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Shelf Care at The Blue Bench- October Reading List

Welcome to the Shelf Care reading list by The Blue Bench! Every month, we will curate a reading list of books showcasing powerful voices and talented storytelling. These books delve into topics related to sexual assault, sexual identity, trauma, healing, hope, community, and resilience.

The books highlighted in this month’s list deal with domestic violence for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. [TW/CW: These books may contain topics related to sexual assault, domestic violence, drug use, and others that some may find triggering]


Written On the Body: Letters from Trans and Non-Binary Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence 

by Lexie Bean and contributions from Dean Spade and Nyala Moon

                This book is an anthology written as a collection of letters that seek safety in many ways— in the body, at home, and in society. This book is written by and for trans and non-binary survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Weaving together the complex narratives of gender, identity, and abuse while still offering support and guidance to other trans and non-binary survivors of sexual violence. This book is intimately written for people finding the power to reshape their lives and their connection to their body.

Lexie Bean is a trans writer and a performer. Bean is also a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault. They are a member of RAINN National Leadership council. They have been published in Teen Vogue, Bust, Bitch Magazine, and many more and are based in New York.


The Black Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Domestic Violence: Tools to Move Beyond Trauma, Reclaim Freedom, and Create the Life you Deserve

by Shavonne J. Moore-Lobban PhD and Robyn L. Gobin PhD 

                Written by two psychologists and experts in BIPOC mental health, this book is a guide for Black women overcoming the trauma of domestic violence. This book takes a cognitive behavioral therapy approach, featuring skills of empowerment and healing— letting go of guilt and shame, trusting oneself, and building safety nets are central topics. The goal is to reclaim self-worth, set boundaries, and make room for self-care.

Shavonne J. Moore-Lobban PhD is a licensed psychologist, training director, and assistant professor in Washington, DC. Moore-Lobban specializes in mental health services for marginalized communities. Robyn Gobin PhD is a clinical psychologist and consultant with expertise in women’s mental health and interpersonal trauma.


Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival

by Kelly Sundberg

                A memoir of heartbreak and courage, this book is about redemption and transformation as Sundberg seeks to understand herself and the abuse she suffered. Her husband was a funny, warm, supportive man, and a good father— but he was also violent and vengeful. After a decade of waiting for him to change she realized that this partnership could not work. Her journey to understand herself and her marriage starts when she looks to the rural town she grew up in and understand how it shaped who she became. A harrowing yet transformative tale, this book shows a woman’s journey towards rejecting the violence of a partner who is supposed to cherish her and accept that she deserves better.

Kelly Sundberg has a PhD in creative nonfiction from Ohio University and has been published in Guernica, Gulf Coast, The Rumpus, Denver Quarterly, Slice, and other publications.


When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife  

by Meena Kandasamy

                This book describes the life of an unnamed narrator as she falls in love with a university professor, but the relationship quickly devolves into one of power and control. As he sets to reducing her to his perception of an “ideal woman” he bullies her out of academia and when she pushes back- his resolve is to use violence and rape. Abuse in public and in private, the narrator documents her abuse unflinchingly. A scathing look at traditional marriage in India, this book resonates with people all over the world across cultures.

                Meena Kandasamy is a poet, fiction writer, and activist. She lives in Chennai and London, and has two collections of poetry published, called Touch and Ms. Militancy. When I Hit You is her second novel.


Die for You

by Amy Fellner Dominy

                This YA novel depicts the decline of a teen’s relationship as it devolves from the “perfect love story” to one of toxicity, manipulation, and abuse. When their lives seemingly were crashing down, Dillon and Emma found comfort in each other. They quickly fall deeply in love, and began making plans after college. When Emma gets a different opportunity that upends their plans, she sees a different, darker side of Dillon. Emma must decide how much of herself she’s willing to lose to keep the relationship. A realistic yet suspenseful portrayal of toxic teen relationships, this book is a good read for people of all ages.

                Amy Fellner Dominy is an award-winning author of nine books spanning young adult to children’s books. She is also an MFA playwright.



by Katelin Maloney

                This book shows the struggle of an endless cycle of violence in a marriage. This story follows Rebecca, a young woman looking to make her simple dreams a reality- a promotion at work, children, and a happy marriage. However her husband Mitch, a successful doctor is violent and cruel- and his abuse is spiraling. For Rebecca to act, she must face her inner demons before Mitch can destroy her completely. A book that reveals the brainwashing effects of verbal abuse and the destruction of self that domestic abuse has on an individual- this page turner is an unforgettable drama.

                Katelin Maloney is an advocate for domestic violence for the Community Action Team for Betty Griffin House in St. Augustine Florida. She also gives lectures and writes extensively on the issue.

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