5 Free PDF Books with Themes of Overcoming Abuse

This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp. If you’ve ever experienced abuse, feeling like you have to deal with the situation by yourself can make it even more challenging. Please know that you’re never alone, and you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) anytime. Another possible way of coping and feeling less alone is reading books that talk about or show characters overcoming abuse. We’ve rounded up five titles from our free PDF library that you may enjoy.

A Terrible Secret by Cathy Glass

Based on a true story, this book follows fourteen-year-old Tilly as she places herself into foster care to escape her abusive stepfather. (For more information regarding abuse, click here.) Tilly’s new foster mother, Cathy, also has a story to share involving a life-changing decision. Part one of three, A Terrible Secret shares a message of making the right decisions, even when it’s hard. 

If You Tell by Gregg Olsen

If You Tell is the story of three sisters: Nikki, Sami, and Tori. As children, they were subjected to horrible abuse at the hands of their mother–abuse they’ve kept secret for years and years. They’ve formed a strong bond and were able to overcome all that took place during their formative years, and now, as survivors, they fight for freedom and justice.

Breaking Free by Rachel Jeffs

This memoir by Rachel Jeffs follows her journey growing up as one of the many daughters of Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed Prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As Rachel grows up, she’s determined to break free from the secretive polygamist cult she was born into. In 2015, she found the courage to leave. Today, Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence for child sexual assault. This memoir and expose offers hope for anyone searching for the strength to overcome obstacles in their own lives.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth

In this New York Times bestseller and psychological thriller, relationships are not what they seem. Thirty-year-old Vanessa realizes that the past connection she always saw as a love story was actually something entirely different. As she uncovers parallels between herself and her former professor and the present-day relationship of a young student and her English teacher, Vanessa discovers that abuse isn’t always blatant and obvious. As time goes on, she learns to accept and cope with her past.

Healing Her Heart by Laura Scott

This quick read centers on Larissa and Gabe and their budding relationship, as well as themes of domestic abuse and forgiveness. Larissa convinces Gabe to come back to the church he’d once left behind. But when the two find themselves in a situation where their lives are on the line, Gabe discovers that not only can Larissa help him, but he can also help her heal and learn to forgive. 

A Final Note

We hope that anyone who has experienced or is currently experiencing abuse is aware of the resources that are available to help. Feel free to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline anytime at 1.800.799.7233, and consider reaching out to a mental health professional so that you can work through your experiences and discover healthy and effective ways to cope. Even if you can’t find a counselor in your area, online counseling is always an affordable and accessible option. Happy reading, and we hope our selected titles help you feel seen and understood.


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