BookGood Books

Generally speaking, these books are from the 1990s, when the subject of clergy abuse was only beginning to be explored. Since 2000, many more have been published, but this remains an excellent list of older titles, both expert analyses and personal accounts.

The listed books are arranged into subject categories. The categories are:
clergy abuse dynamics and personal stories,
the Church's reaction/internal culture,
the legal aspects,
information texts
psychological healing,
partners, and
Naturally, most books include elements of other categories, but they have been classified by their main focus. Books with asterisks are Australian texts. Other books are mentioned elsewhere on this website, particularly in relation to statistics. Bookshop websites to search include,,, and (WARNING: Koorong is a Christian bookshop - do not follow this link if it is likely to trigger you). These are Australian bookstores, while overseas bookstores include ,, Powells is especially good when searching for out-of-print books. Other out-of print book searches can be done at and and

Note: If you have an interest in a particular book, it's well worth seeing if it's in Amazon's catalogue, because often they have extracts from the book, such as table of contents, index, and first few pages, on their site too, enabling you to get a preview before buying.

Where publishers' phone numbers are given, these are Australian numbers. To call from international, dial your international access code, then 61, then the number given (excluding the initial zero): eg. 02-9550 2355 becomes + 61 2 9550 2355.

ALL these books come highly recommended by clergy abuse victims. There are many more books out there that may well be just as helpful - these are ones that victims have specifically recommended in support groups or to me.


Clergy abuse - dynamics, personal stories

* When Ministers Sin - Neil and Thea Ormerod. Millennium Books 1995. Publisher's phone number: Australia 02-9550 2355 Covers in detail the issues surrounding clergy sexual abuse, and includes six case studies to illustrate various scenarios. An excellent and comprehensive overview of the topic.

* In the Shadow of the Cross - Bruce Blyth. P&B Press 1998. Publisher's phone number: Australia 08-9450 2513 Tells the story of VOICES' battle for justice against the Christian Brothers in Western Australia.

* Breaking Through - Cathy Ann Matthews. Strand Publishing. Currently out of print. The autobiographical story of a clergy sexual abuse victim.

* The Australian Paedophile and Sex Offender Index - Deborah Coddington, 1997. ISBN 0908578660. A list of Australians convicted of sex offences. Unfortunately quite hard to find now. Regular searches through may turn up a copy. Books-a-Million also might have a copy, but prices are not cheap and in American dollars.

Is Nothing Sacred? - Marie Fortune. Harper San Francisco 1989. Subtitled "The Story of a Pastor, the Women He Sexually Abused, and the Congregation He Nearly Destroyed", its title speaks for itself. Marie Fortune has specialised in clergy sexual abuse, and is a recognised authority on its dynamics. This and others of her books may be helpful. Not currently available in Australia, although it can be ordered in. Try searching by surname at

Unholy Orders: Tragedy at Mount Cashel - Michael Harris. Viking Penguin, Canada. Hardcover 1990 ISBN 0670834815. Paperback 1991 includes updated information ISBN 014013929X. Currently out of print. Institutional physical and sexual abuse at a Christian Brothers orphanage in Newfoundland, Canada. The investigation into the charges revealed a cover-up at the highest level of government. Later a TV documentary.

* The Liz Mullinar Story - Liz Mullinar and Simon Hopkinson. ISBN No. 073360482X Liz Mullinar's story of the illness in her adult years that signalled repressed memories of childhood sexual assault, and the subsequent recovery and processing of those memories. Not clergy sexual abuse, but abuse by a professional. Especially useful for those dealing with repressed memories.

* The Almond Tree: Child Sexual Abuse and the Church (stories from country Victoria) - Heather McClelland. Self-published (PO Box 3 California Gully, 3556), 1995. 25 personal stories followed by the author's comments. McClelland was a pastoral counsellor in a country Victorian town and the book's conclusion has some excellent tools to aid the healing process for victims of sexual abuse.

Boys Don't Cry - Darcy Henton. McClelland and Stewart, 1996. The story of institutionalised abuse in Canada, by a photojournalist. Particularly helpful for male victims, but not for the squeamish.

