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22 Profound Books Based On True Stories Of Abuse

This article showcases our top picks for ‘Books Based On True Stories Of Abuse’. We reached out to industry leaders and experts who have contributed the suggestions within this article (they have been credited for their contributions below).

We are keen to hear your feedback on all of our content and our comment section is a moderated space to express your thoughts and feelings related (or not) to this article This list is in no particular order.


Behind Close Doors by Jenny Tomlin

This product was recommended by Rhiannon Moore from Evopure

This book is a traumatic recount of Jenny Tomlin’s abuse at the hands of her father, both sexually and physically. The story stuck with me, because of the sheer strength Jenny possesses to get through her experience and come out of the other side ready to find happiness and love, and save others in the same situation. It’s hard to fathom how a parent can inflict such horrid abuse onto their own child, but it’s even harder to imagine how a child can get out of the situation and heal – ready to live her life the way she wanted it to be.


A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer

This product was recommended by Tal Shelef from Condo Wizard

This book has been at the top of my recommendation lists ever since I had the chance to read it years ago. It tells of the author’s own harrowing and brutal experience at the hands of his own mother while his father and siblings looked on. Considered as one of the most severe child abuse cases in California, this book has evoked intense feelings of rage and sadness within me, but within those feelings, also came a spark of inspiration and hope as I read through his experience and how he, even as a child starved of love and affection, refused to give up. I recommend this book greatly in hopes that it will educate and open more eyes to the fact that sometimes, a person’s own flesh and blood is more than capable of inflicting harm, particularly on those who are young and defenseless.


My Story by Dave Pelzer

This product was recommended by Ahmed Mir from Sip Coffee House

This is really three books in one and tells the heart-wrenching story of Dave Pelzer’s childhood. It details his path from an abused and tortured child called ‘it’ through foster care and then into adulthood. It is a powerful and thought-provoking read.


I Closed My Eyes by Michele Weldon

This product was recommended by James Bullard from Sound Fro

This is not only a story about domestic violence. This is also a book about an empowered, separate man who possessed her as she reclaimed her true self. The author of this book offers hope to all women with similar stories, move forward, modelling the courage to fight, continue moving forward and live a life full of love.


Goodbye, Sweet Girl by Kelly Sundberg

This product was recommended by James Bullard from Sound Fro

The author of this book wrote bursting with such beautifully crafted and heartfelt scenes. The story is a gift for those who have experienced abusive relationships and the pain of growing up. This book can also be a guide for those who seek insight and understanding. Kelly’s Sundberg’s Goodbye, Sweet Girl is one of those books that bear witness to the difficulty of letting go of everything – hopes, companionship and even love. Goodbye, Sweet Girl is one of those essential stories, told well, and told true.


Gladversity by Laura Borland

This product was recommended by Patricia Celan from Gladversity

How can people survive abuse as a child and go through life not with post-traumatic stress disorder, but with post-traumatic growth? This book is filled with inspirational real-life stories from people who have overcome various types of adversity and thrived.


This Little Light by Christa Brown

This product was recommended by Russell L. Meek from RussMeek

This book tells a story not just of sexual abuse but also of the inept institutional respose and refusal to address the scourge of sexual abuse in the United States’s largest Protestant denomination. Long before the Houston Chronicle’s expose on widespread sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, Brown was sounding the alarm and begging for help that fell on deaf ears. This book tells her story and offers a readers insight into the horrors that sexual abuse survivors face when they come forward to name their abusers.


Doing This ONE Thing Will Change Your Life Forever! by Jacqui Olliver

This product was recommended by Jacqui Olliver from End the Problem

Her father’s suicide seemed to be a morbid ending to Jacqui Olliver’s teenage years of isolation, loneliness and not feeling wanted. Like many other experts, her life started out as a troubled teenager, working through the mental contamination associated with sexual abuse, low self-esteem, social anxiety, and depression. Emotional and intimacy issues which contaminate relationships are solved in this book along with a proven strategy for enhancing all aspects of personal connection. These insightful answers can transform an adult or teen from feeling frustrated, insecure and isolated into a happy, radiant and confident person.


