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Songs Related to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

An annotated list of recorded sources, from traditional ballads to punk.

Download 2 of my songs for free! (Right now, no kiddin')

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1. Traditional Ballads and Classic Tunes

2. Contemporary Music:


Individual songs (Includes folk, rock, pop, country, R&B, hip hop, rap)


3. Songs with affirming messages for survivors and friends (new page)

4. Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in Popular Film, TV and Documentaries

5. Resources for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness
New! Circle of 6 App to prevent sexual assault!
New! No More: Let’s end the shame and stigma.

FINAL UPDATE 02/15/15 /// Copyright 2002 Gerri Gribi

Due to health issues I am no longer adding songs to this site.
Thanks to everyone who contributed over the years!

About the author:
Gerri Gribi
is an award-winning musician, historian and educator who brings the "unsung" history of women and minorities to life. Her CD The Womansong Collection features 24 woman-positive traditional and composed songs with historical notes and lyrics, and has been enthusiastically reviewed at home and abroad. She travels North America performing her one-woman show A Musical Romp Through Women's History. Learn More

Inclusion on this list is not a personal endorsement.
I provide a wide sampling of experiences and stories, for analysis
and discussion of how these issues are reflected in popular culture,
or in some cases how songs brainwash us into thinking violence is "romantic."

Traditional Ballads and Classic Songs

Alan Lomax estimated that over half of all the ballads created in white American tradition are murder ballads. Obviously, this could have been a VERY long list! I have focused my attention on songs which have accessible recorded versions, plus two of my favorites where the victims fight back.

Banks of the Ohio MP3s at Amazon
Young Willie murders his lover because she won't marry him. This lilting, popular song is an excellent example of how the theme of "murder for unrequited love" is romanticised in traditional ballads...and it prompts an interesting discussion of why this theme is still so popular in contemporary entertainment. There are more than 50 MP3 versions available at (And weirdly, on CDs with titles like "Patriotic Songs of America" and another called "Romantic Moments"!)

Banks of Red Roses aka Banks of the Roses MP3s at Amazon
A girl is stabbed to death by her boyfriend for no apparant reason.

Crafty Maid's Policy Lyrics at Gerri's site /// MP3s at Amazon
I'm partial to songs where the intended victim fights back! First published on a broadside in London in 1860, this Crafty Maid uses a bawdy double-entendre to outwit her assailant, AND steal his horse to boot.

Cruel Youth (aka The Outlandish Knight, Child Ballad #4) MP3s at Amazon
In this American version of a British ballad, a young woman outwits a man who plans to murder her, then sings "Six pretty maidens you drowned here, now go keep them company."

Cruel Brother MP3s at Amazon
Child Ballad #11, in which a suitor fails to ask the brother of his bride-to-be permission for her hand, and so the brother kills her on the wedding day. According to liner notes in "The Battlefield Band" - "In the period that this ballad concerns, the heir to a man's possessions was not his own child, but his sister's; it was therefore obligatory for a suitor to gain the permission of his sweetheart's brother prior to any marriage."

Cruel Mother (aka Lady from Leigh, All Around the Loney-O, Down By the Greenwood Side(y-o) MP3s at Amazon
Child Ballad #20 in which a mother kills her baby. This song has been recorded by many artists over the years, with various versions of the lyrics.

Frankie and Johnny. MP3s at Amazon
There are many variants to the lyrics, and the song has been recorded a zillion times by everybody from Leadbelly to Bing Crosby. But the story is always the same: Frankie kills her boyfriend because he was cheating on her.

Knoxville Girl (aka Wexford Girl) MP3s at Amazon
This is your standard boy-meets-girl, boy-kills-girl traditional ballad in which the sympathy seems to lie with the "poor" murderer stuck in a jail cell for life.

Little Mary Phagan MP3s at Amazon
Based on a true story. A young girl is molested and murdered, and the community immediately blames a Jewish stranger.

Mack the Knife MP3s at Amazon
This jaunty tune from "Three Penny Opera" (immortalized by Bobby Darin and Louis Armstrong ) is about a hit man who slashes his victim's throats, which apparantly makes him irresistable to the ladies.

Miss Otis Regrets MP3s at Amazon
This Cole Porter song about a high society woman who shoots her philandering husband has been recorded hundreds of times and in several languages, perhaps most notably by Bette Midler.

Pretty Polly MP3s at Amazon
There are many variants of this song, in which a man kills his fiance. It's been recorded by many performers, including Judy Collins on Wind Beneath My Wings.

Sheath and Knife MP3s at Amazon
Traditional Child Ballad #16 about incest and infanticide, in which a young man kills his sister and their baby.

Tom Dooley MP3s at Amazon
Based on the true story of Tom Dula who killed Laura Foster in Wilkes County, NC in 1868 , this song has been recorded many times. Most familiar is the Kingston Trio. ( Their version shifts sympathy to the killer when they sing "Hang down your head Tom Dooley, Poor boy you're bound to die." The traditional lyrics say "Killed poor Laura Foster, don't you know you're bound to die."

Well Below the Valley MP3s at Amazon
This is a traditional Child ballad about incest.

Outside of That, He's Alright with Me MP3 at Amazon
"He blacked my eye, I couldn't see, Then he pawned the things he gave to me. But outside of that, he's all right with me!" Besse Smith made this one famous.

Wild Women Don't Have the Blues (aka Wild Women Don't Get the Blues) MP3 at Amazon
Ida Cox's blues classic about a woman who doesn't put up with violence...or anything else for that matter!

Young Freda Bolt. MP3 at Amazon
A young woman thinks she's on her way to her wedding, but her fiance murders her instead. A Carter Family classic.

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Contemporary Compilations (including folk, pop, rock and R&B)

Spotlight! Respond - by Various Artists, Signature Records 1999

A compilation to benefit Respond Incorporated, a non-profit organization providing confidential, free services for battered women and their children in the Boston area since 1974. A grassroots effort intiated by Boston-area songwriters and sponsored by WBOS. Many local musicians donated their time, performances and energy to the project, including Catie Curtis and Patty Larkin.

Spotlight! Respond II - Various Artists, Signature Records, 2003

Suzanne Vega 's "Luka," Bebel Gilberto 's "Sem Contenção," and Dolly Parton 's "Endless Stream of Tears" Julie Miller 's twangy "Too Many Troubles," Tracy Bonham 's haunting "I'm No Giant," and the Indigo Girls ' acoustic version of "She's Saving Me" Sweet Honey in the Rock and many more!

Dr. Peter Alsop's Songs on Sex and Sexuality. (Double CD)Peter Alsop. Moose School. 1995

"Peter Alsop sings and teaches in a gentle and direct way the very real problems of child sexual molestation."

Songs for the Inner Child. Shaina Noll. Singing Heart, 2003.

"...a collection of chants and lullabies, both traditional and contemporary, sung with the gentle voice of a loving mother. The songs are healing and soothing for listeners of all ages, carrying powerful messages of affirmation and comfort." Highly recommended by several readers recovering from childhood abuse.

Retreat - Recovery Songs for Adult Children of Alcoholics, Emotional Incest survivors, Sexual Abuse, and Domestic Violence Awareness. Joe E. Daddario (Original Release, 1991, CD Release 2001) Read more, order at

Eight soft rock recovery songs which help survivors relate to, and identify, their feelings.

