I’ll admit that most of my resources stems from my own (Catholic) background, and so may or may not address the issues you or someone you know is personally struggling with (though hey: don’t let that stop you). I tried to order the books from most practical to most spiritual for your convenience. If you’d like to help expand my library, please leave a recommendation in the comments section (and thank you!)
TW: Most of these resources aren’t very light reading; honestly ask yourself if you’re in a safe place to read these things if they personally concern you. To those they don’t, they do matter, if nothing else but to have an awareness and compassion to the person next to you who might be suffering in silence. Try to be respectful, please, and keep an open heart.
The Complex PTSD Workbook (Dr. Arielle Schwartz)
- A very visually refreshing book on a very intense condition that goes beyond even PTSD, often found in those who suffered multiple/consistent traumatic experiences through childhood. Dr. Schwartz takes a very non-threatening and calm approach on C-PTSD, inspiring understanding and recovery from what often feels like the unrecoverable.
The Body Keeps The Score (Dr. Bessel Van Der Volk)
- A topic that doesn’t seem to get as much attention as it deserves, Dr. Bessel addresses the physical consequences even non-physical abuse causes to the victim/survivor’s brain and entire body. In having more awareness of how one was physically effected/harmed allows for deeper healing than just the metaphysical, deepening integration and integrity.
It Wasn’t Your Fault (Beverly Engel)
- This might be the most detailed book I own (or maybe will ever own) on all things under the umbrella of abuse. Engel thoroughly yet gently touches all types of abuse at their differing degrees while suggesting self-compassion as a cure. Many of us struggle to care for ourselves as we ought, let alone know we are beloved; an affirming and inspiring read.
- It does go into very intimate details about abuse, including sexual abuse and rape; read with caution.
Silently Seduced (Dr. Kenneth Adams)
- Dr. Adams spreads awareness for the lesser known (and sometimes accidental) form of incestuous abuse known as enmeshment or covert/emotional incest by sharing his findings while working with grown victims/survivors. It goes into detail on the issues adult victim/survivors came to have from this unhealthy relationship as children, and how they made it on the road to recovery.
- He also wrote a second book with Alexander P. Morgan, When He’s Married to Mom, that focuses on mother-enmeshed men. One includes an account of a priest who took up Holy Orders due to his enmeshed relationship with his mother. While Adams notes that this got him heavy criticism from Catholics, I (as a Catholic and emotional incest victim) think this is very valuable to anyone who might be mistaking a way out of being “unfaithful” to one’s enmeshed parent (i.e. marriage) as a call to Holy Orders.
Will I Ever Be Good Enough? (Dr. Karyl McBride)
- A question that haunts many a person who grew up under narcissistic parents. Dr. Karyl McBride addresses the painful problems daughters of narcissistic mothers face in their relationships with others and themselves.
- I personally found strong parallels in narcissism to enmeshment/covert incest, so I consider this also another resource on the latter.
Boundaries (Dr. Henry Cloud)
- The first of a series of books that deals with the problem many of us struggle with; setting limits for ourselves and others, seeing where we end and they start…in a word, boundaries.
- He also wrote a book with Dr. John Townsend called Safe People, a helpful guide for someone who wants to have a better chance of meaningful relationships.
The 5 Love Languages (Gary Chapman)
- Love is a hard thing to understand, and how to best express and receive it is also tricky, hence this insightful study. This original version was mainly addressing married couples, but while it can be applied to others, he made a variety of other editions focusing on those others (I swear by the Singles Edition).
The Emotions God Gave You (Art & Laraine Bennett)
- Could be considered a sequel to their The Temperament God Gave You, Dr. Bennett helps Catholics understand a topic that seems to not be very well understood or taught about in most of the Church. His compassionate writing takes away a lot of the shame that gets attached to having feelings, and addresses how one can integrate this very human part of us to our lives.
7 Levels of Intimacy (Matthew Kelly)
- A very practical guide for anyone who wants to have stronger, more meaningful connections in his/her life. Isolation is a very serious problem these days, especially for those who’ve been abused. The answer to that is (re)building that healthy sense of emotional intimacy. (It’s also quite funny, going by the audio version I have!)
When Faith Feels Fragile (Rev. Scott Hurd)
- While the subtitle is Help for the Wary, Weak, and Wandering, I would agree with Dawn Eden’s comment that it’s not just for those of us who fit that category. It’s, as she says, also for “the new convert, to help them keep the flame of faith alive”, and I’d add it’s even (or maybe especially) for those of us who think they’re solidly in their faith, that they got the whole Catholic thing down (refer to chapter 10: “Eat Some [Humble] Pie”). Very refreshing read for the Catholic and curious non-Catholic.
My Peace I Give You (Dawn Eden)
- Speaking of Dawn, here’s one of her books on the healing journey, the one I often go back to. It’s a very soulful and insightful guide from one victim/survivor whose healing journey brought her to the Catholic faith, and how the Saints helped her overcome her abusive past and present trials.
Be Healed (Bob Schuchts)
- A very thorough and compassionate guide to healing from a Catholic viewpoint. Schuchts challenges his readers to get to the root of their problems, the wounds hidden underneath whatever keeps them from the best version of themselves, and to ask for God’s intercession for healing.
- Probably one of the better known online resources on sexual abuse in the USA that includes detailed statistics, warning signs, common concerns/issues, and more.
- If you suffer from suicidal thoughts, read this. It’s saved my life many times.
- This is also a good resource for those needing to know what to do and say during those critical moments, be it friends or care-providers.
- An online community for victims/survivors of abuse, sexual or otherwise. You can share your story, ask about difficult things you otherwise don’t feel comfortable talking about, or just talk with other victims/survivors from all ages, races, classes, countries, and creeds.
- If nothing else, you will learn that you’re not alone, and that we’re here for each other. ^_^
- A lovely article for those of us still struggling with the misplaced shame abuse causes us to oppressively feel.
- A short story that reveals how common it is for siblings’ relationships to be hurt in families that are dysfunctional due to neglect, as well as abuse and other destructive issues.
- A small but direct article about the dynamics of the scapegoat, how he/she bears all the blame in the family as well as how the family would gather together against him/her.
- One of the first resources on psychology I ever had, written by psychologist Dr. Raymond L. Richmond. He covers many topics of interest like abuse, rape, family dysfunction anger, etc. with Catholic and psychological thought, drawing from his own experiences and studies as well as saints and other psychologists like Dr. Carl Jung.
- A non-profit organization a friend of mine is developing to help spread awareness of human trafficking, as well as assist victims/survivors of this growing global problem, named after the patroness of human trafficking victims/survivors, St. Josephine Bakhita.