Recommended Reading Book stack

Recommended Reading List

Restoring Sanctuary

By: T. Pitt Green

This book written by one our veteran survivors is a reflection on her faith journey in healing from abuse from a predator priest. It is instructive and helpful an a compassionate and witty story. Other survivors of abuse tell us it has been helpful to their journey. This also may be helpful for priest, others who serve the church and in helping professions.

If you are unable to afford a copy of this book, please contact the Office of Victim Assistance.

My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints

 By:  Dawn Eden

Dawn Eden was born into a Jewish family in New York City; Dawn lost her faith as a teenager and became an agnostic. When Dawn was thirty-one, she experienced a dramatic conversion to Christianity that ultimately led her to enter the Catholic Church. Dawn's latest book carries an Imprimatur from Donald Cardinal Wuerl, offers a Catholic spirituality of healing for adult victims of childhood sexual abuse.

Job Translation

By: Stephen Mitchell

There are three Scripture lines worth holding in heart when reading Job. One is from Jeremiah 29:11, where the Lord promises He will hear us when we call from our exile and abject aloneness, He will listen, and He will lead us back to the happiness from where we have been exiled. It has heartened me. Another is Isaiah 30:15-18, where He comforts us, promising us our strength can lie in quiet even in the presence of evil, and that He is waiting to be gracious to us; it is a meditation on the meditative and quiet ways of God in the face of suffering Job can have little to do with forgiveness toward evil or even understanding of God until through our surrender to what is real leads us to pray for friends who could not help us in our suffering. 

Till We Have Faces

 By: C.S. Lewis

Here is one of Lewis’s least known works, a novel that is as offbeat as Screwtape Letters. This book transforms as you read into the growing light of the protagonist. This story does not disturb; it provokes and leads. A character of strong self-doubt, significant suffering and shame comes into light, love and unlikely power, the woman who writes the work begins in hatred for herself and then finds love after a personal journey.

The Untouched Key: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and   Destructiveness

 By: Alice Miller

Alice Miller is a psychiatrist and specialist in treating children who have survived trauma. Miller is a pathfinder and does have a cult following in the incest survivor reading circles. In this book, she shows the glory, the amazing part, the unseen beauty of the child who survives, and then is able to explain the plight with respect and compassion. It cuts to the core issue about why some kids who are traumatized by care takers turn into artists and resilient survivors – and others into destructive or dark forces. Miller’s first work is a corner stone for survivor groups The Drama of the Gifted Child.

Thoughts in Solitude

 By: Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton lived in the world of darkness; he emerged with simple clarity that has become a model for my own healing and prayer. It is from Part 2: II in this book that the world seems to have pulled the prayer “Do Not Know Where I Am Going.” The whole book is exactly that, it opens the reader if the reader surrenders. It is the ultimate survivor prayer. It is not about forgiveness, it is about trust. From trust in God all else can follow, in God’s time, not our time, not according to the speed demanded by people who do not like the inconvenient truth of our suffering.


By:  Philip Yancy

Rumors is a simple and, an ultimately linear exploration of the logic behind belief in God. Questioning God is a pretty sane response to having been involuntarily close to the evil that can hide in the images of what is holy. This is a good basic groundwork that got the toxins of spiritual confusion that lies in the wake of my childhood experience out of my mind and gave me real food for thought.

Making Sense Out of Suffering

By:  Peter Kreeft

Kreeft is a bestselling Catholic writer who lays out in a light-hearted way the basics of suffering, including what the Church teaches about it, but more so what   our Church experience through the ages has drawn upon as the faith whose image of God Triumphant is that of a human man hanging broken on a cross. That really is something important for survivors to remember, that image, and how incomprehensible the triumph of suffering still remains in every life.

The Cloister Walk

 By:  Kathleen Norris 

Kathleen Norris a NYT best seller shows us a spirituality order and its fellowship, and reminds the reader of something at the core of real religious practices. Norris, a married woman with fiercely fire and brimstone Protestant background, gets an “academic” interest in the ancient practice of monasticism, and ends up moving in for two long stints at St. John’s Abbey in Minnesota, living among many Benedictine monks. It is impossible not to feel safe in the presence of men in habits when they people  her book, and her reflections soften the harder edges we naturally have looking at the absurd evil related to the pedophilia scandal by drawing the view into the deepest and enduring, timeless practices among these holy celibate men.

