Growing Beyond Emotional Abuse

Resources for
Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse

Best Books for Adult Children of Abusive Parents

Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life
by Dr. Susan Forward

Are you the child of toxic parents?

When you were a child...

* Did your parents tell you you were bad or worthless?
* Did your parents use physical pain to discipline you?
* Did you have to take care of your parents because of their problems?
* Were you often frightened of your parents?
* Did your parents do anything to you that had to be kept secret?

Now that youíre an adult...

* Do your parents still treat you as if you were a child?
* Do you have intense emotional or physical reactions after spending time with your parents?
* Do your parents control you with threats or guilt? Do they manipulate you with money?
* Do you feel that no matter what you do, itís never good enough for your parents?

In this remarkable self-help guide, Dr. Susan Forward draws on case histories and the real-life voices of adult children of toxic parents to help you free yourself from the frustrating patterns of your relationship with your parents ó and discover a new world of self-confidence, inner strength, and emotional independence.


Susan Forward, Ph.D., is an internationally renowned therapist, lecturer, and author of the number one New York Times bestsellers Toxic Parents and Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them, as well as Betrayal of Innocence: Incest and Its Devastation, Money Demons, Emotional Blackmail, When Your Lover Is a Liar, and Toxic In-Laws.

In addition to her private practice, for five years she hosted a daily ABC talk-radio program. She has also served widely as a group therapist, instructor, and consultant in many southern California medical and psychiatric facilities, and she formed the first private sexual abuse treatment center in California. She lives in Los Angeles and has two grown children.

The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What to do When a Parent's Love Rules Your Life
by Dr. Patricia Love

From Dr. Patricia Love, a ground-breaking work that identifies, explores and treats the harmful effects that emotionally and psychologically invasive parents have on their children, and provides a program for overcoming the chronic problems that can result.

Do these "endearments" sound familiar to you?

* "Of all my children, I expected the most of you."

* "You've never caused me a minute of trouble."

* "You're the only one who truly understands me."

If so, you may have been a "Chosen Child," seemingly the focus of loving and devoted parents, but in reality a child walking a psychological tightrope -- learning early on to deny your own needs in order to meet the emotional needs of a parent. Today, there is a name for this devastaing and increasingly common form of child abuse: emotional incest.

Here, Dr. Patricia Love offers adults real hope -- and help in overcoming the hurtful legacy of being a Chosen Child. Based on proven therapeutic techniques and using real-life case histories, her total program of recovery will help you:

* identify the telltale signs of emotional incest
* confront your parents -- and your past -- with love and understanding
* disentangle your life from theirs -- even if your
          parents are no longer alive
* create a positive relationship with your parents --
          and your own children

Filled with hope and compassion, The Emotional Incest Syndrome is a life-transforming guide to health and healing for all Chosen Children and the people who love them.

Adult Children of Abusive Parents: A Healing Program for Those Who Have Been Physically, Sexually, or Emotionally Abused
by Steven Farmer

A history of a childhood abuse is not a life sentence. Here is hope, healing, and a chance to recover the self lost in childhood. Drawing on his extensive work with Adult Children, and on his own experience as a survivor of emotional neglect, therapist Steven Farmer demonstrates that through exercises and journal work, his program can help lead you through grieving your lost childhood, to become your own parent, and integrate the healing aspects of spiritual, physical, and emotional recovery into your adult life.


The violent forms of child abuse that make headlines are not the only ones that leave lifelong scars. A child who grows up in an unstable environment where empathy, clear boundaries and trust are lacking, can end up living a ravaged adulthood. Children can be crippled by mixed messages, family secrets and reversed parent-child roles. Many victims of these practices are not even sure their childhood was abusive. This balanced, practical guide delineates traits of abusive families. Narrative vignettes in each section illustrate and personalize critical issues. Most valuable is the step-by-step self-help program that includes exercises and journal work for recovery.

If You Had Controlling Parents: How to Make Peace with Your Past and Take Your Place in the World
by Dan Neuharth

Do you sometimes feel as if you are living your life to please others? Do you give other people the benefit of the doubt but second-guess yourself? Do you struggle with perfectionism, anxiety, lack of confidence, emotional emptiness, or eating disorders? In your intimate relationships, have you found it difficult to get close without losing your sense of self?

