For Adult Survivors

On the Phoenix Foundation site our primary forum for discussion of issues and concerns relevant to adult male survivors is our video series, “On the Path.” Here we will limit ourselves to suggestions for further reading and information.

It’s worth stressing here that recovery from childhood sexual abuse is not a do-it-yourself venture. Sexual abuse takes place in secret and silences a boy, often for decades into his adult life. To recover from that experience and its consequences the survivor needs to reclaim his voice and reach out, on the one hand, to personal allies willing and able to offer their support, and on the other, to those qualified to provide professional guidance. Books offer a good place to start and can provide useful information and reassurance on a continuing basis, but unless you have no other choice, it’s best to avoid using books as part of a strategy of working in isolation. It’s the experienced therapist who will best be able to address your specific needs as an individual. That work will give you a solid basis for grounding and referencing the reading you do.

Books on sexual abuse invariably raise sensitive issues, and you may react strongly to what you read. Try to do your reading in a place where you feel safe and at a time of the day when you feel more comfortable. Do you have a partner or friend you can rely upon for support? Perhaps this ally could stay in the room with you and review what you’re reading with you. If you feel yourself becoming upset, ask for the help you need to get grounded again. And remember that you can always put the book down and return to it later. Your recovery needs to proceed at your own pace, and the smaller steps taken carefully tend to be stronger and more enduring than larger ones taken in haste.

Finally, do bear in mind that authors all have their own perspectives and opinions; a point or argument doesn’t become true – or applicable or useful to you – just because it’s in a book. If you read something with which you disagree, again, talking about it may help to resolve the problem. You may also find that an author’s overall approach troubles you. If that happens, ask yourself whether you might be better off reading something else.

That said, there are some truly great reads for you to consider, and in the next section we list a few that we would particularly like to recommend.