#SheWins by Alisa Divine

This product was recommended by Alisa Divine from Personal Power Press

Do you know someone who has been in a domestic abuse relationship? That may be an uncomfortable question to answer. It is emotional. It is shameful. And maybe it is a secret. It’s time to change the rules society has set. In the book, #SheWins: Harrowing Stories From Women Who Experienced Domestic Abuse, you will hear 21 women from around the globe tell their stories of abuse and see their emotional photographs. Domestic abuse attempts to crush the spirit of its victims. But not all victims remain defeated. Despite their circumstances, you will also hear how each of these women triumphed and took their power back back. We all saw the impact the #MeToo movement made — it increased awareness of abuse and it helped women find their voices. Now it is time to take another step forward, turn our pain into power and create lives full of meaning and purpose.


Killing Kate by Kate Ranta with Alisa Divine

This product was recommended by Alisa Divine from Personal Power Press

A burning question around domestic violence is, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” Killing Kate reads like a real-life horror-thriller of what happened when one woman did “just leave.” Follow the crazy signs and red flags the husband showed and the tragedy that ensued. This book is a cautionary tale and a rallying cry for women to support each other. Kate’s story is an essential read in the fight against domestic and gun violence.


Shattered Sanctuary by Amanda June Matthews

This product was recommended by Amanda Matthews from Orchideria

As a missionary, I ventured overseas to work with abused women as a career, yet I couldn’t recognize the own abuse in my marriage. I was told to be patient and submissve since interracial marriages are somewhat harder. When I realized that the highest-ranking Brazilian military colonel (my husband) was serious about taking my life, I fled in the middle of the night with nowhere to go, two small children, and only 250 dollars. For 3 years I hid, staying off the grid and fleeing from house to house. Even though I was American, I couldn’t get back home to the United States. Legal paperwork to leave Brazil was costly and slow. Not only did I have to stay alive for my children but I also had to rebuild my own shattered identity as I made it across 5,000 miles back home to Kansas with my children.


Divine Invitations by ArDenay Garner

This product was recommended by ArDenay Garner from ArDenayGarner

Divine Invitations – The 7 Spiritual Lessons of Relationships, by ArDenay Garner, offers hope to those who have experienced abuse. It is a heartfelt nonfiction narrative that teaches every woman how to move through the daily challenges of intimacy to experience more peace, positivity, and purpose. In Divine Invitations, I will show you how to L.E.A.D. so that you can live the courageous and authentic life that you desire after surviving abuse: Let go of hurtful memories from your past, Express compassion for yourself and others, Awaken your inner creativity and entrepreneurial spirit; and Discover lessons in self-betrayal that are counterproductive to the life you desire. If you want to find purpose in the messiness of your relationships, Divine Invitations, is the book for you!


TO KILL OR BE KILLED by Joni Ankerson

This product was recommended by Natalie DeYoung from WildBlue Press

This is a powerful, first-hand account of sexual abuse caused by the author’s ex-husband, who was a state police officer. Twelve years of enduring domestic violence at its absolute worst. Constant abuse, control, manipulation, and threats. Sadistic sexual deviance and sexual violence. It was only going to end one way: someone would die in our bed and someone would go to prison for murder. This is my story about domestic violence, resilience, reckoning and survival.


Sever the Cycle of Abuse with The Sub Shop Savior by Lynette Louise

This product was recommended by Tsara Shelton from TsaraShelton

Sever the Cycle of Abuse is the poetically told (and visually emotive) true story of a young mother. She is lost, trying to save herself from a deep and dangerously dark place. Her own strength and intelligence are working against her, having been fed for years with abuse and lies. With the tenacity of a mom insisting on becoming healthy for her children and the help of an uncommon stranger, the tangle of abuse and lies is recognized, examined, and severed. This is a true story of the author herself as a young woman and it dips courageously back into the dark place, reaching a hand out to anyone needing to share her strength, and then leads a way into self-healing and forgiveness. The story is told in a poetic voice with clarity and candor and includes illustrations – drawn by the author’s grandchild – that stir emotions. This book, like so many from this author, serves as a friend, a story, a perspective, and a teacher.