Victim to Survivor: Women Recovering from Clergy Sexual Abuse - Nancy Werking Poling (ed). United Church Press, Cleveland, 1999. The six victims who tell their stories in this book chronicle six different paths through betrayal to hard won healing. It's the details in their stories that make you feel, not just think, about how terribly wrong clergy sexual abuse is. Snippets about the pastor who jokes that he could raise money for the Church by writing erotic books, before he tries to kiss the young associate he supervises, or the spiritual director who offers sacramental wine before he suggests that a young victim of incest act out her sexual fantasies with him.

Forbidden Fruit - Annie Murphy and Peter da Rosa. Warner Books, 1994. Young Annie Murphy, her marriage over, goes to Ireland looking for healing. What she finds is a secret love with Eammon Casey, who became the Bishop of Galway, Ireland. The birth of their son, her years of hardship and the publicity surrounding the 1992 disclosure of the cover-up are told in this book.
Fall from Grace: The Life of Eammon Casey - Joe Broderick. Brandon House Publishers, 1992. This short book follows Bishop Eammon Casey's work for the homeless in England, his founding a Third World development agency, and ends with the series of confrontations about his fathering a son with Annie Murphy, a woman from Connecticut. She insisted he actually meet his son, something he finally did for three minutes, assuring the 16 year old that he prayed for him twice a day.

Betrayal of the Innocents : Desire, Power, and the Catholic Church in Spain - Timothy Mitchell. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998. From the blurb: Mitchell's powerful & compelling book is the first to assess the long-term consequences of clergy sexual activity for an entire culture.

In Cabin Six: An Anthology of Poetry by Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse - Jill A Kuhn (ed.). Impact Publishers.  The title says it all, but the poems explore relationships, sexuality, self-esteem, trust, recovery and much more. Warning: Some of the language is graphic, and may be triggering. Click on the link to the publishers to read excerpts and/or order the book.

How Little We Knew: Collusion and Confusion with Sexual Misconduct - Dee Miller. Self published. ISBN: 0933451180 The author's account of her discovery of sexual misconduct by a fellow missionary, and the further betrayal that often comes from the church's reaction to disclosure. See Millerís Amazon profile for this and her other books

The Truth about Malarkey - Dee Miller. 1stBooks Library, 2000. ISBN: 1587215551. A fictional but truth-based account of a church where clergy abuse is disclosed. Miller weaves a story of denial and blaming the victim and blaming the messenger in one nondenominational congregation that could be most churches anywhere. A realistic look at the denial, ignorance and minimisation that happens so often. This book was also published as an ebook.

Habits of Sin: An Expose of Nuns Who Sexually Abuse Children and Each Other - Ashley Hill. Xlibris Corp., 2000. ISBN: 0738826146 Research and case studies of sexually abusive nuns. Both abuse of children and abuse of other nuns within convents is addressed. Extremely useful for those abused by women who need validation of their experiences.

Sister Philothea: Relationships between Women and Roman Catholic Priests - Tineke Ferwerda. SCM Press. ASIN: 033401526X. No detail, but the title sounds like it might be good. Currently out of print.


The Church's reaction/internal culture

Understanding Clergy Misconduct in Religious Systems: Scapegoating, Family Secrets and the Abuse of Power - Candace Benyei. Haworth Press, 1998. An excellent book about the structural and personal failings that lead to clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up. Available in paperback and hardcover.

Lead Us Not into Temptation - Jason Berry. Doubleday New York, 1992. A journalist's story of clergy abuse cover-up in the US, including the newspapers that refused to run his stories. Described as "accurate and restrained", it yet includes horrifying figures of numbers of abusers and their victims.

Bless Me Father For I Have Sinned: Perspectives on Sexual Abuse Committed by Roman Catholic Priests - Thomas G. Plante (editor). Praeger Pub Text, 1999 A series of essays by leading US and Canadian experts outlining a clinical perspective for professionals and clergy interested in identification, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of clergy sexual abuse. Includes profiles for determining at-risk victims.

Crime and Immorality in the Catholic Church - Emmett McLoughlin. Lyle Stuart New York, 1962. Written by a former priest, who left the priesthood rather than submit to the culture of repression, this is an extraordinary book for its time, dealing with rampant crime and immorality (including sexual immorality) in the Catholic church long before the current publicity about clergy sexual abuse. References includes canon law and texts from the ninteenth and thirteenth centuries. A treasure if you can find a copy.

