April Is Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Recommended YA Reading

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a topic that is very near and very dear to my heart.

Those of you who know me well know that when I am not living on the internet or making videos about my TBR and Interrobangs know that by day I work for a rape crisis agency as educator. I travel around and teach kids about healthy and unhealthy relationships and what to do if they are assaulted. When I’m not teaching, I answer the phones, I answer the hotline. I’m on call a few times a month, to serve as a rape crisis counselor should someone be assaulted outside of the 8-5 time frame.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month Ribbon and Recommended Reading

Did you know that 1 in 4 women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime? Or that 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused by the time they turn 18? To me, these statistics are unacceptable. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted.

Sometimes my work world and my book world converge, like when I’m reading a book and there happens to be a sexual assault depicted or relationship violence converge. I end up putting on my educator hat when reading and considering my review. One of my blogging friends got me thinking the other day of things I could do to raise more awareness, and one was to blog about the issue and about some recommended reads.

You see, I believe strongly in the power of bibliotherapy. And yes, it is actually a thing. Basically, bibliotherapy in a nutshell is where you read a book about a character who is going through something similar to you in order to not feel so alone and to help you process your traumatic experience.

But, I also strongly believe in the power of books to cultivate empathy. I think it’s harder to victim blame when you’ve been in the head of a character whose been assaulted. I guess reading makes me a more compassionate person, and I hope it makes you one as well.

Not sure where to start?

Here’s some books with themes of sexual assault:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson*
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney*
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eager*
You Against Me by Jenny Downham as recommended by Shanyn
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers*
Crank by Ellen Hopkins*
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott*
Such A Pretty Girl by Laura Weiss
One Lonely Degree by CK Kelly Martin
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson (sexual harassment)
Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Charltas
Lark by Tracey Porter
The Earth, My Butt And Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins as recommended by Shanyn
Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

*means I have read the book

A few ending tips that I absolutely need to write:

  • If you are assaulted, please tell someone. There are confidential hotlines all over the US. Please, please speak to a professional. We can get you counseling, we can help you fill out crime victims compensation applications. We can provide advocacy.
  • If someone discloses to you that they have been assaulted, please believe them. Please don’t ask them what they were wearing or what they were drinking. All that matters is lack of enthusiastic consent.
  • Rape is NEVER the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter what the victim was wearing. It doesn’t matter what the victim was drinking. It doesn’t matter what the victim’s sexual history is.
  • From a training I went to: Believe that rape, abuse, and stalking are unacceptable and say it out loud.
  • Speak up when you hear sexist language or jokes. It’s not acceptable.
  • If you are concerned about your friend’s safety, please check in with them.

You honestly don’t have to do everything, but I truly believe we can all do something to help victims and shift the norms so that we place blame on the perpetrator.

Any books you would recommend to raise sexual assault awareness?

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is 27 years old and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. In her free time she can be found reading, working out, or eating junk food. She often wears her sunglasses at night.

Comments

  1. Drowning Instinct has statutory rape.

    That’s a great list. I need to read more off these on a day when I want to bawl my eyes out.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted..Waiting on Wednesday (3)My Profile

  2. Bibliotherapy. I had no idea such a thing had a name, but yes, I totally get it. Thanks for the informative post:)

  3. April, I think it’s great that you’re creating awareness and encouraging bibliotherapy through these recommendations.
    Chachic recently posted..New Releases and Older TitlesMy Profile

  4. Thank you so much for the post. I am wondering if you have any opinions about some of the backlash that some YA books (the Twilight saga springs to mind immediately) have been getting for presenting unhealthy relationship models as normal and romantic (ie boyfriend stalking you, breaking into your room, etc).

    Thanks for your thoughts,
    Anya
    Anya recently posted..Ms., Mr., and Dr. RantMy Profile

    • Honestly, I think that the backlash raises good points and sort of generates thinking about what is and is not acceptable in a relationship, but also points about differentiating fiction and what is acceptable there from what is acceptable in real life.

  5. Even though it’s fantasy (and a fairy tale retelling) I recommend Robin McKinley’s DEERSKIN. Powerful and beautiful and very much to do with healing.
    Angie recently posted..To Notebook or Not to Notebook . . .My Profile

  6. Emily Woodhouse says:

    Hi April that’s a nice informative article. It’ll be helpful for a woman to understand her rights. Also I hope it’ll create awareness among both men & women. Thanks so much mate.
    Emily Woodhouse recently posted..Flirting Tips for GuysMy Profile

  7. This is an excellent post, April. A couple of my students in my YA Lit class are focusing on this topic for their project, so I’m definitely showing them this list so they can find more books to read. I think you could add Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers and maybe Stolen by Lucy Christopher (I haven’t read it to know for sure). Sold by Patricia McCormick is another important book to add to your list.
    Sarah @ Y.A. Love recently posted..Review: The List by Siobhan VivianMy Profile

  8. I didn’t know you did this but what a powerful job and a really important post. It’s so scary that sexual assault is so prevalent and frankly, touches everyone’s lives. I don’t think I know a woman who doesn’t know someone who has not lived through something like this.