No Secrets: Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Women's Rape Crisis Center (1998) Various Artists. Read more, order or listen to songs at

"Vermont's music community gathered in support of the Women's Rape Crisis Center. Eclectic, driven by emotion and mammoth talent, 'No Secrets' delivers an uncompromised message to the world."
Before Their Time (1999) Various Artists. Read more, order or listen to songs at

Designed to comfort people after the death of someone close, and help them heal. Featuring works by such folks as Sweet Honey in the Rock, Priscilla Herdman, Anne Hills and Tom Paxton. All proceeds benefit Hospice VNH, which provides both assistance for the terminally ill and bereavement support to survivors in Vermont and New Hampshire, and the NH Youth Suicide Prevention Association.

Home Alive Compilation 2 - Flying Side Kick.

Features many of the most active and socially conscious indie bands of the current west coast punk scene. All the songs are previously unreleased. Many of them were written and recorded specifically for this project. The Gossip, The Need, Amy Ray (Indigo Girls) W/The Butchies, Black Halos, Zen Guerilla, The Makers, The Pinkos, The Gits, Dead Moon, Carrie Akre, Maktub, Leslie Wood, Going South, Tracy & The Plastics, Ecowar, Carissa's Weird, Songs For Emma.

Home Alive - Art of Self Defense (Pop - Import. Out of Print)

The non-profit organization HOME ALIVE was set up in 1993 after the brutal murder of songwriter, performer Mia Zapata. Money from the HOME ALIVE: THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE CD goes towards the teaching of self-defense in specialized classes, and the making available of mace and self-defense weapons.

Many of the artists had been close to Mia and most all of the songs deal with the problem of violence in the US and beyond. Bands featured on the CD include Joan Jett, Andrew Horwitz, Kristen Barry, Soundgarden, Wendy-O Matik, Dance French Liberals of '48, Maria Mabra, Kristen Kosmas, Alcohol Funnycar, Tamara Paris, Portrait of Poverty, Alison I Murchie,Tchkung, Christdriver, Jello Bafia, Shark Chum, Fastbacks, The Gits, Pearl Jam, and more.

Inner Chambers by Deb Criss

This New Age album combines Deb's music with her healing practice in working with survivors of sexual abuse.

Skin - (1997) Rainmakers. V&R (Rock)

This is a concept album about sexual politics, the objectification of women and the negative effects of pornography. The Rainmakers are a male rock band from the midwest, and you can learn more about them at their website.

Stop Handgun Violence - by Various Artists, Uni/Rounder 2000

Benefit Stop Handgun Violence. Artists include Bonnie Raitt, Hootie and the Blowfish, Cheryl Wheeler, Chicago and a lot more.

Sunset Tree, The Mountain Goats 4ad 2005

Kitty writes: 'The Sunset Tree' is about the lead singer dealing with his father's abuse. Two of my favorite songs are 'Dilaudid', which is done in a very desperate tone that gives me chills every time, and 'Lion's Teeth', which is about him trying to kill his father.

Truth and the Lie (1991) by Susan Herrick

Shares intimate original songs about the process of healing from child sexual abuse.

Voices Against Violence (1994)

Out of print, but used copies are available. Includes "Another Sad Love Song" by Toni Braxton, "All Around the World" by Lisa Stansfield, "Why" by Annie Lennox, "Shelter" by Sarah McLachlan, "Willing to Forgive" by Aretha Franklin, and "Like a River" by Carly Simon.

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"Song Title", Artist, Album

"18 Wheeler," Pink Missundaztood Arista 2001

Lia says: "This is a song about a tough chick who is not going to take a man's abuse. She sings, "You can't keep me down""

"977," The Pretenders, Last of the Independents, Rhino 2004. (Rock)

A violent relationship is mistaken for love, and abuse is interpretted as "attention."

"99 Biker Friends" Bowling for Soup, The Great Burrito Extortion Case. Jive, 2006 (There is a "clean" and an "explicit" version available)

Hannah writes: "This is a humorous song from the point of view of a man who sees a female friend being in an abusive relationship and critiques the "macho man" abuse mentality: "It takes a tough man to slap her around Such a bad guy to keep such a good girl down. She's wearing shades, but we all see behind the tinted glass - And I've got 99 biker friends that want to kick your a**!"

"Against the Grain," Donna Pea; Joe Comacho; Marty Haugen; and Pamela Smith, Tales of Wonder: A Musical Storytelling Album. GIA Publications

"This is a song from a Christian Musical written in 1989. The song's focus is about Christ dying for our sins, and the people praying to end all violece on earth. The second verse, sung by Marty Haugen truly sticks out for this cause. "When we see the torment in the fields, when we hear the battle cry of the children, do we sit and close our eyes to their pain, or do we stand and move against the grain?..." (Marty Haugen, 1989) Refrain: "No more sorrow, no more pain, cease your silence, come O rain..." (Pamela Smith, 1989)

"Ain't So Easy" David & David, Boomtown. A&M 1990. /// Lyrics

An abuser apologizes and promises to change his ways...again.

"Alive" Pearl Jam, Ten. Sony, 1991.

About a boy whose mother molests him because he looks like his deceased father.

"Alyssa Lies" Jason Michael Carroll, Waitin in the Country, Arista, 2007(Country)

A little girl tells her father that a schoolfriend is being abused, but the child is murdered before he gets around to telling the authorities

Amy in the White Coat. Bright Eyes. Noise Floor. 2006

An anonymous poster writes: "This is a beautifully sung and haunting song about a girl who is neglected and sexually abused by her father. It's very interesting because it's sang from 2 perspectives: a friend of "Amy's", and her father's. This is the most triggering song I've ever heard on this subject, but I highly recommend it because of the sensitivity and awareness it shows on the singer's part."

"Ancestor," Tina Lear, Full Moon Big Circle Third Path 1998 (Contemporary folk)

Written for her deceased father, this song gives voice to both rage and redemption.

"Are We There Yet Momma?" (written by) Walter Hyatt, Music Town, Sugar Hill 1993 (Country)

A woman packs up her children and her life to move away from an abusive man.
Also recorded as "Are We There Yet Mama?" by several artists including Caroline Aiken and Kae Lynette

"As a Child" Suzanne Vega 99.9F A&M 1992
Recorded by many other artists

Susyn writes: "in it she describes the first hand effects of dissociation, depersonalization (feeling unreal), projecting, fragmenting, powerlessness and PTSD - - All common with csa - - in 2 verses. Amazing songwriting."

"Ask Me", Amy Grant, Heart In Motion, UNI/A&M 1991 (Christian Rock)

A woman's faith in God helps her to heal from sexual abuse.

"At The Hands of a Man", Candace Asher, Candace Asher, Crazy Wisdom Music 1999 (Country/Pop)

A woman struggles to find healing after sexual assault, and is helped by a compassionate lover .

"Baby Don't Cry" (Keep Ya Head up II) Tupac Shakur, Still I Rise Interscope Records

Baby's Romance. Chris Garneau. Music for Tourists. 2007

An anonymous poster says: "A beautiful song full of piano and cello about a boy who is hiding the fact that he's being molested by a man even though he knows his mother would kill the man if she knew. The singer reflects on what seems to be a physically violent relationship in which the man who molested him would constantly ask for cooperation. In reflection, as an adult, the singer comes to terms with the fact that he'll never tell anyone what happened. I recommend this song especially because Mr. Garneau did eventually put the man who molested him in prison."