Married to the Church - Raymond Hedin. Indiana University Press, 1995. Hedin's interviews with priests/classmates of his over a 5 year period: 22 current priests from the class of '69, six former priests and one preparing to leave, plus 15 more of the more than 100 seminarians who had left before ordination. A good insight into the thought patterns of priests, both active and not. One quote: "and even many of those who left the priesthood continue to adhere to the belief instilled in them in the seminary that they are 'special' people."

Slayer of the Soul: Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church - Stephen J. Rossetti. Twenty Third Publications, 1990. By a priest psychologist who claims to cure pedophiles within the church. Some victims find the book at least as sympathetic to the rapists as to their victims.

Restoring the Soul of a Church: Healing Congregations Wounded by Sexual Misconduct - Mark Laaser and Nancy Hopkins, eds. Alban Inst, 1998. ISBN: 1566991641. While some victims have questioned the integrity of some of the contributors, this book does include a couple of very useful things: the 10 conditions necessary for consideration for release of perpetrators to active ministry and an outline of what the victim needs.

Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis - Philip Jenkins. Oxford University Press, 1996. Supposedly a well-researched critical examination of the "clergy abuse crisis", this book yet lacks the statistics that would back up Jenkins' assertions that the incidence of clergy abuse is far less than the media portrays. It also directly contradicts the experience of victims by asserting that the media are, in general, extremely reluctant to report on clergy sexual abuse issues.

The Changing Face of the Priesthood - Donald Cozzens. Liturgical Press; ISBN: 0814625045. Cozzens is a Catholic priest and currently in charge of a seminary in Cleveland. That may well deter many clergy abuse victims from reading this book, but he does provide some insights from inside the priesthood about problems facing the Church. He tackles the issues of celibacy, gays and clergy sexual abuse, among other things. As one reviewer said "Correctly, Cozzens does not attribute the rash of ephebophilia molestation (crimes deriving from sexual fixation on post-pubescent teenagers) to the homosexual orientation of high numbers of priests. But he does raise the very necessary question of how these activities are related to the institutional church's "systemic structure" ("ecclesial patterns of communication, operation, and discipline that both define the lives of the ordained and facilitate their exercise of authority and power")."

The Abuse of Power : A Theological Problem - James Newton Poling. Abingdon Press, 1991. ISBN: 0687006848. Poling is both a seminary theologian and a pastoral counsellor working with survivors. He draws together process theology, psychoanalytic theory, and feminist and African-American sociology and theology and analyses the influence of gender, race, and class on the perpetration of sexual violence. He makes suggestions for change, and tells of ways he, as a white privileged male with power, seeks to be accountable in terms of gender, race, and power.


The Legal Aspects of clergy abuse

* Child Sexual Abuse and the Churches - Patrick Parkinson. Hodder & Stoughton 1997. Publisher's phone number: Australia 02-9841 2800 Examines sexual abuse in the church from a slightly more legal perspective, and includes case studies. Useful for both survivors and supporters.

* Churches, Clergy and the Law - Peter MacFarlane and Simon Fischer. Federation Press 1996. Publisher's phone number: Australia 02-9552 2200 A very law-oriented book. Begins with a summary of the Australian legal system and the church's role within that. Examines laws relating to and within church structure and covers the issue of sexual abuse. Includes case references.

The Battle and the Backlash: The Child Sexual Abuse War - David Hechler. Currently out of print. About the controversy surrounding child sexual abuse. Documents how in each case study, the parents of the victims while seeking justice found themselves alone in their fight.


Informational texts

* Rockspider - Vikki Petraitis & Chris O'Connor. 1999. ISBN 1 876462 03 5. Hybrid Publishers, 1999. PO Box 52, Ormond, VIC, Australia, 3204. Phone: Australia 03-9578 5362. Rockspider is co-authored by a teacher and a police officer, and details the history of the Delta Taskforce (paedophilia investigation in Victoria). It contains case histories, including that of Fr Gerald Ridsdale and other clergy. As one review says, 'It is a sad, but necessary, reminder that trust should never be accorded an individual simply because they occupy "a position of trust." ' Treatment for paedophilia, the paedophile paradise of the internet, input from worldwide experts, key behaviours of paedophiles, and behavioural changes in child victims are all included in the book. (Rockspider is the Australian prison terminology for a paedophile.)


The psychological healing process

* Beyond Closed Doors - John Andrews. David Lovell Publishing 1994. Publisher's phone number: Australia 03-9879 1433. Letters between the adult survivor and his inner child. Not clergy sexual abuse, but an excellent window into the therapy process.