    Great list of resources!

  9. Oh wow, I didn’t know that’s what you did. I knew you were an educator, but that’s about it. This just furthers my knowledge of what a great person you are.

    I also strongly believe in the power of bibliotherapy. I’ll admit, I didn’t know there was a name for it, but it truely does help! When my husband and I lost our on, coming up on six years now, I found reading to be my savior. Long story short, he was sick, and we were faced with the decision of doing a 2nd trimester termination. Granted, that’s not sexual abuse, but I found comfort in reading other peoples stories.. what they went through, how they felt, how they coped. How they were doing now. It was a rough time, and no councelor could tell me it would get better, but reading real stories of women who went through it, and have healthy babies later on.. that’s what truly helped me come to terms.

    So I think this list, this post.. you are amazing. I hope girls going through sexual abuse find this and pick up one of those books, because reading about things, really hellps. And I’m gonna throw some on my reading list too. just for the hell of it.
    April recently posted..REVIEW- Breathe (Sea Breeze #1) by Abbi GlinesMy Profile

    • I’m really sorry you went through that. :-(\

      Isn’t it amazing? The power of books, I mean.

      • ya know, I appreciate what I have now a million times more. going through stuff like that, it’s what shapes us.

        and yes, very amazing. I was so nervous during my pregnancy with Aubrey, thank you so much harry potter.. I read the whole series throughout my first and second trimester. kept my mind off things. :o)

        books are so wonderful. *happy sigh*

  10. I’m totally with you on Bibliotherapy. It is definitely something I believe strongly in.

    This is a really great list and an amazing post. I read Speak when I was a teenager and I am hard pressed to think of a book that touched me more. Though I wasn’t sexually assaulted as a teen I had a number of good friends who were and it definitely helped me wrap my head around what was going on and what they might possibly be going through.
    Christa @ Hooked on Books recently posted..Book Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin WassermanMy Profile

  11. Fantastic post! Thank you for posting this list and for raising awareness. I think there are many girls and women out there who may feel alone or ashamed and may not even talk to anyone about what happened to them. I hope your list helps. I am glad that you point out that it is never the victim’s fault. Sometimes people have this false idea that a victim was asking for it in some way or that it happened because they weren’t careful enough.

    I would like to suggest one book to add: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, which deals with attempted date rape.
    Christina T recently posted..J.K. Rowling’s New BookMy Profile

    • I will have to add Just Listen to the list.

      Shame is a pretty common reaction for sexual assault survivors, and it’s unfortunate that they are afraid to talk about it. And I just hate that it seems like the victim is on trial and to blame as much as the perpetrator, when we all know clothes and drinking are not consent.

  12. April, I absolutely love you for making this post! I knew that you were an educator, but I didn’t know the details of exactly what you educate about, and let me just say that I admire you so much because of it. I agree with you 100% that bibliotherapy is awesome, and you’ve put together a fantastic list. I’d also recommend 13 Reasons Why which deals with sexual assault and witnessing rape; Hannah may deal with these things in a very un-recommended way, but I think people reading it can see the potential for a different route.
    Heidi recently posted..Review: Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Brendan Halpin and Emily FranklinMy Profile

    • Thanks Heidi.

      I’ve read 13 Reasons Why, but somehow missed adding it to the list, I definitely will add it. And I think that 13 Reasons Why shows that maybe if we do witness these things or have the opportunity to step in, we should, otherwise it might haunt you like it did Hannah.

  13. Awesome read.

  14. My novel, CHOICES, tackles the teen sex issue and it includes an acqaintance rape. I felt bad as I wrote it and today I still feel bad for the character whose virginity was stolen. But, sadly, rape does happen. And it’s also sad that a guy will walk away as if it wasn’t rape.

    • It is sad, Katrina. I mean, it’s not only guys who rape, females do it to and males are victims as well. But, I think that consent is so essential and important and we really should emphasize that in our society.

  15. I had no idea that’s what you did, April! I have no doubt you’re making a huge difference with your work. It’s funny, I’ve been following you on Twitter all this time, but I happened across your link to this post while searching Pinterest for “Sexual Assualt Awareness Month”. I was scrolling through and recognized your photo. Funny how things work out sometimes.

    I’ve read many of the books on your list, but not all. I’m adding them now.

    • Thanks Alina. Yeah, I let people know I’m an educator, and if they ask of what I tell them, but usually leave it at that.

      And yes, lol what an interesting coincidence!

      There’s a few I haven’t read on the list, but were recommended by friends or library thing, I am definitely going to read them as well.

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