"Back of Your Hand (The)" Jones & Leva, Light Enough to Find My Way, Rounder 1997

Peter Fraissinet of the Salt Creek Show, WVBR-FM, Ithaca NY writes: This song is spot-on for your list. The chorus ends:
"She knows that promises are written in the sand
"She knows it like the back of your hand."

"Bad Cliche," Cosy Sheridan, Grand Design, Wind River 2000

"I have an uncle, he's a dirty old man - I grew up with a bad cliche

I have learned to find other things to do - on family holidays

I have tried to love the sinner- and only hate the sin

But whoever wrote that never got caught - in a dark corner with him."

"Bad Wisdom", Suzanne Vega, 99.9 Degrees Fahrenheit PGD/A&M 1992

There is no agreement on what this song is about, and Suzanne herself has been vague in interviews. Perhaps preferring to allow each listener their own interpretation or projection? Some say it's a song about incest, some say it's a song about the AIDS crisis, and others say it's just a song about indiscretion. I only know this: people complained it was missing from the list, so here it is!

"Ballad of Yvonne Johnson," Eliza Gilkyson, Land of Milk and Honey Red House 2004.

Bob Jenson writes: The song is based on the book "Stolen Life" by Rudy Wiebe and Johnson, which chronicles the abuse she survived. The song is raw but full of life and hope; it may be useful in the classroom. I think one verse of the song (based on Johnson's prayer) is particularly powerful:

„Help me to make my amends to those that I have harmed.
Grant them love and peace so they may understand I‚m sorry.
Help me share my shame and pain so others they might do the same.
And so awaken to themselves and to all peoples of this world.

"Beautiful Prize", Rick Springfield, KARMA, Intersound 1999 (Pop)

Rick Springfield is said to have written this song about a girl he'd met in group therapy who had endured incest.

"Because I Told You So," Jonatha Brooke, 10 Cent Wings, Uni/MCA 1997 (Contemporary folk)

The person who submitted this song wrote: "This song struck me when I heard it as someone asking questions to an abuser - why can't you just believe me when I've given it all up for you, taken on all the blame, etc."

"Because of You," Kelly Clarkson, Breakaway 2004

Gemma writes: This could be a song about being a victim of domestic violence or witnessing it as a child - which is what it is depicted as in the accompaning video. Portrays the effects of domestic/psychological abuse has affected the main character throughout her life into adulthood. (Not sure if Kelly sings from experience but a precise portrayal if not.)

"Behind the Wall", Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman Wea/Elektra 1988 (Folk/pop/rock)

A a chilling and effective song sung acapella, which addresses society's unwillingness to recognize and deal with domestic abuse.

"Better Days", Guy Clark Craftsman (Country) Order at

A woman takes charge of her life and moves on to "Better Days."

"Better Man, " Pearl Jam MP3s at

About a woman in an abusive relationship, who wants to leave but is still holding on to her love for her abusive partner

"Birmingham", Amanda Marshall, Amanda Marshall Sony Music 1996 (Rock) Lyrics ///

"His wife remembers well the man she knew; seems the dreams she had have all turned black and blue"

"Black and Blue Elaine" Donna Colton , Acoustic Amazon, Red Lip Records

In this song about domestic violence, a woman grapples with what is the "right" thing to do...wait for her husband to change or move on and save herself.

"Black Annis" Solas, Edge of Silence. Shanachie, 2002 (Folk)

The song is by Antje Duvekot (who has toured with the supergroup SOLAS) and it's found on her album "Little Peppermints" at She says on the album that the song is about her stepfather.

"Black Eye Galaxy" Hitchcock Blonde, Soul Button 2006

"in the black eye galaxy, you gotta get by on buried dreams"

"Black Eyes Blue Tears," Shania Twain, Come On Over PGD/Polygram 1997 (Country) Lyrics or

A woman finds her self-esteem and decides "I'd rather die standing than live on my knees."

"Blue Flashing Light." Travis. Man Who. Sony/Epic 2000. Available at Amazon. (Rock)

This is a "hidden track" on the CD. A man's regular drunken bouts against his family turns into disaster one night.

"Blurred Lines." Robin Thicke, Blurred Lines. Star Trak 2013. (Pop) (No link provided because I don't want to profit off this song.)

The perfect example of how "rape fantasy" gets promoted in a catchy tune.

"Boiler (The)," Rhoda Dakar, This Are Two Tone EMD/Chrysalis 1983 (Rock/Ska) Also available on several other compilations. Order or listen at

"It is more or less a 'spoken' song, starting out almost humorous and self-effacing about meeting some guy in a clothes store and going on a date with him. It turns quite graphic and harrowing, ending with the actual rape. I first heard this in 1982 (when I was 17) and it still haunts was banned from airplay in the UK." Thanks to Dan for submitting this.

"Break the Silence- Stop the Violence," Anna Fisher, Renaissance In Formation, Molin Music, 1996. Order or Listen at

Anna writes: Here's a song I wrote after fleeing 10 years of domestic violence.

"Breaking Silence," Janis Ian, Breaking Silence Morgan Creek 1993 (Folk) Order or Listen at

A powerful song about breaking the silence about abuse. See also "His Hands."

"Brenda's Got a Baby" Tupac Shakur 2Pacalypse Now, Jive 1991

A 12-year-old girl is molested by her cousin, and her parents don't care so long as they get first dibs on the government check when the baby is born.

"A Broken Wing," Martina McBride, Evolution (Country) RCA 1997 Order at

A woman manages to leave an abusive situation, and despite years of opression, learns to fly. The reader who submitted it adds, "It is a very inspiring song to those that have left violence and those leaving to know that they can make it and be a stronger person because of it."

"Buckaroo," Ranch Romance, Blue Blazes (Country) Sugarhill 1993. Order at

Andi from Seattle writes: " it's a cheated woman's revenge song, it's way cool, local to Seattle for its setting at the Buckaroo Tavern and is an interesting twist; it's not the cheated-on wife here who exacts revenge..."

"Bury My Lovely," October Project, October Project, Sony 1993 (Rock/Pop) Order at

Thanks to Melodie for submitting this song. She says, " This song so powerfully describes the experience of the adult survivor remembering or the child learning to forget." This single was a hit for October Project. Though the group is no longer together, the CD is still available at online retail outlets.

"Caleb Meyer," Gillian Welch, Hell Among the Yearlings, UNI/ALMO Sounds 1998 (Folk) Order at
Also available on The Granary Girls. Sowing Seeds. Good Grains Music 2001. (Folk) Order at Amazon
And other artists including Joan Baez, Peter Mulvey and more

A woman fends off a rapist. This song is very much in the style of a traditional ballad.

Jodi Ritter of the Granary Girls writes: "Patty and I have differing interpretations of the possible meaning in this song. I hear Caleb rattling his chains and believe the woman in this song will never be free of him. She lives with what happened. Patty hears her cry "My God, I am your child, send your Angles down" and wonders if it is divine intervention. Either way the woman in this song lives with the outcome as is the realitiy for many women in our world; past, present, future. In the year 2000, the crime of rape remains the least reported, least indicted, and least convicted of any major felony."