Trauma and Recovery - Judith Herman (M.D). Basic Books, 1992 Herman's research into the parallels between private and public trauma has become a standard text. PTSD and its effects and treatment are covered in detail.

The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships - Patrick J. Carnes (Ph.D). Health Communications Inc. 1997 Carnes explores the pattern of the trauma bond between victim and perpetrator in an in-depth study of exploitive relationships. He covers why they form, who is most susceptible, and how the bond becomes so powerful. He explains how to recognize when traumatic bonding has occurred and provides a checklist. Included are steps readers can take to overcome it.

Just Before Dawn - Jan Hindman. Alexandria Assoc, 1989 An excellent book for therapists and victims alike, that methodically addresses how victims are traumatized and how perpetrators can work toward restitution for victims. Hindman presents a historical review of sexual assault treatment and the system's response to victims, the effects upon victims and their families, and current findings for victim counselling.

Secret Survivors - E. Sue Blume. Ballantine Books, 1998 Secret Survivors focuses on what the after-effects of incest are. It includes a checklist of the most common effects, and discusses them in depth, along with suggestions for developing alternative, non-destructive patterns. It also contains a section for partners of survivors. Note: Although this is not specifically a clergy abuse text, the similarities between clergy abuse and incest are high because of the familial structure of the church.

Repressed memories - Renee Fredrickson. Simon and Schuster, 1992. Deals with why memories are repressed and different means of recovering memories. Includes a chapter specifically referring to dreams related to trauma memories.  A word of caution: it is generally accepted in therapeutic circles that deliberate attempts to recover memories are counter-productive, both because spontaneous memory recovery has more credibility in court, and because the repression of memories is a defence mechanism the mind uses to avoid what it can't deal with.  It is suggested that spontaneous memory recovery occurs when the mind decides it has the resources to deal with the previously-repressed trauma. 

Boundaries and Relationships - Charles Whitfield. Health Communications, 1993. Explores healthy and unhealthy relationships and personal boundaries, and includes self-assessment tests. Halfway between a self-help book and an academic text.

The Verbally Abusive Relationship - Patricia Evans. Adams Media Corporation, 1996. A fantastic book!  Many sexually or physically abused children end up in verbally abusive adult relationships, but do not recognise them as abusive because verbal abuse is more subtly expressed.  This book identifies the types of verbal abuse, suggests ways of responding in order to stop the abuse, and analyses abusive relationship dynamics. Evans has also written books about emotionally abusive relationships, and recognising controlling people.

Facing Codependence - Pia Mellody, J. Keith Miller. Harper San Francisco, 1989. About boundaries, how they get damaged and how to heal them. If a therapist says "maybe you're codependent", then this book is a good place to start. It explains codependency in simple terms and gives lots of examples of codependency behaviour and feelings.

A Conscious Life: Cultivating the Seven Qualities of Authentic Adulthood -- Fran Cox, Louis Cox. Conari Press, 1995. If you ever wondered why you feel like a child hiding in an adult's body playing "grownup", this book is for you. The authors clearly explore the differences between "grownups" and "adults". "Grownups" are cut-off from their feelings and base their behaviour on surface behavioural norms. "Adults" however, are able to comfortably integrate all their feelings without splitting them into "child" and "adult". For anyone struggling with the "I Must Control, Dismiss or Merge With You" battles, or the "Appearing Vulnerable or Flawed Must be Avoided" battles, or the "I Must Control My Emotions At All Times" battles, or the "I Must Manage the Moment and Not Let It Surprise Me" battles, or the "I Have Power Only When I Control, Dominate, or Win" battles.

Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill: Using Dreams to Tap the Wisdom of the Unconscious - Jeremy Taylor. Warner Books, 1993. About understanding the significance of your dreams, this book has a section on dreams of sexual abuse.

Inner Work - Robert Johnson. Harper & Row, 1986. Described by one reader as "the best of the best" in developing skills of dream analysis.

A Safe Place to Begin: Working to Recover from Childhood Sexual Abuse - Rex Bradley and Caroline Johnson-Marshall. An introduction to the healing process, with sections on the mechanisms of abusive relationships, the variety of ways of entering a healing process (with a therapist, in support groups, with a partner and on your own), how to confront the offender, choosing the right therapist, and work you can do on your own. Out of print, but infrequently available secondhand online.