SURVIVAL by Dennis N. Griffin

This product was recommended by Natalie DeYoung from WildBlue Press

Survival is a unique story of sexual abuse at the hands of the author’s father. It is important to discuss sexual abuse by parents and sexual abuse happening to males, which is a lesser told side of the story. Vinnie’s father and his friends sexually abused him as a child. Vinnie’s father told him that he would only be proud if his son won a boxing championship. Vinnie Curto later went on to become a world boxing champion.


Playing Dead by Monique Faison Ross

This product was recommended by Natalie DeYoung from WildBlue Press

Playing Dead is such an important title when discussing abuse because it really shows the progression. Faison Ross details the relationship from the beginning, noting small changes along the way that were signs of what was to come. The author also includes her numerous legal steps to keep her abusive husband away: injuctions, police warnings, and even arrest. Despite these efforts, he continues to become moew abusive. One fateful Monday morning, Chris kidnapped Monique in front of her children and drove off on a nightmarish car ride that involved car crashes and rape. He mercilessly beat her on the head with a shovel and abandoned her brutalized body in the woods in the rain. He left, presuming she was dead…but was she?


Blatantly Honest by Makaila Nichols

This product was recommended by Makaila Nichols from Blatantly Honest Foundation

By age 14, Nichols had been sexually assaulted, battled multiple eating disorders, was bullied by both her teachers and fellow students, and felt that she only had two options: take her own life or create change for herself and others. Today, at 22 years old, Makaila is the best-selling author of Blatantly Honest: Normal Teen, Abnormal Life and founder of the Blatantly Honest Foundation. In her book, she shares her personal struggles with issues teens may encounter such as: bullying, body image, sexual assault, peer pressure and more. The book offers real, relatable advice based on lessons learned in today’s world.


The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog By Bruce D Perry

This product was recommended by Brack Nelson from Incrementors

This book is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It is evidence-based and well-researched, describing the workings of scientific principles about creation and the brain in a way that people of all science levels will understand. It also does an outstanding job of distributing true, difficult stories of child neglect and abuse with hope and practical tips for helping those we confront in our lives who may have experienced these horrible things. The lessons are easily portable to all work with children.


The Body Keeps the Score By Bessel van der Kolk

This product was recommended by Elizabeth Wilcox from ElizabethWilcox

To understand the impact of trauma, we have to look at its impact on our whole self. This seminal work explores not only the far-reaching impact of trauma but also how we can heal from its effects.


The Deepest Well By Nadine Burke Harris

This product was recommended by Elizabeth Wilcox from ElizabethWilcox

Dr. Burke Harris, now Surgeon General of California, shows us how deeply adverse childhood experiences – ACES – can impact us. ACE may include abuse, neglect, mental illness and parental addiction and this book can help you understand and heal, whether you are a survivor or someone who loves and cares for one.


The Long Tail of Trauma By Elizabeth Wilcox

This product was recommended by Elizabeth Wilcox from ElizabethWilcox

This multigenerational memoir explores the effects of trauma across three generations of women. Set against a twenty-year dialogue with her mother Barbara who suffers from long undiagnosed PTSD, author Elizabeth Wilcox traces the lives of her grandmother Violet and her mother Barbara, both of whom are deeply impacted by maternal separation and the complex trauma they have endured.


Tears of the Silenced by Misty Griffin

This product was recommended by Natik Ameen from Canz Marketing

Misty Griffin has put just a small fraction of the horror of her childhood into print to improve people, to speak up, and get concerned when abuse of a child is considered. She also did an excellent job of breaking down the wall covering the warped beliefs by most Amish that physical harm is forgiven and should have forgotten by all parties involved when the soldier sits at a separate table, same house, same people, separate table from his family for two weeks. She shows how tough and determined many people can be, even after years and years of abuse at the hands of the different people who in a “normal” condition would have kept her safe and made her feel loved.

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