"California," Kenny Chesney, Everywhere We Go (Country) MP3 at

Shannon writes "...a song about a girl who dreams of going to California and leaving everything behind, because her daddy loves her "a little too much." It's a beautiful, wistful song that really captures the fantasy world kids escape to when they are being abused. "

"Can't Fight This Feeling" REO Speedwagon, The Hits Order at

A reader writes" Even though it was originally written as a love song, to me the message stands out as an abused child on the verge of losing hope, crying out to an old friend or advocate to rescue them from their painful home. "I can't fight this feeling anymore, I've forgotten what I started fighting for, It's time to bring this ship into the shore, and throw away the oars forever..." (Kevin Cronin, 1984)

"Caught in the Crossfire," Connie Kaldor, Moonlight Grocery. Order at

"What's the matter with her, what's the matter with her, There was a time when She could talk to her mother now She's running for cover".

"Certain Things" Jano, Certain Things Waterbug 1996 (Folk) Order at

"This is a radical album in many ways-from the cover photo by Matt Dinerstein to the stark presentation of some of the most shocking songs about sexual abuse ever recorded."

"The Chalet Lines" Belle And Sebastian, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant. Matador 2000. (Folk) Order at /// Lyrics ///

A girl is raped "in the chalet lines", and doesn't know what to do about it.

"Change", Patty Griffin, Flaming Red, A&M Records 1998 (Folk influenced) Order at

A woman tries to change herself to make her abuser stop hurting her.

"Cherokee Louise" Joni Mitchell. Night Ride Home. Geffen,1991 (Pop) Order/Listen at

A young girl hides from her sexually abusive step-father.

"Child" Holly Near, Early Warnings. Appleseed Records 2002. Order at

"A child becomes a target of a day that was too tough..." This song was originally recorded on Holly's out of print album, "Watch Out!"

"Chronology," Rebecca Padula, Time, Speed & Distance 2003 Order at or download the MP3 free at Rebecca's web site

The song is written from a survivor's perspective about how memories of past events can rush forward and insert themselves in the present, making time not always feel rational and linear.

"The Coat", Amy and Jenny, Life Becomes Her JenAmy Music 2000 Order at

Amy used to work at an emergency shelter with the children of battered women. This song comes from that experience.

"Concrete Angel" Martina McBride Greatest Hits. RCA 2001 (Country) Order at

This song is about the solace an abused little girl finds in a statue: ""But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place where she's loved..."

"Confession" In Your Absence, Confession The Orchard 2005 Order at

Steve from the band writes: "Our album has several songs on it that were written by our singer as she has been healing over the years. The best example songs would be 'confession' and 'wounded'."

"Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)" Lindsay Lohan, A Little More Personal (Raw)

Anonymous writes: In the song, Lindsay is asking if he - her father - ever loved her. Also, in her video, it shows her parents arguing and fighting. Her father hits her mother, and is saying for her - her mother - not to put him down in front of their children.

"Crack in the Mirror" Betty Elders , Peaceful Existence, Whistling Pig Records 1993 (Folk) Lyrics or Listen

In this song, a child is sexually abused by a "hired hand" from the time she is a baby. Not only does no one help her...they don't believe her. A haunting song you won't forget soon. Also covered by Joan Baez, Gone From Danger, EMD/Angel 1997 (Folk) Order at

"Daddy," Jewell, Pieces of You Atlantic 1995 (Acoustic Rock) Read more at Amazon

An intensely bitter song about emotional and verbal abuse, in which the daughter responds in kind.

"Daddy's Girl" The Scorpions, Face The Heat Polygram 2006 (Heavy Metal) Order at

A mother denies the fact that her daughter is being molested by her father. Lyrics

"Daddy's Song" Toni Childs, House of Hope, A&M 1991 (Rock/Pop) Order at

A survivor's song: "I've just got to know now what it is to survive daddy's song and daddy's lies I've gotta know...what it is how it happened I've just got to know now what it means to survive and to live out daddy's lies...I've got to live." (See also "I've Got to Go Now")

"Damaged," Plumb, The Best of Plumb, EMG 2000 (Christian/Alternative) Listen/Order at Amazon

Sara writes: This song has helped me immensely in times of pain and depression. It's just nice to know that there are people out there who are going through the same thing and understand the unexplainable.

"Healing comes so painfully and it chills to the bone
Will anyone get close to me?
I'm damaged, as I'm sure you know
There's a mending for my soul
An ending to this fear
Forgiveness for a man who was stronger
I was just a little girl, but can't go back"

"The Dark I Know Well" Lilli Cooper Spring Awakening, Verve 2006 (Broadway and Vocalists)

Hannah writes: "This is a song from the musical Spring Awakening, sung from the point of view of two girls whose fathers sexually abused them."

"Date Rape," Sublime, 40 oz. to Freedom, MCA 1992 (punk/alternative) Order at

"This song is about a girl who is taken advantage of on a date, and how the rapist gets what is coming to him."

"Dazed and Confused, " MP3s at written and recorded by Jake Holmes The Above Ground Sound (1967) but most people know Led Zeppelin's version from their 1969 debut album Led Zeppelin.

Kate writes: "This might as well be entitled prelude to rape, it is the kind of violent thinking that abusers use to rationalize the abuse that they're about to inflict on a woman: that she is evil and deserves exactly what she is going to get (rape) from him. The incredibly powerful musical presentation gives this song extreme emotional impact. The singer claims to be dazed and confused by the woman, but it is actually his state of mind (denial and indulgence) that leads him to this state of confusion, and keeps a woman who is being abused also in a state of extreme emotional and physical dazed confusion. A lot of people don't realize that this song gives abusers a powerful context in which to inflict their abuse.

"Dear Agony" Breaking Benjamin, Dear Agony MP3 at

Jericho writes: "The song was written by the singer as a response to his alcoholism but he says himself that he wrote it to be able to fit the needs of anybody who listens not one specific thing. Very powerful modern song."

"Dear John" Taylor Swift, Speak Now. Big Machine Records, 2010 (Country) MP3 at

Hannah writes: "This song is about a girl who was in an extremely unhealthy relationship in which she became obsessed with a man who emotionally abused her (from the lyrics, it almost seems he had bipolar disorder). She didn't realize how bad things were until she had finally broken it off with him."

"Dear Mr Jesus" PowerSource, Shelter from the Storm (Christian)

A child sees a news story about a little girl who is nearly beaten to death by her parents. He prays for protection for her...and also for himself. This CD and a companion video are available from the Richard Klender, the composer's web site.

"Delia's Gone." Johnny Cash, American Recordings. Lost Highway 2002 Listen/Order at Amazon (Country)

Johnny Cash reminisces about missing the woman he murdered. A murder ballad in the truest sense, since he blames her "devilish ways." It's also on Bobby Bare's CD All American Country. ("All American" indeed...sigh.)

"Delilah." Tom Jones(Reloaded). 2003 Listen/Order at Amazon

Man gets tired of his wife cheating on him, so one night he stabs her to death. The frightening thing to me is the romantic casting of this murder: I've seen programs about Tom Jones and it's scarey to watch his female audience all rocking and singing along with him, "Why why why, Delilah?" It's part of the myth girls grow up with: that it's cool and romantic if a man loves you so much he'll kill you out of jealousy. See also the Beatles, "Run for Your Life."