If so, you may be among the fifteen million adults in the United States who were raised with unhealthy parental control. In this groundbreaking bestseller by accomplished family therapist Dan Neuharth, Ph.D., you'll discover whether your parents controlled eating, appearance, speech, decisions, feelings, social life, and other aspects of your childhood--and whether that control may underlie problems you still struggle with in adulthood. Packed with inspiring case studies and dozens of practical suggestions, this book shows you how to leave home emotionally so you can improve assertiveness, boundaries, and confidence, quiet you "inner critics," and bring more balance to your moods and relationships. Offering compassion, not blame, Dr. Neuharth helps you make peace with your past and avoid overcontrolling your children and other loved ones.


As Edmund Burke said, "The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse." This is sometimes excruciatingly true with parents. There are the typically anxious ones who get a little uptight about letting their teenagers borrow the car, and then there are the rigid kinds who won't even let their kids leave the house when they want to--or even eat or go to the bathroom when they need to.

Written for the 14 million adult children who've survived an upbringing with the latter type of parents, If You Had Controlling Parents takes the classic Toxic Parents to a new level. Author Dan Neuharth, Ph.D., a family therapist, knows his subject thoroughly; he survived a childhood with a father who has the candor to refer to himself as "an S.O.B."

Neuharth says, "If your parents controlled you in unhealthy ways, they may have planted land mines in your psyche." Research shows that behaviors and traits exhibited by adult children of controlling parents include the following: depression, low self-esteem, distorted self-image, eating disorders and other addictions, stress-related health problems, inability to sustain an intimate relationship, and more. While this may seem like a heavy lot to handle, Neuharth maintains there's always hope of overcoming the past and changing yourself--even if it means making the drastic move of cutting off contact with one or both of your parents.

He gives a lengthy self-test to determine if your parents were controlling; gives profiles of eight typical styles of controlling parents to help you better recognize how you may be presently affected by your upbringing; and then delves into the process of understanding why your parents acted the way they did in order to start healing emotionally. This is especially important, he says, if you now have children of your own and want to stop the damaging cycle of parental control. He doesn't give a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all recovery plan, but rather suggests several "paths to healing" and exercises to help you, as he terms it, "emotionally leave home." The book's subtitle--"A Guide for Letting Go of Anxiety, Self-Blame and Perfectionism and Improving Assertiveness, Boundaries and Confidence"--says it all. This is self-help at its best.

Surviving a Borderline Parent: How to Heal Your Childhood Wounds & Build Trust, Boundaries, and Self-Esteem
by Kimberlee Roth

Although relatively common, Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, is often overlooked or misdiagnosed by therapists and clinicians and denied by those who suffer from it.

Symptoms of this tragic problem include unpredictability, violence and uncontrollable anger, deep depression and self-abuse. Parents with BPD are often unable to provide for the basic physical and emotional needs of their children. In an ironic and painful role reversal, BPD parents can actually raise children to be their caretakers. They may burden even very young children with adult responsibilities. They tend to demand unreasonable levels of emotional and material support from those least able to provide it. Plagued by irrational fears and anxieties, BPD parents often transfer feelings of self-hatred onto their children. salting the wounds inflicted by their insatiable need with constant denigration and abuse.

If you were raised by a BPD parent, your childhood was a volatile and painful time. This book, the first written specifically for children of borderline parents, offers step-by-step guidance to understanding and overcoming the lasting effects of being raised by a person suffering from this disorder. Learn what psychological criteria are necessary for a BPD diagnosis and identify the specific characteristics your parent presents. Discover specific coping strategies for dealing with issues common to children of borderline parents: low self-esteem, lack of trust, guilt, and hypersensitivity. Make the major decision whether to confront your parent about his or her condition.

Books for Adult Children of Abusive Parents
Books for Adults with Abusive Partners
Books on Emotional Manipulation, Controlling Behavior and
Emotional Abuse in Various Relationships
Books on Verbal Abuse