Resources for healing from domestic violence?
March 25, 2013 3:14 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for books or websites that are for people after they have left their abusive partner.

I am familiar with a lot of the books that get recommended here on Ask like Why Does He Do That and The Verbally Abusive Relationship... but these books, and most of the ones I have read, deal with how to recognize that one is in an abusive relationship and why they need to leave.

So: I left, and now I am putting together a small library for the local DV shelter as a thank-you gift. I've got the staples in there, but now I am looking for resources about how to heal from domestic abuse. What books or websites did you find helpful? For the purposes of this discussion, let's pretend cost is no object.

I'm particularly interested in books that are more self-help oriented, but books that describe people's personal experience (e.g. case studies like Surviving Domestic Violence: Voices of Women who Broke Free by Elaine Weiss) are OK too.
posted by sockermom to Human Relations (3 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Healing Trauma by Peter Levine
No more frogs, no more princes. Not specifically about domestic violence, but stories of women who remade their lives at midlife.
posted by SyraCarol at 4:04 PM on March 25, 2013

I can only offer qualified recommendations, almost none DV-specific (it’s just what I happened to read and think might help), but hope they might prompt further thinking.

For me to feel better, I needed to understand the dynamic, over and over. I was not satisfied with Patricia Evan’s vaguely psychoanalytic explanation of things (but did find her books tremendously useful in terms of recognizing behaviours, & processing/planning from within, as you say). From within that framework, though, I preferred Jessica Benjamin’s Bonds of Love. Attachment theory helped a lot (I read this, but Attached has come out – have not read it yet, looks good, have seen it recommended here; it seems to include practical tips for negotiating relationships, as well as insight).

Stuff on resilience was useful. I wanted to see myself as resourceful and capable, and not forever defined by the experience. I liked the ideas in Boris Cyrulnik’s books, which are not specific to DV but do look at moving on after trauma (not sure how successful the translations are, though). Hopefully someone else has ideas on that theme, and on the possibility of adaptability and change. I know Carol Dweck’s Mindset is recommended a lot for this (did not like it myself).

On reacquainting myself with myself, Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star helped a bit. Not sure I love it, exactly (tone, bit of woo) but I think there are useful points in it (i.e. using your body as a means of rediscovering spontaneous preferences, and recognizing enduring inclinations. I thought that idea alone was great, because I was so far away from who I'd been). I think other books on self-exploration and mastery might be useful in the same way. The Artist’s Way may help people on that score, even if (maybe because) it’s ‘spiritual’. Seligman’s positive psychology resources might be another starting point.

Sorry these are not exactly what you're after!

What you are doing is wonderful.
posted by nelljie at 8:21 PM on March 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

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