Reading Between the Lines with Eva: Critical Reads for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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By: Eva Monhout


Fall is here, and October is now in full swing, which means it is time to turn out attention to some October recommendations. October is National Book month among other, more crucial monthly observations such as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and National Emotional Wellness month. 

This is why for the entire month of October I want to use this column as a space to explore and recommend some books to you centralized around these differing monthly observations. We can celebrate and learn more about the importance of these monthly identifications as well as celebrate National Book Month by spending some time with our noses stuck between the pages of informative, enjoyable, and salient reads.  

To kick National Book Month off, I want to focus on one of October’s most important observations: National Domestic Violence Awareness month. Despite being in the forefront of many news articles, as well as a hot topic on social media during the month of October, issues of domestic violence are still highly misunderstood, and it is often a topic that is avoided rather than actively discussed.

By beginning to read more books that deal with the topic of domestic violence, people become engaged with the issues and encouraged to find ways to become more involved in combating them. Words, after all, are quite powerful and books are always a good starting point for anyone wishing to learn more about a topic, become more involved in a cause or simply learn more about survivors’ stories. It is my hope that readers can find some of the following books interesting, informative and influential to them on the topic of domestic violence awareness. 

Since there are so many books out there on domestic violence and domestic violence awareness, I had to be very targeted with my short list today. I shared a few reads with you in more depth that I believe are really well-written, critical reads for readers of all levels of familiarity with issues of domestic violence. I also added another, little longer list of book titles that I think leaders should explore as well but without the additional commentary. It is my hope that readers will find at least one book that interests them, start there and expand outwards from there. 

Four Critical Domestic Violence Awareness Month Reads

  1. Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft 

I think this book is a must-read because it takes the first-hand experience of the author as counselor whose work specializes in abusive men. He uses his knowledge and perspective to gain insight into how abusers think, writing the book in hopes of helping women understand signs of abusive relationships and get out of them before things grow dangerous. I think seeing things from the side of the abuser is one aspect of domestic violence that is overlooked but as Bancroft’s book proves, it is critical to see things from both angles in order to make progress and tackle domestic violence. 

  1. LGBTQ Intimate Partner Abuse by Adam M. Messinger 

Studies confirm that LGBTQ+ individuals are at a higher risk of experience intimate partner violence, and that they suffer a magnitude of complexities around this violence, which limit their abilities to get the help they need. This book, though a little dense, reviews a wide variety of literature regarding LGBTQ intimate partner violence and is a must-read for anyone especially interested in this facet of domestic violence awareness. 

  1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Possibly one of the most famous books that tackles sexual assault and domestic violence, Lolita is not only a must-read for its hauntingly accurate portrayal of a twisted pedophile’s mind. Lolita is an important book to raise awareness as to the signs of domestic violence and child abuse. I won’t lie; it is a hard to read book. I remember feeling very sick at many points in the text, BUT it is an important read for that very reason. We can’t shy away from the reality of domestic violence in all of its forms; we must address them, and Lolita does that boldly. 

  1. No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder

Journalist, Rachel Louise Snyder dismantles the many myths about domestic violence relationships in this urgent must-read. For instance, many claim that a relationship can’t possibly be that bad if the victim still is willingly to stay with their abuser; Snyder works through these societal misconceptions. Her aim is to understand the reality of domestic violence more fully as well as the implications of a society that fails to fully comprehend the scope of sexual and domestic violence.  This is a good starting read for those who want to learn more about domestic violence in general and how they can get involved and make a difference. 

Further Recommendations

  1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  2. His Favorites by Kate Walbert
  3. When Dad Hurts Mom by Lundy Bancroft
  4. My Dark Vanessa By Kate Elizabeth Russel
  5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  6. Men’s Work: How to Stop the Violence That Tears Our Lives Apart by Paul Kivel 
  7. Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence: From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror by Judith Lewis Herman
  8. Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence by Philip W. Cook
  9. License to Rape: Sexual Abuse of Wives by David Finkelhor and  Kersti Yllo
  10. October Snow by Jenna Brooks

This list is by no means comprehensive, so I encourage readers to seek out other posts on the topic as well as dive further into the world of books on the topic independently. Perhaps, one of the above books will lead you to a list containing more material on the topic. Social media is another great place to look for and share reading recommendations on the topic. Most importantly, I encourage readers to engage actively with these books: share them with others, discuss them, attend events that have to do with domestic violence awareness and mention them, etc. The more we share and talk about domestic violence the more educated we all become on its reality and what we can do to diminish it. We can all make a difference, and it should not stop after the last page of a good book; that is just a starting point, so stay involved and keep the conversation going! 

Lastly, I think it is important to share with you some resources you can use if you or someone you know is suffering from a domestic violence relationship of any nature: New Hope, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Rainn and The National Domestic Violence Hotline are all important sources for those in need.                                                                                    

As always, follow me on Goodreads at to always see what I am reading, find more of my book recommendations and connect with me in more depth about must-reads.

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