Books on Domestic Violence
While there are lots of books about domestic violence, there are very few we thought were helpful for individuals who want to stop hurting the ones they love. Here are a few we recommend:
- Learning to Live Without Violence – Daniel Sonkin and Michael Durphy – This is a free and very practical workbook that addresses many of the most common and important issues a person wanting to change needs to consider: understanding what hurts others, how and when to use time-outs, complications with alcohol and drug use, how to think about counseling, building communication skills as an alternative to violence, stress reduction, handling jealousy, and more.
- Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way – Gary Chapman – A very easy to read book with practical insights and lessons completely consistent with the change process we’ve found to work. Given that rage is the pinnacle of anger, the insights and techniques for avoiding and controlling both are identical. If you read one book from this list, start with this one. Also, check out our review here.
- Changes That Heal – Henry Cloud – We talk about the wounds from the past, and this book provides a straight-forward plan to help us heal from those wounds and grow more into the person God created us to be.
- When Good Men Behave Badly – David B. Wexler – While we don’t see domestic violence or bad behavior as just a man issue (and neither does the author), this is a fantastic book that explores behavior that hurts a man and his relationships. It plainly shows the emotional wounds that cause the behavior and provides straight-forward ways to change it. We love that it is written in a way that men especially will relate to. We also love and the hopeful message that even a person behaving badly can be good inside.
- Anger: Taming the Beast – Reneau Peurifoy – A bit more of a technical read, we loved the author’s journaling process so much we’ve shared the essentials of it on our Journaling page.
- How to Control Your Anger Before It Controls You – Albert Ellis and Raymond Chip Tafrate – Another helpful book, especially for those who do harm in their angry outbursts. We like the easy-to-follow A-B-C-D formula that the authors lay out. You can find out more about this book by reading our review.
- ACT on Life Not on Anger – Georg Eifert, Matthew McKay, and John Forsyth – If your past efforts to control problem anger have not worked, this book offers a very different approach. The techniques are based on a psychological approach called acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). With ACT, we learn to accept angry feelings, commit to goals that align with what truly matters to us, and act to turn those goals into reality.
- You Don’t Have to Take it Anymore – Steven Stosny – While this book, as the title implies, is written for victims of abuse, there is a large portion of it that provides specific and practical techniques to help those who are doing the harm to stop. Books with practical help are a rare find, and this one stands out.
- The Batterer: A Psychological Profile – Donald Dutton – this book looks at the issue of attachment disorders and their connection with individuals who harm their partners. Attachment disorders are the result of parents or caretakers interacting with children in unhealthy ways, resulting in the children ending up with gaps in their emotional development. It does an excellent job linking a person’s past to their current abusive behavior for the purpose of finding a way to change.
- The Emotionally Abusive Relationship – Beverly Engel – Divided into three parts, this book does a great job of talking about 1) what abuse is and how it affects people, 2) stopping the abuse if you are being abused OR if you are the abusive partner, and 3) longer-term strategies for relationships and recovery. While it does not specifically focus on physical abuse, verbal and emotional abuse are often present in the same relationships and have much the same impact. Our favorite quote from the book that gives you a flavor of the tone: “There are no monsters here, only injured but brave individuals who are seeking to heal themselves from the bondage of their actions.”
- Wounded Boys/Heroic Men – Daniel Jay Sonkin – If you’ve asked the question, “Why am I this way” and discovered the roots of your behavior go back to your childhood (very common), this is a great book to help you start unpacking the baggage you might be carrying as a result. The link will take you to a free, on-line version of the book.
- Angry Men & The Women Who Love Them – Paul Hegstrom – This is one of the few books we found that was actually written by a man who was violent with his wife. He candidly discusses his journey, including factors from his childhood that likely led to his abusive behavior, his long-term denial of the problem, and his path to healing and restoration of his relationships.
- Broken Children, Grown Up Pain – Paul Hegstrom – This is a follow-up book to Angry Men & The Women Who Love Them with many of the same themes, although more of a general focus on how childhood wounds play out for us as adults.
- Emotional Abuse, Silent Killer of Marriage – Austin James – Another plain-spoken book about the journey from abusive to healed, written by a man who was emotionally abusive in his marriage. This self-published title highlights many of the same themes you’ll see in our material. We reviewed this book here.
- Mistakes Were Made – Caroll Tavris and Elliot Aronson – We loved this book because it explains why it is so difficult for we humans to admit mistakes and the need to change. Recognizing how our brains are working against us turns out to be the key to allowing ourselves to change. Here is a review of this book.
- The Real Win – Colt McCoy and Matt Carter – While not directly related to domestic violence, anger, or the change process away from those conditions, we think it’s good to have a vision of what real success means, what your life can be, and how faith makes a difference in the outcome. This easy to read book is co-authored by former University of Texas and current NFL quarterback Colt McCoy.
- The Purpose Driven Life – Rick Warren – Speaking of faith, there is a reason this is the best-selling book of all time (other than the Bible). It does a great job of answering fundamental questions, “Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose?” explaining how we can find meaning and purpose when living the way God created us.
Sometimes a quick read of a blog or website is really what we need. Here are some we thought were especially useful:
- 15 Common Cognitive Distortions – more about distorted thinking.
- Navigating the Criminal Justice System – The criminal justice system can be a frightening and confusing world to navigate. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, here is a resource that can help you better prepare.
Here are some that are particularly geared for men:
- MenAlive – Counselor and author Jed Diamond covers a number of topics related to emotional wounds, how they impact our lives (especially anger), and how to heal from them.
- Stand Magazine – Everyone needs inspiration and a great way to get it is to read about men who are making a difference.
- Good Men Project – Another great source of articles covering a variety of topics that are relevant to men and that inspire us to become the best version of ourselves.