Books To Read After An Abusive Relationship

Moving on from an abusive relationship is a courageous decision that marks the beginning of a challenging, yet rewarding journey towards healing and empowerment.

Reading can play an essential role in this process, offering insights and strategies to understand the past, regain your sense of self-worth, and plan for a healthier future.

The following curated list of books can serve as a guide to help you navigate the various stages of your recovery.

The Importance of Understanding Abuse

Understanding the nature and impact of abuse is an important initial step towards healing. These books delve into different forms of abuse, helping you to better understand your experiences.

Emotional, Psychological, and Physical Abuse

Emotional, psychological, and physical abuse can take many forms, and they all leave deep wounds. Knowing the dynamics of these types of abuse can empower you to acknowledge your experiences and start the healing process.

Recommended books:

  • “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft. This book provides a comprehensive look at the mindset of abusive men, offering helpful insights to anyone who has suffered from emotional or physical abuse.
  • “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” by Patricia Evans. This book focuses on verbal abuse, helping you identify and understand this often overlooked form of abuse. It offers valuable strategies to deal with verbal abuse and regain control of your life.

Developing Self-Compassion and Rebuilding Self-Esteem

Building self-compassion and strengthening self-esteem are key aspects of recovery after leaving an abusive relationship. These recommended books aim to guide you through this process.

Impact of Abuse on Self-Esteem

Abuse can often lead to a significant drop in self-esteem as you might start questioning your self-worth. It’s crucial to recognize this impact and begin the process of rebuilding your self-esteem as a part of your healing journey.

Recommended books:

  • “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach. This book offers insights into developing self-compassion, a crucial tool for individuals who have been in abusive relationships. Brach’s teachings help you embrace your life more fully, seeing past the negative self-perceptions that can be remnants of abuse.
  • “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. In this book, Brown encourages embracing imperfections and vulnerabilities as a way to cultivate self-worth and acceptance. It can be particularly beneficial for survivors of abusive relationships, who often need to heal their self-perception and regain confidence.

Cultivating Emotional Resilience

Emotional resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as planned. Building emotional resilience is particularly important for survivors of abuse, helping them navigate the complexities of healing and empowering them to face future challenges with strength.

The Importance of Emotional Resilience in Recovery

Building emotional resilience can aid in processing trauma, dealing with negative emotions, and forging a path towards a healthier, happier future. It encourages a positive outlook and can help you to see beyond the pain of the past.

Recommended books:

  • “Emotional Agility” by Susan David. This book provides strategies to navigate life’s twists and turns with self-acceptance, clear-sightedness, and an open mind. The emotional agility concept can be particularly beneficial for survivors of abuse, aiding them in managing their emotions effectively.
  • “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. This book explores the concept of resilience and how to cultivate it in the face of adversity. Sandberg and Grant provide practical advice and personal insights that can help individuals recovering from abusive relationships find joy again.

Setting Boundaries and Asserting Oneself

Post-abuse recovery often involves learning how to set boundaries and assert oneself in relationships. This section recommends books to assist in these crucial areas.

Recognizing and Setting Healthy Boundaries

Understanding what constitutes healthy boundaries can help you protect your emotional space and promote balanced relationships in the future.

Recommended books:

  • “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. This book gives practical advice on how to establish and maintain boundaries, ensuring that you’re not overextending yourself or tolerating unacceptable behavior.

Asserting Oneself in Relationships

Assertiveness in relationships can help you communicate your needs and feelings effectively, ensuring your emotional wellbeing.

Recommended book:

  • “The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships” by Randy J. Paterson. This workbook provides strategies to improve assertiveness, enabling you to voice your needs and stand up for your rights, which is an essential step towards cultivating healthy relationships after abuse.

Thriving After Abuse: Moving On and Finding Love Again

Having faith in the possibility of healthy, loving relationships post-abuse is an essential part of recovery. The following books provide wisdom and guidance to navigate this process.

Possibility of Finding Healthy Love After an Abusive Relationship

Understanding that healthy love is attainable after surviving an abusive relationship can instill hope and strength during the recovery process.

Recommended books:

  • “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken” by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt. This book provides comfort, humor, and practical advice for anyone recovering from a breakup, including survivors of abusive relationships. It inspires hope for a better future and a healthier love.

Learning About Healthy Attachments

Grasping the concepts of attachment styles and their influence on relationships can provide insights into choosing healthier partnerships.

Recommended book:

  • “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love” by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller. This book delves into attachment theory and how it shapes our relationships. It can help survivors of abuse understand their attachment style, empowering them to form healthier relationships moving forward.

Additional Book Recommendations

To further support your healing journey, here are ten additional books, each chosen for its valuable insights and practical tools.

Books to Encourage and Inspire

  • “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou. This autobiographical book details the early years of American writer and poet Maya Angelou. It’s an inspiring testament to resilience in the face of trauma.
  • “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk. This book provides groundbreaking studies about trauma, exploring how trauma affects the body and mind and the innovative treatments to heal it.

Books on Mindfulness and Inner Peace

  • “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. This book provides insight into the practice of mindfulness and its power to change your life, beneficial for those healing from traumatic experiences.
  • “Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life” by Thich Nhat Hanh. This book offers practical advice and mindfulness exercises to help cultivate peace and happiness, even amidst difficult circumstances.

Books on Emotional Health and Healing

  • “Healing the Shame that Binds You” by John Bradshaw. This book explores the emotion of shame and how it can affect self-esteem and behavior, providing practical advice on how to overcome these effects.
  • “The Emotionally Abused Woman: Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself” by Beverly Engel. Engel offers advice to women who have been emotionally abused, helping them to recognize signs of abuse, stop blaming themselves, and start the healing process.

Books on Self-Esteem and Personal Growth

  • “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay. This self-help classic presents a comprehensive program for transforming negative beliefs and developing self-love and acceptance.
  • “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brené Brown. Brown explores the concept of vulnerability, showing how it is not a weakness but a path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection.

Books on Healthy Relationships

  • “Love’s Executioner” by Irvin D. Yalom. A collection of ten case studies drawn from Yalom’s practice, this book provides deep insights into the complexities of human relationships.
  • “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” by Dr. Sue Johnson. This book presents a new approach to understanding and improving romantic relationships, particularly useful for those looking to cultivate healthier dynamics in their relationships post-abuse.


As we reach the end of this curated list, remember that the journey to recovery is unique for every individual. These books offer a broad range of perspectives and tools to support you on your healing path, each one shedding light on important facets of recovery.

The themes of understanding abuse, rebuilding self-esteem, cultivating emotional resilience, setting boundaries, and moving on to healthier relationships are interconnected elements of your journey. Each book is a stepping stone towards a better understanding of yourself and your experiences, contributing to your overall healing and empowerment.

Remember, the courage that led you to move on from an abusive relationship can also guide you towards a future full of healing, growth, and healthy relationships.

We hope that this list serves as a helpful resource in your journey, illuminating your path towards reclaiming your life and thriving after abuse.

rj adams books

R.J. Adams

My first job was at Barnes & Noble, so books and reading have been a big part of my life for as long as I could remember. My Kindle is jam-packed with books I likely will never get around to reading and my To Be Read pile is even longer!

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