A Grief Observed

By:  C.S. Lewis

This very short classic, sold in millions of copies every few years, lives on as his private reflections and rage at God over the loss of his wife to cancer. The book is about his rage over the betrayal he felt by God.  The story was made into the movie recently released, but these pages and their treatment of rage and the stages of grief walk our own walk, for our walk to healing is grieving.  

A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love in Scripture

 By:  Scott Hahn

Scott Hahn is one of the leading speakers and catechists of the Catholic Church now who “read” his way into Catholicism. He is an able speaker and explainer – and here is a key read on the basic reason why the wounds of a predator, any predator, and any abuser of our trust or betrayer, no matter how powerful or “right” he is seen by the rest of the world, can succeed.   

Saint Francis of Assisi

 By:  G.K. Chesterton

This is one of Chesterton’s short novels and one of the most readable. This work is an exploration of a spirituality tradition which is encompassed by the Church. The Church provides a wide and broad road where many different types of people relating to God in very individual ways are all safe. It is a road not controlled by predator priests hiding inside the holy Roman collars of good and holy priests.  Among these is this saint whose post-traumatic stress disorder evolved through many injustices and (his own and others’) stupidities – to a fool’s joy in God.   

Divine Romance

 By:  Fulton Sheen

This work invites the reader to be a fool in love with God personal. In a little work with the impact of   antimatter, in the clear cut bounding voice of Fulton Sheen, to whom Martin Sheen dedicated himself by taking the bishop’s name, an invitation to a love affair, based on triumph in intimacy with Christ through all pain, sorrow, loneliness and human failures which are reduced to, redeemed as, and suddenly manageable as part of a quest for God, to be in love every day. This book’s promises are true. Apiscopa publishes audiocassette tapes of Sheen’s talks on   suffering, and the Carmelite Church in White friar London publishes a nine day recorded retreat he did on St Therese the Little Flower and suffering.   

The Wounded Healer: In Our Own Woundedness, We Can Become a Source of Life for Others

 By:  Henri J. M. Nouwen

This book that is an answer to the What Now question after victims stop resisting their experiences. This is the path out this is the definition of freedom from suffering The book is why volunteer work is what grounds otherwise lost people and why thousands every year forgo their high level career paths to serve I is a short book because this is also classic Nouwen, pensive in a lovely way but dense in a pensive way alas Nouwen through and through.  


 By:  Dr. Fred Luskin

Dr. Luskin, a bestselling author, has studied the impact of forgiveness on the one who forgives. He explores the   physiology of unforgiveness and many physical and practical ways to forgive without enabling or repeating the cycle or ignoring the injury Luskin is a great reference, check out his website  

The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values   and Spiritual Growth

 By:  M. Scott Peck, MD

This is the grandfather of all self-help books, has been on the NYT and other best seller lists for decades at a time. Read the first two thirds you get the true basics you will find in all the millions of self-help books that  follow. A fast read Peck reminds us, over and over, of Philippians “I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.”   

Love, Medicine and Miracles

 By:  Bernie Siegel

Siegel was an atheist oncological surgeon who began to study   the impact of prayer on his patient’s recovery, then began to ask other   surgeons, particularly cardiac surgeons who happen to believe in many cases in the “broken heart” they cannot fix. Then he began to study the mind body connection and what came of   this was a passionate new mission, and it is to him that it is credited that most medical schools have courses only recently on prayer and faith in healing. Siegel travels the country and world insisting that faith and all its virtues like prayer and forgiveness are part of physical healing, which he equates with spiritual healing. It culled all the medical research and explored for the first time really the big picture on how we heal.  

Cave in The Snow: Tenzim Palmo’s Quest for Enlightenment

 By:  Vicki Mackenize

This work is a long-time NYT bestselling memoir of the first woman monk, and first American, to live for decades in a cave in the snowy peaks of the Himalayas where she dug into her soul as daily work. I have found nowhere such honesty in the nature of our spiritual struggle – with the millions who bought the book and heard her speak when she returned to the US take from her key insights into my own dark side, the “shadow” of me not just as a survivor of abuse by priests but also as a human being subjected to suffering.  

