Recommended Books for Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Some of the books listed are not specifically about male Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) but I, being a male, write from that perspective. I believe that we men have a lot in common with women who were sexually abused as children but as we grow into teenagers and then adults our gender affects how we deal with things. I’ve been in mixed group therapy sessions but it wasn’t until I attended a Male Survivor Weekend Of Recovery (link below) that I felt like I found my tribe.
Before I begin I want to mention a book that is not specifically related to childhood abuse issues but was nonetheless an important book in the evolution of my self-consciousness: The Gurdjieff Work by Kathleeen Riordan Speeth. At the time I felt like this book found me rather than the other way around. I was browsing the paperbacks at a small drugstore in Woods Hole, MA circa 1978–79, looking for fiction when this book caught my eye. I had never heard of Gurdjieff nor had I any interest in new age or spiritual concepts but something compelled me to buy it. I didn’t become a follower of Gurdjieff but the ideas in this book started me on a journey of self discovery through introspection.
Reach for the Rainbow: Advanced Healing of Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Lyne D. Finney, J.D., M.S.W — This is the book that started me on my healing journey from CSA. I stumbled on it by chance in the mid-90’s and I had never fully acknowledged my abuse at the time. I was in therapy dealing with relationship issues and it was this book that woke me up to the reality that I had some deep work ahead of me dealing with old trauma that I had been avoiding.
I’m not going to talk about the issue of repressed and/or recovered memories here but I will say this: I have always known I was abused but I spent most of my life avoiding thinking about it. Most of my abuse memories were not readily available to me but there was the shadow of one specific event that was always present in the dark recesses of my brain. But I simply couldn’t look at it. It took many years of therapy to prepare myself to finally face this memory, and others. The following books, in no particular order, were part of that journey.
Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood by Wayne Muller
The Invisible Wound: A New Approach to Healing Childhood Sexual Trauma by Wayne Kritsberg
Victims No Longer: Men Recovering from Incest and Other Sexual Child Abuse by Mike Lew
Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse by Mic Hunter
Rebuilding Your House of Self-Respect: Men Recovering in Group from Childhood Sexual Abuse by Tom Wilken
Come Here: A Man Overcomes the Tragic Aftermath of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Richard Berendzen (memoir)
Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A Guide and Map for Recovering from Childhood Trauma by Pete Walker — This is the book I am currently reading. I’m just getting started with it but it’s a book I wish I had found a long time ago. I have suffered from depression, social anxiety and mood swings my entire life. I have twice been diagnosed as Bipolar (Cyclothymia and Type II). This book explains how my mental struggles are directly related to my abuse and gives a name to my specific set of conditions and responses. Of all the books I have read this one is the most comforting and hope-inducing. I believe I am finally nearing the final stage of my healing journey.
Not Yet Read But On My Night Table:
The Male Survivor: The Impact of Sexual Abuse by Matthew Parynik Mendel
If the Man You Love was Abused: A Couple’s Guide to Healing by by Mariel H. Browne, R.N., PH.D, with Marlene M. Browne, Esq.
Also of Note:
There has been no greater fictional character or series that address issues of childhood abuse than the Burke series by Andrew Vachss. I have read most of these novels several times.
Of course, it goes without saying that I’ve had a lot of help in my recovery. Personal therapy as an individual, a couple and in several group settings has been key. I’m very luck to have worked with Henry Harsch, Jim Struve and Joanna Colrain (whom I continue to work with). I have also attended four Weekends of Recovery workshops organized by Men Healing.
Finally, my recovery would also not have been possible without the aid of a regular hatha yoga practice, a loving and accepting partner, and many books about Zen. Before becoming a daily formal meditator I had already spent tens of thousands of hours staring at walls or ceilings in deep contemplation of my self, which is pretty much the same thing. Some people call this Dissociation.