"Delilah" The Dresden Dolls, Yes, Virginia Roadrunner 2006. (Punk) Order at

Cory writes: "Many of the songs on this site deal with a friend encouraging someone to leave an abusive relationship. Well, this one's about a friend who, after many attempts at doing that, she finally gives up. Some parts of the song are quite harsh, but it's the exact reality of watching a trainwreck in slow motion. The character "Delilah" is pretty much a personification of "He Hit Me" by Carol King, and I think Amanda Palmer is a genious for writing it because it shows perfectly how abuse effects many people, other than the people directly involved, and can ultimately lead to the other party's self-destruction. The last verse reminds me of the ending of Thelma & Louise." Lyrics

"Devil's Food," Fleming & John, Way We Are, Universal 1999. Pop/Rock Learn more at

Addresses emotional abuse.

"Doin' It", Lenore, Lenore 1999 Order at

Lenore writes, "I wrote it after hearing the 'not guilty' verdict in the OJ murder trial....thinking to myself, if I had a daughter, what would I tell her...the first verse starts: 'Beware of the man who really knows how to apologize...'"

"Don't Leave Me Now", Pink Floyd, The Wall Original release 1994, Digitally Remastered 2000 Read more at Amazon

The submitter writes: "I decided to create a violence identification and prevention curriculum for jr high and high school students using popular/rock music as a teaching method. A friend emailed me your site, and I am impressed. One song that I use is "Don't Leave Me Now" by Pink Floyd from the album "The Wall". That shows the side of abuse from the abuser, but is not sympathetic towards the abuser."

"Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me," Motorhead Steamhammer Us 2001 (Metal) Read more at Amazon

"Little girl sleeping in dreams of peace, Mommy's been gone a long time, Daddy comes home and she still sleeps, Waiting for the world's worst crime."

"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood." The Animals Most of (The Animals) EMI 1996. Available at Amazon Read Lyrics. (Blues/Rock)

Philip, who suggested this song, writes: "I've always heard the lyrics of this blues-rock classic as a violent man's weaselly apologies to his abused girlfriend. You may disagree, it's a bit ambiguous."

"Don't Tell Me Just to Pick Up and Leave," Kate Long, Pieces of Heart (Folk/Country)

Various women give their reasons for not leaving abusive relationships...too rich, too poor, too Christian, to afraid of being killed...and too accustomed to violence from having seen it with her own parents.

"Dorian" Brother Ali, Shadows on the Sun, Rhymesayers 2003 (Rap) Order at

A man confronts a neighbor in his building who is abusing his family.

"Dreams be Dreams," Jack Johnson, On and On, UMVD 2003 Order at

Mike writes: "I teach a class on domestic violence at the police academy and use some of the songs and their lyrics for impact. I found a contemporary and current song that I didn't see on your list. It's Dreams Be Dreams by Jack Johnson"

"Emily", Peggy Seeger, Odd Collection Rounder Records 1996 Order at

One of Peggy's "radio ballads" based upon the true story of a woman she met at the Forest Hill Refuge for battered women. (Folk)

"Emma," Atlanta Feminist Women's Chorus, Many Strong and Beautiful Women Singing

A woman deals with the incest of her childhood. Written by Therese Edell.

"Every Breath You Take" The Police. Synchronicity. A&M 1983. (Rock/Contemporary) /// Order at Amazon

"Every breath you take...Every move you make...Every bond you break...Every step you take... I'll be watching you." Isn't this romantic song about stalking?

"Every 6 Minutes" Gina Gershon, Prey for Rock and Roll soundtrack MP3 at Amazon

"Every 6 minutes...Someone says "no"...Every 6 minutes...She gets ignored"

"Excitable Boy," Warren Zevon, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, Rhino 1996 (rock) Order at

I've never personally heard this song, but it was suggested for the list and since Warren Zevon has issued it at least 5 times in the past 20 years, he must like it. It's a macabre story in the tradition of the murder ballad...a "wierd" boy whom everyone dismisses as "excitable" rapes and murders his prom date, then digs her back up 10 years later. No moral or message in this song so far as I can tell...just another example of murder as entertainment. Lyrics

"Face down" Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, NOW Vol 24, Capitol 2007 Order at

Tim writes: "This song, by this band, helps to send the message that being violent towards a woman doesn't make you a man. This is an important message sent by men (an all guy group) to other men to challenge men's concepts of aggressive masculinity."

"Face to Face," Garth Brooks, Chase Lyrics Capitol 2000.(Country) Read more at

A song about facing bullies of all sorts, including a date rapist.

"Fairy Tales," Tim Monaghan, GE5, Superficial World MP3 at

Tim writes: I wrote and recorded a song for a benefit CD about 8 years ago that was put together to raise money for a women's shelter here in the northwest. My group GE5 recently re-recorded it, and released it on our debut CD Superficial World last year. I would be honored it you'd consider it for your listing...The imagery came from what my wife had told me about her first marriage, although thankfully there were no children that were actually abused in her story.

"Family Portrait," Pink Missundaztood Arista 2001

Lia writes "Is about a young girl who can't stand living in her home where her father abuses her mother... mother doesn't sound like much of a winner either.

Fee Fi Fo" The Cranberries, Bury the Hatchet Polygram 1999.

"How could you touch something, So innocent and pure, obscure? How could you get satisfaction, From the body of a child?"

"Fiddle About." The Who. (From the Rock Opera Tommy) Live at the Ilse of Wight Festival 1970 (And many other releases.) Order at // Lyrics

In which Tommy is molested by his uncle.

"Fixing Her Hair," Ani Difranco, Imperfectly 1992 (Folk) Lyrics at Danah Beard's site ///Order at

Women have been taught that abuse is an expected element of a relationship and that it is because of them. "If only I looked better" is often a mantra for women who think that they can change their lovers. Ani addresses women who return to abusees rather than leaving.

"Flinty Kind of Woman," Dar Williams The Honesty Room Razor & Tie 1995. Order at

These women don't take any guff, and have their own way of dealing with a threat to their children! Lyrics

"For Adrian (Many Years Ago)" Mark Tulk Of Memory and the Dark Night. Small House Records 2014. (Alternative Art-Rock)

"A first person account (i.e from the victim's perspective) of being sexually abused as an 8 year old boy, by an off duty policeman and boy scout master."

"For Better or Worse." Iain Matthews. Dark Ride Order at

A man sings about a wife who has been raped

"From Where You Come," Jimmy Landry Let Go (folk/country) Order at

A song about having grown up in an abusive home, and the healing process of moving beyond that. The chorus says, "From where you come isn't what you are."

"Full Moon and Jupiter." The Granary Girls. Sowing Seeds. Good Grains Music 2001. (Folk) Order at Amazon

The author Patty Kakac writes: When singing for a crisis shelter, it struck me that things were turned around. The women were under lock and key. I have a friend who is an astronomer. After a rape on campus where he works, more lights were installed which made it difficult to see the stars through the telescope. He struggles with light pollution while supporting the women and safety measures. The much deeper problem of violence against women is what needs illumination!"

"Fury" Kat Eggleston, Second Nature Waterbug 1994 (Folk) Order at

"A narration about domestic violence that fills in some gaps about an intensely personal experience."

"George and Tammy." Martin Zellar, Martin Zellar & the Hardways Live. Owen Lee, 1999 MP3 at

A song that aptly captures the cycle of violence that is created when the victim keeps accepting the apology, thinking next time will be different.