Adult Children of Alcoholics

 By:  Janet Woititz

This book can illuminate – or confine. It is useful, powerfully so, only if readers understand that the concise summaries of issues shared in common among  adult children of alcoholics are starting points for growth. They are not a lifelong sentence on anyone’s personality, and they definitely fall short of portraying the resilience, diversity and mystery of the vast numbers of people who survive childhood traumas of all kinds to be loving, caring adults.  I always wish these books came with a disclaimer, reminding readers that everyone   has experiences in life that can hobble them temporarily or permanently – and   that being hobbled does not reduce their precious value to anyone. This book must be read, then, as a door to freedom from self-loathing and a way toward healing. This book can help walk the way Christ calls a toward redemptive suffering and whole life.  

The Artist's Way 

By:  Julia Cameron

This is a fabulous book – also a major best seller for working through and moving forward out of healing into flourishing. She explores living the creative, aka aware, life.  The book is a how to, chapter by chapter building through twelve steps of self-challenge. There is a chapter on anger and the positive good uses to which it must be harnessed and used – not denied or defused.  It is a great book for people to work through to foster life changes and new levels of creative work or thinking.  

Simple Abundance

By:  Sara Ban Breathmach

Ban Breathmach explains how we resist the abundance of our lives because we see only the suffering.  

The Hound of Heaven

 By:  Francis Thomson

This book has a great guide by Robert Waldron called Poetry as Prayer: The Hound of Heaven. Find out what we survivors live – Our Lord chases us sometimes, He leads us by making us  run after what we cannot catch, and so our journey goes, our journey through   suffering to joy. This poem from the 1800s is gorgeous to read. Robert Waldron helps you through it. Waldron is comprehensible; a few lines at a time are just right as heart fare, so, go ahead, read it. This image is God as the hound of heaven, chasing us sometimes toward the good, and leading us sometimes as we chase after Him, and the delicate ways in which this chase is the nature of faith and growth.  

Relaxation Response

 By:  Herbert Benson, MD

Relaxation Response, by Herbert Benson, M.D., whose entire medical and writing opus is about how the body in rage and other states moves into a tension that kills it, and how to relax the body out of rage. In this work you can see how rage and the need to let go becomes a life’s work, not just for survivors. Best seller.     

At the Will of the Body: Reflections on Illness

 By:  Arthur Frank 

At the Will of the Body: Reflections on Illness, is a sleeper, from a fascinating perspective, an old book, a humble guy. Not only not best seller, but also a cult classic in healing circles.  

The Little Prince

 By:  Antoine de Saint- Exupery 

I cannot articulate why, but he was so alone in his journey. His sweetness is our survivors’ sweetness. He gave me permission to be myself. And to keep roses in my home.





Local Therapists Published Books

Dr. Courtois is a psychologist in private practice in Washington, DC.  Dr. Courtois has received numerous professional awards including the 1996 American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology as a Professional Practice. She has authored and edited four books: Treating Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders: An Evidence-Based Guide (2009), Recollections of Sexual Abuse: Treatment Principles and Guidelines (1999), Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: A Workshop Model (1993), and Healing the Incest Wound: Adult Survivors in Therapy (1988), in addition to numerous articles and chapters on related topics.

Dr. Eliana Gil is Director of the Gil Center for Healing and Play, located in Fairfax, VA, which provides assessment and therapeutic services to children, adolescents, adults and families. Much of their work has been with persons who have suffered significant loss and trauma. Dr. Gil has written numerous materials on child abuse and related topics and has a number of educational videotapes that feature her work. Her most recent book for a professional audience is helping abused and traumatized children: Integrating directive and nondirective approaches (2006). Other books include Cultural issues in play therapy (2006); treating abused adolescents (1996); Systemic Treatment of Families who Abuse (1995); The healing power of play (1991); Play in family therapy (1994); Treatment of adult survivors of sexual abuse (1988), and Sexualized children: Assessment and treatment of sexualized children and children who molest (1992). She has also written several popular books for lay audiences including Outgrowing the Pain (1988) and Outgrowing the Pain Together (1992). Several of her books are in other languages, including Spanish.