Here are my ten favorite books that deal with sexual assault and sex trafficking. What book has helped you on your journey?
1. Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault by Justin and Lindsay Holcomb
I am so glad I own this book and I would highly recommend it to anyone, whether you’ve experienced abuse or not. It includes basic information about sexual assault as well as six survivor stories which address the most common feelings experienced by male and female survivors (despair, anger, denial, distorted self-image, etc.). Each survivor’s story ends with hope; it’s so encouraging to read their stories and see the healing they’ve received. Finally, the book addresses what the Bible says about sexual assault, illustrating how God desires to take away our disgrace and bring you healing through His grace.
Again, this is one I had to own. This book is intensely heartbreaking, and hopeful all at once. Dawn Jewell spent a year traveling the globe, meeting survivors of sex trafficking and forced prostitution from nearly every continent and recording their stories. She also interviewed those people who are working to rescue and rehabilitate sex slaves. What I especially liked about this book was the breadth: in 200 pages, she addresses prostitution (male and female), sex tourism, pornography, sex trafficking, strip clubs, transvestite abuse, and much more. The survivor stories are incredibly inspiring and the resources she shares are invaluable.
3. The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today by Kevin Bales
At one point, nearly the entire text of this book was available through Google Books. I used this book as a resource for a paper I wrote on modern day slavery for my master’s. I wanted to address the common ignorance which the Western world has of sex slavery and forced labor. This book was excellent; very eye-opening. Bales looks at various forms of slavery which are prominent in the States (and nearly everywhere else), including house slaves and sex slaves. Bales was thorough in his research and provides a wealth of information for his readers.
4. The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis
This is one of the books upon which our local support group curriculum is based. It’s written by a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and her counselor. While it is written specifically for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, it has plenty of material that can be helpful to survivors of all varieties of sexual violence. A companion workbook is also available.
5. The Road of Lost Innocence: the True Story of a Cambodian Heroine by Somaly Mam
Somaly was born in Cambodia and was trafficked as a sex slave from a very young age. She managed to escape that life and has now dedicated her life to rescuing other victims. This book reads very much like a novel. The strength and love of this woman is inspiring.
Rachel was a teenage victim of commercial sexual exploitation. She fought to become free and, with help from a local church community, she found a way to escape from her pimp. Now, she tells her story and unveils the misrepresented world of pimps and prostitutes.
7. The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Dan B. Allender
Allender explores the dynamics of and the damage caused by sexual abuse upon both men and women. He also offers a section entitled, “Prerequisites for Growth” and encourages survivors to pursue healing and hope for their wounded heart. There is also a companion workbook, available in paperback and for Kindle.
8. I Said No! A Kid-to-Kid Guide to Keeping your Private Parts Private by Kimberly and Zack King
Kimberly wrote this book after her young son, Zack, had a very frightening experience at a sleepover. Co-authoring the book with his mum was a healing tool for Zack. Using her son’s own words, Kimberly created a picture book to help children understand how to escape potentially threatening sexual scenarios. The language and illustrations are kid-friendly.
9. God Made All of Me by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb
You might recognize the authors’ names from the top of the page – they are husband and wife authors of Rid of My Disgrace (and Is it My Fault: Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence). This book is kid-friendly but also filled with great information for parents. It is an easy way to talk to children about how their bodies are special. I have also recommended it to adults who want to have something short but validating to read as they process their childhood abuse.
10. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
For a much more in-depth understanding of how trauma affects the brain – and the body as a whole – this is a must read. It came recommended to me by Thomas Edward, founder of Healing Broken Men. We were both speakers at The Courage Conference in 2016 and, after he spoke, I approached him and basically asked: “What can I read to help me understand how my own body might be reacting to past trauma without me even realizing it?” This book has been beneficial to me personally and professionally. It is not light reading but you can easily approach it one chapter at a time (or even pick out the chapters which seem the most relevant to you).