The Way of the Journal: A Journal Therapy Workbook for Healing - Kathleen Adams. Sidran Press, 1998. ISBN: 0962916420. Teaches journal writing as therapy. Includes ideas for getting started, exercises, and other techniques. Adams emphasises containment (so you don't go deeper than you can cope with) and focussing on what is helpful to you as an individual. Especially useful to abuse victims because of its safety and structure focus that facilitates healing rather than re-traumatisation. More about the author and her work here.

The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook - Glenn Schiraldi. McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0737302658. A guidebook for trauma sufferers, covering information on coping mechanisms, emotional triggers, the mental defences that protect us from further harm, treatment options and much more. Highly recommended by PTSD sufferers. See Amazon books for 38 excerpt pages, including table of contents and index. Also available as an e-book.



What About Me? - Grant Cameron. Out of print, but often available secondhand online. The book is written by the husband of an abuse survivor about the challenges of being the spouse of a survivor.

Allies in Healing - Laura Davis. Harperperennial Library, 1991. A very good support and information book for partners of abuse survivors.



The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse - David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen. Bethany House Publishers 1991. May be available through local Christian bookshops. Sometimes spiritual and sexual abuse go hand in hand. This is an excellent exposť of a little-known area of abuse, which can help to enlighten some sexual abuse victims of other factors involved in their story. See Jeff vanVonderen's webpage for further resources

Finding Your Own Spiritual Path - Peg Thompson. Hazelden Educational Materials, 1994. A workbook for recovering a sense of spirituality after disillusionment within the church.

God and the Victim: Theological Reflections on Evil, Victimisation, Justice and Forgiveness - Lisa Barnes Lampman et al. A theological exploration of the spiritual issues that victims face in the aftermath of crime. Offers practical advice for those in need.

Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing - Caroline Myss. Random House, 1997. A medical intuitive, Myss offers a fascinating picture of the human body's hidden energetic structures and its connection to seven truths found in Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism. She offers insights into the symbolic blocks within our energy centres. One abuse victim's reaction: "Myss' book didn't HAND ME a belief or a religion, but allowed me to know where to look within myself to find my core belief."

When God Was a Woman - Merlin Stone. Harcourt Brace, 1978. About the matriarchal societies that existed in the ancient world, and how the conflict between religion and matriarchy eventually toppled matriarchy.

The Power of Myth - Joseph Campbell. Anchor, 1991. ISBN: 0385418868. For those who are questioning the church's claim to individuality. References to other virgin births, other saviours, etc. It is a work of deconstructionist literary criticism that seeks to celebrate the common threads running through all cultures and perspectives. As a result, it encourages us to see our faith as part of universal myth rather than an exclusional church.

Lights in the Darkness: For Survivors and Healers of Sexual Abuse - Ave Clark. Resurrection Press, 1993. Written by a nun survivor of incest, this book tackles the issue of how the church can aid the healing process. She includes a chapter on clergy sexual abuse, and writes: "Very often, when a church person is involved in sexually abusing a child or an adult, the image of a loving God is also shattered or even lost. A faith crisis is set off that will probably take a lifetime to reclaim or to heal..." (p. 74)

Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool - Lauren Artress. Riverhead Books, 1996. An account of the rediscovery of an ancient meditational technique, the labyrinth, a "spiritual tool" that predates Christianity and was widely used in Christian spirituality until the sixteenth century. An intriguing mixture of New Age spirituality and traditional Christian mysticism that will appeal to a broad range of spiritual seekers, mystics, and students of mysticism.

Woman, Church, and State: A Historical Account of the Status of Woman Through the Christian Ages, With Reminiscences of the Matriarchate (Amer Women) - Matilda Gage. Arno Press, 1972. Documents complaints made in 1877 by a number of prominent women of Montreal, Canada. They protested to the bishop about abuses of the confessional (sexual soliciting). The book documents the degrading of women in the church a century ago.

Internal Desecration: Traumatization and Representations of God - Carrie Doehring. University Press of America, 1993. ISBN: 0819191213 Explores the inter-relationship between severity of childhood traumatisation and mental representations of God through a comprehensive review of psychodynamic literature and quantitative research methodology, and how physical and sexual abuse during childhood have the potential to obliterate internal representations of a loving God. The author analyses the things that predispose victims to abuse by clergy, and also discusses the significance of these findings for clinicians and faith communities.


Many other useful books have been published since 2000, and a Google search is recommended.


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