The book to read is not the one that thinks for you, but the one which makes you think.
Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse ask us for book recommendations that go hand in hand with what we teach at The Haven Retreat and our Five Strategies to Reclaim Hope. Below you’ll find a list of books that our clinicians have found most beneficial for survivors.
1. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
This book goes in depth about trauma in many forms, using examples from van der Kolk’s own experiences with trauma survivors. He makes the argument for not only mentally healing from trauma, but bringing a physical component into it as well.
2. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy
After the great success of her Ted Talk about power poses and their benefit in raising confidence, Cuddy explored the science behind it even further. This book is an in-depth look at what influence your body language has on you and those around you.
3. Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper
This book is an excellent resource for survivors, clinicians, and yoga instructors. It will show you the benefits behind trauma-sensitive yoga and how you can find a class to suit your needs as a survivor.
4. Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy by Francine Shapiro
If you have any interest in EMDR and the benefits it may have for you, then this book is for you. Shapiro writes in an accessible and reader-friendly way about complex topics that allows almost anyone to understand.
5. Trauma and Memory: Brain and Body in a Search for the Living Past by Peter Levine
Too often survivors wonder if their memories are accurate and if they can be trusted. Levine draws on 45 years of expertise to address this concern and give you information about how memory is constructed and how influential memories can be on your present moment.
6. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
Success is not dependent merely on abilities and talent, but on the mindset you use when thinking about them. Dweck says that with the right mindset you can motivate anyone, attain your own goals, and find success – both personally and professionally.
7. Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness by Fred Luskin
With years of study and experiences, Luskin creates a narrative about forgiveness and the benefits it will have in your life. Using real experiences and scientific backing, he gives you real steps to take in order to forgive.
8. Opening Up by Writing It Down: How Expressive Writing Improves Health and Eases Emotional Pain by James Pennebaker and Joshua Smyth
Writing is a place where many survivors are first able to break the silence about their abuse. In this book, Pennebaker and Smyth give examples, steps to take, and words of encouragement on how you can go about writing our way to healing.
It’s important to go at your own pace as you heal. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much information at once. Try reading one of these books, implementing the benefits, letting them become a habit in your life, and then moving on to another. You are the best judge of where you are in your healing journey, but these books can help illuminate the path.