"Go Girl," Lila McCain, Something in the Air Electra 1999 Order at

A friend advises a friend to get out of a bad relationship.

"Gone are the Days," Nichole Nordeman, Wide Eyed 1998.

Gemma writes: I love this song! It is not so much about domestic or sexual abuse but rather about a woman recovering and finally finding herself liberated after a long and emotional struggle and realising that she can in fact move on from the past. Very inspirational and uplifting!!! Go listen!!!

"Good Enough", Sarah Mclachlan, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy BMG/Arista 1994 (Rock/Pop) Order at

A daughter tries to convince her mother that she deserves a better life than one of abuse.

"Goodbye Earl," Dixie Chicks, Fly Sony/Monument 1999 (Country) Order at

This story in this new song reminds me of how an abusive husband was dealt with in Fannie Flagg's "Fried Green Tomatoes." A half dozen folks wrote to tell me to include it, so read the Lyrics for yourself!

"Gray haired Woman (Coming Into My Years)" Betsy Rose, Live From The Very Front Row

I have loved this song since the first time I heard it. While not directly about abuse, it is a proud song about a woman discovering her voice and strength. "No more shrinking with fear when they whistle and jeer, I got a fist that's hard a mind that's clear..."

"Gratitude," Ani Difranco, Not So Soft 1991 (Folk) Lyrics at Danah Beard's site /// Order at

Sometimes, as a woman, when you are offered help, you are expected to pay a price. In this song, Ani addresses a situation where she is offered help in a dire situation and is expected to perform sexually in return, and is raped on refusal.

"Green Pick Up Truck" Greg Winkler, Laugh a Little Larger. Magnetic Bee Music, 2005. (Acoustic Singer Songwriter) CDBaby

Based on the true story of David Larson, who kidnapped and attempted to murder his ex-wife in Kenosha Wisconsin in 2004. Story.

"Guilty Just the Same" Martin Zellar, Martin Zellar and the Hardways. Rykodisc 1996. Order at - Caution: obscene language

A murderer lays the blame for his horrible life at the feet of his abusive father.

"Gunpowder and Lead, " Mirranda Cambert, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Sony 2007 (Country) Order at

Clay writes: "The song is about a woman who gets hit by her man, had him arrested, went home, loaded her shotgun and waited for him. The end of the song you hear a gun being fired."

"Halls of Illusions", Insane Clown Posse, The Great Milenko, Island Records, Inc., 1997 (Rap/ Metal) /// Order at

The song is about taking men who abuse their wives and children and letting them see how great things could've been without them, and then killing them.

"Hands Down" Street Dogs, Back to the World DRT, 2004 (punk) Order at

"All about control, that's the plan Hitting her makes you feel like a man"

"Haunted," Evanescence, Fallen MP3 at

Rach writes: "Haunted is about a girl who is in love with a guy who is stalking/raping her, but she really doesn't like it that much. (I.E.- Watching me, wanting me, I can feel you pull me down, saving me, raping me, wanting me....I wont let you pull me down!)"

"He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)" Crystals, Best of the Crystals PDG/ABKCO 1992 (Rock) Order at

Long before Eminem, this song was written by Carole King and most recently covered by Hole. A girl is glad her boyfriend expresses his jealousy by clobbering her."'Cause if he didn't care for me I could have never made him mad. And he hit me and I was glad." It's the same "jealousy equals love" sentiment expressed in the Beatle's "Run For Your Life." (And, sad to say, a sentiment I remember many of my teenaged girlfriends shared.) Also recorded by The Motels on All Four One

"He Is Still A Father" Priscilla Engle, Ageless Love. Diadum 1989. (Contemporary Christian)

Kevin writes: "This is a Christian song about a young woman who becomes somewhat suspicious about becoming a Christian when God is referred to as a "father," and she remembers what her father did to her as a child. It doesn't get much more explicit than that, but it's still a pretty good song that, even if you don't believe in God, describes how a real father should treat his daughter. The singer/songwriter is a counselor."

"He Never Got Enough Love" Lucinda Williams, Sweet Old World, Chameleon Records. Order at

The story of a man who was abused as a child, and grows up to be abusive himself.

"Hear Yourself," Kathleen Haskard, Into the Deep, Howlin' Hound (Pop) Lyrics

A song about verbal and emotional abuse.

"Hell is for Children", Pat Benetar, Crimes of Passion, EMD/Chrysalis 1980 (Rock) Order at

"Love and pain become one and the same in the eyes of a wounded child"

"He's Hurting Me," Maria Mena, Apparently Unaffected, Columbia Europe, 2006. (Pop)

"First of all thank you for your list of songs related to abuse. I've recently left an abusive marriage and listening to music that's empowering or at least understanding to it has really helped. Just wanted to send you a suggestion of an album related to abuse that's significantly helped me (didn't see it anywhere on your lists). Specifically, a song called He's Hurting Me done by Maria Mena from her Apparently Unaffected album. The whole album appears to reflect her own struggle with a troubled (and likely abusive) relationship."

"Hey Joan" Carol Williams , Hey Joan Order at

The title track is a gender-reversed take on the well-known rock standard “Hey Joe”

"Highschool Stalker", Hello Saferide, Introducing ... Razzia, 2005 Order at

Susyn writes: "This song is hard for me not to like and I would like not to. It's a fun, infectious sing-a-long pop tune that dissolves into realizing it's not just another silly song. The person is cheerfully obsessed; oblivious to their threat and harm they pose. They put the listener into agreement with the stalker. The song is very eerie and well done. It looks like this is the group's first album too."

"Hide and Seek", Ani DiFranco, Living In Clip 1997 (Folk) Order at

Women are expected to play a role, to offer sex when men demand and women comply when they think that it is the only way to survive. Ani addresses much of the abuse and rape that she encounters out of expectation.

"His Hands", Janis Ian, Breaking Silence Morgan Creek 1993 (Folk) Order at

"His hands, they never hit me sober / His hands, they never marked my face / [...] I would rather be deaf / than hear that sound / Like a pistol cracking / as the spirit breaks /and love comes tumbling down".

This song is also covered beautifully by Lisa Moscatiello on Innocent When You Dream, Folk Era 1998 Order at

"Hitting Home," Clare Mooney, Slow Riot, WRPM (Women's Revolutions Per Minute) Clare Mooney

A song about children's experience of domestic violence, and fighting back.

"Hitting You", Loudon Wainwright, History EMD/Capitol 1992 Order at

A father expresses regrets about hitting his daughter. (Folk)

"Hold Her Down." Toad the Wet Sprocket. Fear. Sony/Columbia 1991. (Rock) Listen and Order at Amazon

A song speaking out against acquaintance rape.

"Holes in The Bottom of Her Shoes" Julie Hoest, Where I'm Standing

The story of a woman in hard times. Resounding Records, PO Box 205, Loretto Station Denver, CO 80236 (303) 331-2412 (Folk/blues)

"Holy Water" Big and Rich, Horse of a Different Color Warner Bros. 2004. (Country) Order at

"Somewhere there's a stolen halo I used to watch her wear it well, Everything would shine wherever she would go, But looking at her now you'd never tell, Someone ran away with her innocence" Lyrics

"Holy Water" Lisa McCormick, Right Now Rising Records 1997 (Rock/Pop) Order at

A song about clergy abuse of children.

