Books have the power to speak to our experiences, and to give us insight into the experiences of others. For sexual assault survivors, finding a work that deals with sexual assault in an empowering way can provide the comfort, support, and strength necessary to seek help. The following titles are some of the most powerful, healing works for sexual assault survivors.
#1: Healing the Man Within: Hope for Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Randy Boyd
Male survivors of sexual assault can often feel invisible in sexual assault literature, but this autobiography by Randy Boyd discusses male experiences specifically. In this book, Boyd describes the difficult journey he experienced following childhood sexual abuse, discussing topics such as addiction, manhood, and success. The book also contains contributions from experts to help male survivors of childhood sexual abuse seek healing in their adult lives.
#2: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
American writer and poet Maya Angelou is one of the most well-renowned authors of the 20th century, and her autobiography describes her early years growing up in Arkansas. The book discusses Angelou’s childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend, framed through her adult lens and subsequent growth. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings has a somber plot, but also a hopeful afterword for any survivor.
#3: Lucky by Alice Sebold
Author Alice Sebold experienced a harrowing act of sexual assault while studying at Syracuse College in New York State. Her memoir Lucky details her experience and its aftermath, including her recovery, growth, and how she sought the help necessary to capture and convict her attacker. While Sebold’s life completely changed following the assault, she exercised incredible resilience — and her story is a true inspiration.
#4: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
For survivors who want to understand their trauma responses, The Body Keeps the Score discusses the connection between the brain, mind, body, and how survivors recover from traumatic experiences. The book navigates between scientific research and inspiring patient stories for an uplifting and enlightening experience.
#5: Light Shines in the Darkness: My Healing Journey Through Sexual Abuse and Depression by Lucille F. Sider
Lucille F. Sider is a clinical psychologist and clergywoman who experienced sexual abuse as a child and adolescent. Her poignant autobiography details her journey to healing. In this book, Sider discusses how she overcame her trauma and found recovery in spirituality and in a caring, supportive family. Sider also uses her psychological background to provide analysis on trauma response to help survivors understand their own experiences.
#6: Joining Forces: Empowering Male Survivors to Thrive by Howard Fradkin
Another book focusing specifically on male survivors of sexual assault, this self-help book helps survivors develop skills to help overcome their traumas and thrive in their daily lives. Designed with an empowering message in mind, this book combines stories from real survivors along with simple-to-implement skills that can help male survivors heal.
#7: Written on the Body: Letters from Trans and Non-Binary Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence edited by Lexie Bean
Transgender and non-binary people can experience high rates of sexual violence, but their stories can disappear in literature surrounding sexual assault. This collection of letters offers a powerful anthology for these survivors, providing support, hope, and guidance. A finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, Written on the Body helps survivors reclaim their bodies through empowering narratives.
If you are recovering from the aftermath of a sexual assault, the books listed above can provide solace and support during this difficult time. You can seek justice in any manner that you choose, and legal options are available to you. Contact a sexual assault attorney as soon as possible to discuss your story and strategize your next steps.