Recommended reading

This is not a comprehensive list of every resource on self-defence, conflict management, and recovery I know; it’s just a very idiosyncratic list of my favourite resources. These are some of the books that made me go “I wish I’d known this way back when.” There’s plenty of other good stuff out there. Conversely, the fact that a book is listed here does not mean that I agree 100% with all of its contents.

Please note: the majority of these books are not geared towards recent survivors of violence or abuse. Some are heavy reads, literally or metaphorically, and while none of them engage in violence voyeurism (or they wouldn’t have made this list), all have the potential to trigger susceptible individuals.

If you have known triggers, I would advise you to get someone you trust to check out the books first, and advise you accordingly. You might also consider asking them to mark certain sections so they don’t catch you unaware.

(And, fyi, there’s nothing wrong with having triggers, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to get unnecessarily triggered when you have other shit to get on with. Getting triggered is not just unpleasant: it can be exhausting, and it can take up time and energy you might rather spend having an actual life. And while exposure therapy can be a useful tool for a lot of people, stumbling over surprise triggers when you’re just trying to get on with your day doth not constitute a therapeutic tool. I wish more self-defense writers were aware of that. Rant over.)

Some books also use ableist language. Unfortunately, if I screened books based on that, this list would be depressingly short.



I am including the two books below because it isn’t uncommon for survivors of violence and abuse to be left with anxiety, depression, or both as a result. These books are, as you might guess from the titles, peppered with swears, so they might not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, they are short, accessible, and immediately useful, which is not all that common for self-help books. They both provide a good starting block to set you up for success on the road to recovery, and they won’t require much of your energy or time. I particularly enjoy the audiobook versions.

I also strongly recommend that everyone – and I do mean EVERYONE – should read the Depression book, because it has the best explanation of suicidality I’ve ever seen as well as some extremely good practical suggestions for how to reduce risks. Given that the vast majority of popular advice available on the subject starts off by making no distinction between suicidal ideation and suicidal intent, and ends up by reeling off a bunch of uninformed platitudes, this book could save lives. Oh, and it comes in at under $3.

This book is a much heavier read, so it’s not necessarily accessible in the heat of trauma, but it is a very good introduction to the emotional and psychological impacts of childhood abuse and neglect on later life.

Similar to the above, but focusing specifically on emotional abuse. Blissfully short and to the point.


Conflict management:

I recommend this book to all humans planning to interact with other humans in any setting. Yeah, I’m serious.

A useful resource for learning to self-de-escalate and express needs in a non-challenging way. Despite protestations to the contrary, it will NOT work in asocial settings, or with people who aren’t invested in getting along with us. It can also be misused to manipulate people in the context of emotional abuse, and that misuse is becoming increasingly common – more reason to learn how it’s supposed to work, so that it can’t be used against you.

Specific to communication with emotionally disturbed people. Most of us will probably never have to do it, but it’s useful information if the situation ever arises. It can also give us a better understanding of the challenges presented to those people who have to deal with these situations as their job.



If you’re going to read only one book on the subject, I’d pick this one. Probably my favourite non-fiction book.

A more targeted look at how and why violence happens, and how to best deal with it.

A good introduction to the role of intuition in keeping us safe and some of the common techniques predators use in order to get close to their chosen targets. Probably most useful in encouraging people who need to give themselves permission to self-defend. HOWEVER, this book starts with a visual representation of a violent crime, and is a triggerfest throughout. If the information it provides wasn’t so good, or was available elsewhere, I probably would not recommend it. An online resource for children (of any age) of estranged parents who are either abusive or dysfunctional, aiming to explain the mentality of the estranged parents and why dealing with them can be a frustrating waste of time and effort. An online resource designed for professionals working with victims or perpetrators of stalking, full of well-presented, concise advice.


Teaching and studying self-defence:

If you teach self-defence or any other physical skill that pushes people out of their comfort zone, you owe it to yourself and to your students to check out this book. It covers all the basics of how to structure and run your school in order to help your all students learn and grow.

If you want to learn self-defence, this book can give you an idea of what to look out for in a school. This is particularly important if you are not the typical martial arts student – young, fit, neurotypical, and most likely male.


Stuff I wrote:

“It’s easy to teach what to do—legally and physically—when a stranger raises his hand against you. Much harder to teach what you can do—legally, physically and socially—about the guy who just happens to rub up against you whenever no one is watching.

A.R. Banks has taken on this complex subject in this little book. For the people dealing with creeps, it’s invaluable advice. For people teaching self-defense, it’s a wake-up call.

Read this one.”

– Rory Miller, author of “Meditations on Violence”, “Conflict Communications”, “Facing Violence”, and many other works.

The same, but in Spanish:

“A.R. Banks has done an amazing thing. The Toolkit is neither an academic treatise nor the screed of a survivor working out personal issues. It is very simply good advice from someone who is good at helping people. When your life goes very badly, there may come a time when you need a non-judgmental but non-coddling guide. Start here.”

– Rory Miller, author of “Meditations on Violence”, “Conflict Communications”, “Facing Violence”, and many other works.


“If you teach self-defense you will have students come to you with traumatic history. You might know who they are and what that history is— or you might not. This book isn’t about becoming a counselor or a social worker. It is an in depth guide on how not to be an ass when you are working with the children of adversity. And if you, yourself are a survivor of something, it’s a solid kick in the head that not everyone is on the same path or as far along that path as yourself.”

– Rory Miller, author of “Meditations on Violence”, “Conflict Communications”, “Facing Violence”, and many other works.

Fiction. Sci-fi, allegedly, though it’s mostly about terrible things happening to good people.

Oh, and then there’s the not-very-fantastical fantasy. Mostly about being poor, queer, and neurodivergent, but gods and magic do feature.