"House Divided," Chris & Meredith Thompson, Wood & Stone, Alkali Records Order at

A true story of a woman who realizes that if she doesn't stand up for herself, no one else will.

"House of Secrets", Betsy Rose Wings Against The Sky (Cassette - available from Betsy directly)

The lasting wounds are the secrets we continue to keep long after childhood days are gone.

"How Come How Long," Babyface, The Day, Sony 1996 (Soul/R&B) Order at

Thanks to Patricia for suggesting this song, to which she adds, "The song is really powerful and the accompanying video is, too. (And if you like the victim striking back, the video is for you!) :-)" He performs the song with Stevie Wonder on this CD.

"Hunted," Cowboy Junkies, Pale Sun Crescent Moon, BMG/RCA 1993 (Rock/Pop), Order at

This is a song about the daily vulnerability of women's lives. Lyrics

"I Feel So Different." Sinead OConner. I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got. Emd/Chrysalis; 1991. (Pop/Folk/Rock) Order at Amazon.

I received this suggestion anonymously, with the following comment: "i don't know if it's really about abuse but i know that after the concussions ,broken bones, black eyes, and more bruises than i could ever count, this song gave me a sense of peace with what i had been through, i described my feeling's so well." Lyrics

"I Get Out," Lauryn Hill, MRV Unplugged No. 2.0, Sony 2002 ( Hip Hop/Rap/Crossover) Order at

Cindy writes: "Very powerful for someone on the road to recovery. " I get out of all your boxes, I get out, you can't hold me in these chains, I'll get out. Father free me from this bondage Knowin' my condition Is the reason I must change..."

"I Lie Still," Bitch and Animal, What's That Smell, Deep Dive Productions 1999 (Hardcore Rock, "Not for the Faint of Heart") Order at

Reflections of a daughter caught in a cycle of incest.

"I Want to be Loved" Bon Jovi, Have a Nice Day. Island Records 2005.

This song is about moving on from child abuse.

"I Owe You One", Garthwaite, Sorrels & Hawkins Live at the Great American Music Hall Flying Fish 1993 Order at

"Everyone familiar with the cycle of spousal abuse should listen to Hawkins' solution in "I Owe You One" It brought the rest of the house down. " (Folk/Womens)

"I Will Not Lie," Kati Mac, Time Orchard 2000 Order at

A song about incest.

"I Will Stand Fast", Fred Small, I Will Stand Fast Flying Fish 1989 Order at

About supporting a survivor of child sexual abuse. (Folk)

"I Would Be Stronger Than That", Maura O'Connell, Blue is the Colour of Hope WEA/Warner 1992 Order at

About a woman in denial about domestic violence (Folk)

"Icy Barrel of a Loaded Gun", Darcie Deaville,Tornado In Slo Mo Redwing Music 1999 (Alt.Country/Folk) Order at

This specific song is about Darcie's personal experience of having been molested by her grandfather, and her resolve that "Nobody's ever gonna hurt me now, it's something that I will not allow." The entire CD is a survivor's journey.

"I'll Tell On You," Lenore, Summer Dancing, 2002 Order at

From the composer: this song was inspired by all those victims of childhood sexual abuse who have had the courage to come forward (even years later) and "tell" and thus perhaps inspire, or give courage to those who may yet escape the clutches of a predator. the song is told through the eyes of a child - the first verse starts "i think you're looking at me a little too intensely your eyes just linger a bit where they shouldn't be....."

"I'm OK," Christina Aguilera, Stripped. RCA 2002. (Rock) Order at

"This song is about a grown child addressing her father about the abuse she witnessed as a child against her mother. Powerful stuff"

"I'm Still Standing" Elton John Greatest Hits 1976-86 and elsewhere. Order at

The submitter writes: "now I know this isn't about abuse, but having been a victim of emotional, verbal, physical and sexual abuse , this song ALWAYS cried out to me. Because I hoped that when it was all said and done, I could say that I was still standing."

"In My Room" Martin Page, In the House of Stone and Light, Polygram 1994. (Pop) Order at

A song about abuse from a child's point of view, witnessing his mother's abuse. Highly recommended by Brandi at the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

"In the Dark (A song for battered women)" J.D. Smith, Conscious Earth 2011 J.D. Smith website

J.D. writes: I am raising money through my all original C.D. for a battered women shelter here in Athens Georgia called Project Safe. I was a victim of domestic violence and so was my back up singer Sherri Tanner. That is why this project is so near and dear to our hearts.

"(The) Incest Song", Buffy Sainte-Marie, It's My Way! Vanguard 1964 (Folk) Order at

"Independence Day", Martina McBride, The Way That I Am RCA 1993 (Country) Order at

"The album's key track is the powerful "Independence Day," Gretchen Peters' groundbreaking table turner about a battered wife who burns house and hubby to ashes one symbolic July 4."

"Indirectly Yours," Cindy Lee Berryhill, Naked Movie Star, Rhino Order at

A woman writes about her sister's abusive relationship.

"Island ", Heather Nova, Oyster Also included on Lilith Fair Volume 2, 1999 (Rock) Order at

A song about the isolation a woman feels in an abusive situation. "And I don't know why I can't tell my sister, He spat in my face again, and I don't want to die here. You know that dream when your feet won't move, you want to come but your body won't let you. He steals it from me . . ."

"It's the Fear, " Within Temptation, The Silent Force 2008

Gemma writes: ***This is a rather gothic take on the dark ,emotional side of the after effects of sexual/domestic abuse. It captures the intensity of the negative feelings at their worst. Definitely not a 'healing' song. May be triggering.***

"I've Got To Go Now", Tony Childs, House of Hope, A&M 1991 (Rock/Pop) Order at

A woman leaves her abusive husband. (See also "Daddy's Song")

"Janie's Got a Gun," Aerosmith, Pump, UNI/Geffen - September 1989 (Rock/Pop) Order at /// Lyrics

A man sexaully abuses his little girl and she gets her revenge after years of abuse, shooting him and throwing him under a train.

"Jenny," Cathy Grier, Retracing, Shane Music 1998 (Folk/Blues)

"Jenny" is a bittersweet story of a young girl trying to find her identity in the midst of a dysfunctional homelife, and pressures at school, that leads her to suicide.

"Just One Word"  Jonatha Brooke and The Story, Grace in Gravity Elektra 1992 (Folk)  More at

"It is a song about a woman tormented by her inability to speak up for herself against her abuser...the song ends with the word we all wanted to scream.......NO!"

"Keeping This Life of Mine (Song for Battered Women)" , Kristina Olsen, Love, Kristina Philo 1993 (Folk/Womens) Order at

Kristina says, "I wrote it about a friend of mine who was in an abusive relationship. She ended up in the hospital and at that time realized she had to get away from this very abusive man, but she had no self esteem left. She finally said, "I'm keeping this life of mine" and walked away. I was so impressed with the courage it took her to do that that I wrote this song from her point of view. The nice tag to her story is that she's doing great now."

"Kid Fears" Indigo Girls, Indigo Girls Sony 2000 Order at

Vicki writes: " At one time I thought this might be about child prostitution, or about child sexual abuse, it was less clear to me what the actual source of the trauma is, but the words and music together are so filled with shame and anguish and anger and regret-I was entranced and frozen to the bone the very first time I heard this song.  It was the first song that allowed me to let go and to feel something about what had happened to me for so many, many years as a girl."

