Victim/Survivor Experience/Awareness Issues

Further Reading for Victim/Survivors & Facilitators

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Bartholomew, Therese. Coffee Shop God [a sister’s story of her and her family’s struggle following her brother’s murder in 2003], CPCC Press, 2009.

Therese’s brother and best friend, Steve, went on a business trip. He never came home. Steve was shot and killed in a Greenville, SC parking lot after an argument with a complete stranger went too far. From disbelief and anger to grief and acceptance, six years later, Therese’s journey is just beginning. Coffee Shop God will inspire forgiveness and healing in us all.   Survivor Story.
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Davis, R.C., Lurigio, A.J., and Herman, J. (Editors). Victims of Crime [a broad study of victimization and its impacts], Fourth Edition, Sage, 2012.

These papers focus on patterns of victimization, psychological victimization effects, victims rights, victim services, and the criminal justice system’s response to victims.  Individual papers examine trends and patterns of criminal victimization in the United States, the impacts on victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, the victimization of children and youth, and how victims come to terms with the sudden and traumatic death of a spouse or child. Further papers examine hate crime victimization in the United States, present the findings of a longitudinal study on psychological impacts of victimization, and discuss the concept of victims as principal actors in criminal transactions and the implications of this concept for victim services and crime prevention. Other papers explore violence prevention through victim assistance, the development and current nature of the victims’ movement, victim services in Europe, victim participation in the criminal justice system, restitution, victim-offender reconciliation, victim compensation, and victim policy that produces healing rather than suffering.  Figures, tables, chapter reference lists, and index. The first edition was published in 1990, was updated in 1997, and a third edition published in 2007. This 2012 fourth edition has been fully updated to reflect more recent trends.
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Derksen, Wilma. Have You Seen Candace? [a mother’s story of her daughter’s abduction and murder in 1984], Amity, 2002.

This book spans the events and learnings of one year, beginning with the day that Candace disappeared and ending with the anniversary of that day.  The story reveals the earnest goodwill of a supportive community, the life of an average family, the horror of the aftermath of murder, and the way one family tried to cope.  Wilma Derksen is Director of Victim’s Voice, a national Canadian program of Mennonite Central Committee Canada that assists people impacted by homicide and violent crime.  Survivor Story.

Derksen, Wilma. Confronting the Horror: The Aftermath of Violence, Amity, 2002.

Written by a victim/survivor,  this book follows the victim’s journey through the 15 elements of serious crime.   The book organizes the crime victim detour into stages and elements that most victims will encounter. Each chapter begins with a story to introduce the element, followed by a description of the element, the underlying reasons for it, the consequences and then practical helps for dealing with the element.  Written especially for victims of crime, their friends, and family, and service providers.

Gibson, Gregory. Gone Boy: A Walkabout [the murder of the author’s college-age son], Anchor, 2000.

When Greg Gibson’s oldest son, Galen–eighteen, bright, unique, full of promise–was shot and killed by a fellow student at his school, Gibson found himself undertaking an unusual, highly personal investigation to discover the truth about his son’s murder.  He felt he owed it to his son, and he knew the process would help save his own sanity.  Gibson’s journey begins with a visit to the man who sold the killer the gun and builds to an astonishing interview with the killer’s parents–hardworking Taiwanese immigrants as anguished as the Gibsons about their own “gone boy.”  Along the way, he meets investigators, lawyers, psychiatrists, conspiracy theorists, bureaucrats, and more than a few lost souls.  Survivor Story.

Gobodo-Madzikila, Pumla. A Human Being Died That Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness, Houghton Mifflin, 2003.

A clinical psychologist, professor, and member of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) describes how she met in a maximum security prison with Eugene de Kock, the notorious commander of apartheid death squads.  She explores how “good church going people” can do the most horrible acts, and what forgiveness means in this circumstance.  She was one of nineteen people on South Africa’s TRC, and her interviews with  de Kock left her so unsettled, she felt compelled to write this book.  In addition, Gobodo-Madzikla weaves in stories of victims and other criminals on both sides of the racial barrier, who she met while serving on the commission.

Hanscombe, Andre. The Last Thursday in July: The Story of Those Left Behind [the murder of the author’s wife, the mother of their two-year-old son], Century, U.K., 1996.

Andre Hanscombe, the author, was the partner of Rachel Nickell who was brutally murdered in the summer of 1992 on Wimbledon Common in the presence of her 3-yr. old son, Alex. Andre, was also the father Alex. Andre shares how he was propelled into taking full responsibility for the young child’s upbringing, whilst under the intense scrutiny of the media, and having to come to terms with his grief.  Survivor Story.

Herman, Judith Lewis. Father-Daughter Incest, Harvard University, 2000.

