path, begin to identify, face and debunk the myths surrounding male sexual abuse, and ultimately to see my way out of the thick cloud of shame, fear and confusion and doubt.

Recommended by Ron Schulz

Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse

by Mic Hunter

This book has been referred to as a landmark in the field of child sexual abuse literature. Like ‘The Courage to Heal’ it is an essential book that helps anyone struggling with childhood trauma to find the hope and strength to recover and lead fulfilled adult lives.

“The effects of childhood sexual abuse are frequently lifelong and severe. They are so profound not only because sexuality is so personal but also because there is more than a sexual aspect to the abuse. Sexual abuse is also physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse. It affects all areas of life. In addition, sexual abuse is not accidental…. it is not something that happens to you, it is something that is done TO you, by someone, on purpose. Although the offender may not have intended to hurt you, he or she did intend to be sexual with you and thereby did you harm”.

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: This book was an informative resource, and very educational in terms of how it defined sexual abuse and showed how I had ‘organized my life around the wound’ of sexual assault and abuse. If knowledge is power, then this book was invaluable instrumental in helping to restore the power that was misplaced through the experience of sexual abuse.

Recommended by Ron Schulz

Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society’s Betrayal Of The Child

By Alice Miller

Originally published in 1984, “Thou Shalt Not Be Aware” explodes Freud’s notions of “infantile sexuality” and helps to bring to the world’s attention the brutal reality of child abuse, changing forever our thoughts of “traditional” methods of child-rearing. Dr. Miller exposes the harsh truths behind children’s “fantasies” by examining case histories, works of literature, dreams, and the lives of such people as Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, Gustave Flaubert, and Samuel Beckett. Now with a new preface by Lloyd de Mause and a new introduction by the author, “Thou Shalt Not Be Aware” continues to bring an essential understanding to the confrontation and treatment of the devastating effects of child abuse.

“The general public tends to doubt the prevalence of sexual abuse of children by older siblings and adults and to deny its lasting effects, because the necessary repression of what one knew as a young child blocks any later insight into the subject. Furthermore, it is not in the best interest of adults, once they are in a position to take over the active role themselves, to uncover the motives behind their actions. But most important, the principles of “poisonous pedagogy” insist that parents’ actions toward their children be regarded exclusively as loving and beneficial and that children be denied the right to protest”.

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: This book was the first to open my eyes to the realization of the very real traumatizations of childhood, and how those served to form many of the complexes that later effected my own personal development.

Recommended by Ron Schulz

The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being
by Daniel J. Siegel

Leading neurobiologist Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., presents a new framework for maintaining mental health and well-being. Three human experiences have been documented as promoting well-being: secure attachment, mindfulness meditation, and effective psychotherapy. Siegel’s unifying theory shows that the effects of these three experiences have a similar neural mechanism. Siegel uses theory, science, and anecdote to reveal how to transform the brain as well as promote well-being. The book is divided into four sections: Mind, Brain, and Awareness; Immersion in Direct Experience; Facets of the Mindful Brain; and Reflections on the Mindful Brain. Appendices include Reflection and Mindfulness Resources, Glossary and Terms, and Neural Notes on the Anatomy of the Brain. Siegel’s book stands out for its skillful weaving together of the interpersonal, the inner world, the latest science, and practical applications, all envisioned as a whole.

“Being aware of the fullness of our experience awakens us to the inner world of our mind and immerses us completely in our lives. This is a book about how the way we pay attention in the present moment can directly improve the functioning of body and brain, subjective mental life with its feelings and thoughts, and interpersonal relationships”.

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: The understanding of the role of the brain and the impact of trauma on its formation and function has been an incredible illuminating experience, and brought me to the next chapter in my recovery.

Recommended by Ron Schulz

Being a Brain-Wise Therapist: A Practical Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology
by Bonnie Badenoch

Neuroscientific discoveries have begun to illuminate the workings of the active brain in intricate detail. In easy-to-understand prose, Being a Brain-Wise Therapist reviews the basic principles about brain structure, function, and development, and explains the neurobiological correlates of some familiar diagnostic categories, such as depression, anxiety, dissociation, addiction, and other disorders conditions.

“The influence of parents on their children’s temperament takes us back to the main theme of this book: the impact of early attachment experiences on mental health. Even at the level of basic science, disturbances in the processes of regulation/integration are being recognized as the core of mental suffering. Whether we consider easily identifiable traumatic experiences or the subtler devastation of quiet but disturbed relationships with parents, the consequences for brain development can define the trajectory of a life”.

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: Bonnie’s book took me to the next level of regaining that self who got buried under the avalanche of unhappy circumstances which led me to develop ideas and perceptions that served more to repress rather than release my true human potential. He work has helped birth a hope that there can be true freedom from the chains of the past.

 Recommended by Ron Schulz