Books and Movies That Portray Domestic Violence

Books and Movies That Portray Domestic Violence

By Choyette, Phone Services Advocate at The Hotline 

As people, we are bombarded with media throughout our lives, whether it’s checking Facebook when we wake up in the morning or winding down for the night by watching some Netflix before bed. With this constant media swirl around us, it is understandable and normal for our perceptions of the world to be affected by media. However, when it comes to domestic violence and abusive relationships, media tends to do more harm than good. Many TV shows, movies and books tend to romanticize unhealthy relationships, leaving viewers of all ages confused about what is healthy in a relationship. This post serves to highlight books and movies that break this cycle and portray the reality of abusive relationships. 

If you’re reading this because you think you’re in an abusive relationship, try picking something on the list to see if it reminds you of your relationship. If you’re reading this because someone you know is in an abusive relationship, you might recommend something on this list to them or have a movie night featuring one of these movies. Movies will have their ratings listed next to the title to help parents determine which movies would be best for their teens or children to watch.  


  • Enough (2002, PG-13) 
  • Fear (1996, R) 
  • Sleeping With the Enemy (1991, R)
  • Reviving Ophelia (2010, TV-14) 
  • Men Don’t Tell (1993, Not Rated) 
  • Big Little Lies (HBO Series, TV-MA) 
  • Sleeping With the Devil (1997, PG) 
  • Til Death Do Us Part (2017, PG-13) 
  • Not Without My Daughter (1991, PG-13) 
  • Te Doy Mis Ojos/Take My Eyes (2003, NR [Nudity and Violence])


  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty 
  • Black & Blue: A Domestic Violence Story by Lady Lisa (First in a series of books) 
  • Faultline by Janet Tashjian 
  • The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle 
  • Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Kate Hinde Heller 
  • The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen 
  • The Liar by Nora Roberts 
  • Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris 
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker 
  • Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen 

Maybe one of these stories felt a little too familiar, and you’re wondering what this means for your relationship. If you need to talk it over, feel free to reach out to The Hotline 24/7/365 by phone at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or by online chat at www.thehotline.org 

If you’re not ready to reach out, that’s ok too. Here are some books that can help continue the journey you’ve already begun into exploring the dynamics of abuse: 

  • You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay 
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft
  • Getting Free: A Handbook for Women in Abusive Relationships by Ginny NiCarthy 
  • Mejor Sola Que Mal Acompanada: For the Latina in an Abusive Relationship by Myrna Zambrano 
  • Naming the Violence: Speaking Out About Lesbian Battering by Kerry Lobel 
  • Saving Beauty from the Beast by Vicki Crompton & Ellen Zelda Kessner 
  • The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond by Patricia Evans 
  • Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence: A Workbook for Women by Mari McCaig & Edward S. Kubany 
  • It’s My Life Now: Starting Over After an Abusive Relationship or Domestic Violence by Meg Kennedy Dugan & Roger R. Hock 
  • The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown


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