Through an intensive clinical study of forty incest victims and numerous interviews with professionals in mental health, child protection, and law enforcement, Judith Herman develops a composite picture of the incestuous family. In a new afterword written especially for this edition, Herman offers a lucid and thorough overview of the knowledge that has developed about incest and other forms of sexual abuse since this book was first published. Reviewing the extensive research literature that demonstrates the validity of incest survivors’ sometimes repressed and recovered memories, she convincingly challenges the rhetoric and methods of the backlash movement against incest survivors, and the concerted attempt to deny the events they find the courage to describe.

Herman, Judith Lewis. Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, Basic, 2015.

When Trauma and Recovery was first published in 1992, it was hailed as a groundbreaking work. In the intervening years, it has become the basic text for understanding trauma survivors. By placing individual experience in a broader political frame, Judith Herman argues that psychological trauma can be understood only in a social context. Drawing on her own research on incest, as well as on a vast literature on combat veterans and victims of political terror, she shows surprising parallels between private horrors like child abuse and public horrors like war. A new epilogue reviews what has changed–and what has not changed–over two decades. Trauma and Recovery is essential reading for anyone who seeks to understand how we heal and are healed.


Herman, Judith Lewis.  Truth and repair : How Trauma Survivors Envision Justice, Basic, 2015.

Renowned trauma expert Judith L. Herman argues that the first step toward a better form of justice is simply to ask survivors what would make things as right as possible for them. In Truth and Repair, she commits the radical act of listening to survivors. Recounting their stories, she offers an alternative vision of justice as healing for survivors and their communities. Deeply researched and compassionately told, Truth and Repair envisions a new path to justice for all.  The #MeToo movement brought worldwide attention to sexual violence, but while the media focused on the fates of a few notorious predators who were put on trial, we heard far less about the outcomes of those trials for the survivors of their abuse. The conventional retributive process fails to serve most survivors; it was never designed for them.

Moreland, Lesley. An Ordinary Murder [a mother’s story of a daughter’s murder, and a meeting with the murderer], Aurum Press, U.K., 2002.

On Friday 2 February 1990, while Lesley Moreland and her husband were eating their evening meal, the doorbell rang. It was the police. They told the Morelands that their daughter Ruth was dead. She had been murdered. This is Lesley Moreland’s extraordinary account of what happened to her and her family in the weeks, months and years that followed. She describes with painful honesty the visit to see Ruth’s body in the mortuary, the funeral, the efforts to obtain the facts about how Ruth died, and the trial. And she writes about her own need to meet the man who took Ruth’s life, and the difficult journey which eventually brought her face to face with him in prison. To learn more about the other side of murder, she embarked on a correspondence with a prisoner on Death Row in Texas and develops a close friendship with him. With a list of Further Reading and Useful Organizations.  Survivor Story.

Neiderbach, Shelley. Invisible Wounds: Crime Victims Speak, Harrington Park, 1986.

This book contains actual transcripts of interviews with crime victims as they explain the violations against them–their recollections of the assault itself and their feelings afterward. Their stories provide insights into the acute and profound trauma that crime victimization evokes.  Readers can feel the terror and anger experienced by crime victims as they read accounts of therapy sessions at New York City’s Crime Victims’ Counseling Services, the first group therapy services for crime victims of its kind. The helping and healing processes are a catharsis for the victim–and powerful reading for all.

O’Hara, Kathleen. A Grief Like No Other [a mother’s story of a son’s murder.], Marlowe & Co., 2006.

Violent death—which includes suicide, drug overdose, and death by vehicular homicide and drunk drivers—brings to survivors a different kind of grief.  From intense feelings of guilt, anger and PTSD, to years spent dealing with legal ramifications, those left behind in the wake of violence have to contend with unique circumstances that are different from a “natural” death.  Kathleen O’Hara knows both sides of this coin. As a therapist, she has counseled hundreds of people dealing with grief; as a mother, she saw her worst fears realized when her college-aged son, Aaron, was brutally murdered on Memorial Day, 1999. In the aftermath of his death, she developed the seven-stage journey that is at the heart of A Grief Like No Other.  O’Hara offers concrete, practical, and compassionate steps for those who are grieving, allowing family and friends safe passage through this incredibly harrowing journey.

Pagelow, Mildred. Women Battering: Victims and Their Experiences, Sage, 1981.

Mildred Daley Pagelow draws from the largest existing sample of women battering victims and records their experiences and perceptions of those experiences. She integrates this material into a larger theoretical framework, challenging current myths about woman-battering.

Sharp, Debra Puglisi. Shattered: Reclaiming a Life Torn Apart by Violence, Atria, 2003.

Shattered represents one woman’s attempts to make sense of a senseless crime. In April 1998, this wife, nurse, and mother of teenage twins was tending the roses in her garden when a factory worker with a cocaine habit  slipped through an open back door—a door Debra usually kept locked— and waited for her to come in.  Nino, her husband of twenty-five years, got in the way and was shot.  The man then attacked and raped Debra, placed her in the trunk of his car, and drove away. Debra was kept tied-up in her abductor’s house for five excruciating days.  She learned of her beloved husband’s murder from a report on the radio that the man blared to muffle her screams while he was out.  After five days, Debra’s mounting rage at her captor — and the wrenching thought of her children burying their father alone — gave her the courage and strength she desperately needed. She loosened her ties, got to the phone … and dialed 911.  Struggling to heal from her ordeal and the devastating loss of her husband, Debra also had to endure an agonizing court trial, the raw grief of her children, and her own crippling fear. But through her work in hospice care and as an advocate for victims of violence and trauma, she has slowly discovered the measure of her own strength.

Skogan, Wesley G., and Maxfield, Michael. Coping With Crime: Individual and Neighborhood Reactions, Sage, 1981.

Interviews with citizens, local businessmen, police officers, and community leaders in 10 study neighborhoods were conducted in the late seventies/early eighties, along with citywide telephone interviews and content analysis of 11,475 crime-related newspaper stories. The purpose was to determine how people learned about and reacted to crime.  In addition, researchers investigated actual rates of victimization and vulnerability to crime using data from the interviews and from victimization surveys conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. Several behavioral responses to fear of crime were analyzed: taking personal precautions and protecting the household, involving oneself in community crime prevention activities, and moving to the suburbs. The study found that victimization, vulnerability, vicarious experience, and neighborhood conditions were significant correlates of fear. It was hypothesized that several factors would motivate precautionary and protective measures against crime. However, although fear of crime and neighborhood integration were consistently linked to this behavior, vulnerability to victimization, knowledge of local crime, and concern about crime-related conditions did not appear to be related to crime-reduction efforts or were related in unexpected ways.  Recommendations are made based on these findings. Study data, about 200 references, and an index are provided.

Terr, Lenore. Too Scared to Cry: How Trauma Affects Children… and Ultimately Us All, Basic, 1994.

In 1976 twenty-six California children were kidnapped from their school bus and later buried in a make shift hole for motives never explained.  All the children survived. This strange event signaled the beginning of Lenore Terr’s landmark study on the effect of trauma on children.  In this book, Terr deeply explores the emotions of childhood psychic  trauma,  the mental work of childhood psychic trauma. and the behaviors of childhood trauma , with closing chapters on treatment.  It offers a unique perspective on the trauma of every human.

Terr, Lenore. Unchained Memories: True Stories of Traumatic Memories, Lost and Found, Basic, 1995.

Can a long-forgotten memory of a horrible event suddenly resurface years later? How can we know whether a memory is true or false? Seven spellbinding cases shed light on why it is rare for a reclaimed memory to be wholly false. Here are unforgettable true stories of what happens when people remember what they’ve tried to forget—plus one case of genuine false memory. In the best detective-story fashion, using her insights as a psychiatrist and the latest research on the mind and the brain, Lenore Terr helps us separate truth from fiction.

Thamm, Marianne. I Have Life: Alison s Journey [the rape and attempted brutal murder of this survivor], Penguin (South Africa) 1998.

When two men stepped out of the darkness, Alison’s nightmare journey began with the two callous killers who were to rape her, stab her so many times doctors could not count the wounds, slit her throat and leave her for dead in a filthy clearing, miles from the city of Port Elizabeth which was her home.  Alison defied death.  And more than that, she denied her attackers the satisfaction of destroying her life.  The courage which allowed her to move beyond severe physical and emotional trauma and to turn a devastating experience into something life-affirming and strong, has been an inspiration to people everywhere.   Survivor Story (author not the victim/survivor).
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Zehr, Howard. Transcending: Reflections of Crime Victims. Good Books, 2001.

Are victims of crime destined to have the rest of their lives shaped by the crimes they’ve experienced? — “What happened to the road map for living the rest of my life?” asks a woman whose mother was murdered.  Will victims of crime always be bystanders in the justice system? — “We’re having a problem forgiving the judge and the system,” says the father of a young man killed in prison.  Is it possible for anyone to transcend such a comprehensively destructive, identity altering occurrence?– “I thought, I’m going to run until I’m not angry anymore,” expresses a woman who was assaulted.  Howard Zehr presents the portraits and stories of 39 victims of violent crime.  Many of these people were twice-wounded: once at the hands of an assailant; the second time by the courts, where there is no legal provision for a victim’s participation. “My hope,” says Zehr, “is that this book might hand down a rope to others who have experienced such tragedies and traumas, and that it might allow all who read it to live on the healing edge.”

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