"La La Rosie Goes," Terri Allard, Loose Change and Spare Parts, Reckless Abandon Music (Folk) Order at

Terri says, " This is a song about a woman who has stayed in an abusive relationship 30 years too long. She doesn't have the strength to leave this man physically so she checks out mentally."

"La Nina," Aventura, Un poquito de to' Volumen 3 Bachata Merengue Salsa Reggaeton Download at

Probably not a song one would expect to find on a Salsa album. The first verse translated means:

The girl is sleeping tight
Only a fire or a gunshot could wake her up
So innocent just 9 years old
And maybe tomorrow she won’t understand
That a stranger in her bed
Touched her little body cunningly, without mercy
She doesn’t understand there are people
In life who enjoy themselves simply by doing evil Lyrics

"Lament", Si Kahn & John McCutcheon, Signs of the Times 1986 - Reissued on CD 1994 Order at

The story of a young woman in prison for shooting her abusive husband, a Viet Nam Veteran. (Folk/Acoustic)

Last to Say (The), Atmosphere, The Family Sign Listen/download at

"Leg Trap," The Plaid Tongued Devils Running With Scissors 1994.

"This song is about piecing your life back together after an abusive relationship and having to live with the past still haunting you."

"Letter to Mom", Iris Dement, Way I Should WEA/Warner Brothers (Folk/Country) Order at

An adult woman tries to deal with the past, in which she was sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend.

"Letter to a John", Ani DiFranco, Out of Range 1994 (Folk) Order at

"Liar" Rollins Band, Wait Imago Records 1994 Download it at

Trevor K writes: I came across your list when I was looking for material to play at a local ‘white ribbon’ event trying to get men to publicly stand against domestic violence. One song that I had already thought of was the chilling ‘Liar’ by Henry Rollins off the album ‘Weight’. The song moves between ballad and heavy rock as Rollins takes on the persona of an abusive man who repeatedly offers fake apologies, only to then laugh at the woman for believing him. The clip has him as two personalities reflecting the radically contrasting seductive verses with the violent choruses. It’s a powerful way to bring home that you can’t trust the abuser.

"Light in the Hall" Fred Small, Jaguar Flying Fish 1991 Order at

Child abuse as told through the eyes of the child. (Folk)

"Lily of the Valley" Judy Collins, Shameless. Mesa,1995 (Pop/Contemporary Folk) Order at

Pattered after a traditional ballad, this song tells the story of a woman who kills her husband after years of humiliation and abuse, and is hanged as a murder.

"(The) Little Girl," John Michael Montgomery Brand New Me WEA/Atlantic 2000 (Country) Order at

This song is about a little girl that has to deal with violence and her father killing her mother and then himself.

"Little Susie" Michael Jackson History Past, Present and Future - Part 1 Epic 2007 (Pop)

A little girl dies from abuse and neglect - if you search this title you will find quite a bit of discussion online regarding the "deeper meaning" as it might be reflected in Jackson's own life.

"Little White Lies", Annie Wenz Time Is Magic Order at

Annie is both a performer and RN/Wellness Educator. Her grandmother was 8 months pregnant when she was beaten by her drunken husband, losing a baby and acquiring a "family secret." Annie's memorable song explores the issue of those "little white lies" that keep such secrets hidden in abusive families.

"Live to Tell" Madonna, Immaculate Collection. Warner Bros 1990 Order at

It's not clear, but several people have told me they interpret this song as being about child molestation.

"Long Way To Happy," Pink, I'm Not Dead. LaFace 2006 Order at

"Seems to describe a sexual child abuse survivor's journey to being happy and being able to love again.  Thanks to you years ago I guess I'll never know what love means to me." Lyrics

"Louisiana Air", Angela Motter, Pleasure and Pain Hey Mister Records 1999 (Folk/Funk) Order at

Helen Sherman of Wild Woman Radio in New Hampshire sent me this one, saying "On first listen I found it incredibly powerful. A woman sits on her porch with a shotgun on her lap waiting for her man to come home; when he does, she shoots him. She shoots the sheriff too, when he comes around. So far you figure she's just a homicidal maniac, but the killer lines are at the end, something like, when I saw the scars on her face, I saw I hadn't realized how badly he beat her up & maybe I should have reported the abuse..."

"Love is Blind", Eve, Eve: Ruff Ryders,' First Lady Uni/Interscope 1999 (Rap) Order at

A woman is killed by her abusive lover, and her friend vows revenge. This CD is available in two versions: explicit and edited.

"Luka", Suzanne Vega, Solitude Standing and Tried & True plus various compilations including Grammy's Greatest Moments Volume 3. (Pop/Rock) Also on Respond II

An unforgettable song that exposes domestic violence through the eyes of a child, Luka.

"(A) Man's Home is his Castle," Faith Hill, It Matters to Me, WEA/Warner Bros 1995 (Country) Order at

A man presumes it's his right to take out his rage on his family.

"Marlene on the Wall", Suzanne Vega, Tried & True (Best of Suzanne Vega) Import 1999

This CD also contains "Luka" (Rock/Pop)

"Me And A Gun" Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes (Rock) Wea/Atlantic 1992 Order at

This song helped create the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, which Tori sponsored.

"Me and Emily." Rachel Proctor, Where I Belong. BNA 2004. Listen / Order at Amazon (Country)

A woman escapes from an abusive marriage to protect her daughter.

"Mercy Street", Peter Gabriel, So, Virgin 1986 Folk/Pop Amazon

This song about the legacy of incest was dedicated to Anne Sexton.

"Mistaken Identity", Fred Small, Jaguar Flying Fish 1991 (Folk) Listen Order at Amazon

A man tries to support and awaken love in a woman who has been abused by her previous lover. Lyrics

"My Skin", Natalie Merchant. Ophelia 2012. Listen / Order at Amazon

"Never Again" Nickelback, Silver Side Up. Listen / Order at Amazon

A song about abuse from a child's point of view, witnessing his mother's abuse. Highly recommended by Brandi at the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

"Never No More" Aaliya, Aaliya. Edel 2004. Lyrics |||Order at Amazon

This is a song about a woman who has seen the change in her man's behavior and she won't take it anymore. "Now, trust me when I say, 'You have been told', I'm telling you never to touch me no more...." She also talks about how she should've left when she first saw the change, but didn't do so. "I should have left you when you twist back my arm, but the man I thought I knew would do me no harm....

"Never Too Late" Three Days Grace One-X Jive 2006 Amazon MP3/Album

Tiffany writes: "It's about a girl who is sexually abused by her father, she ends up in a mental institution. The angel of death kills the father at the end and the daughter is "better". Way too powerful of a video, I'm still in awe of it."

"Nightmare," Gaye Adegbalola, Bitter Sweet Blues, Alligator 1999 (Blues) Amazon

A song about incest. See also "You Don't Have to Take It"

"Nina, Fight Back!", Holly Near, Simply Love: The Women's Music Collection Calico Tracks Music, 2000 Order at Amazon

This anthem of the domestic violence movement was originally recorded on Redwood Records Imagine My Surprise. It's great to have it back in print!

"Not to Blame." Joni Mitchell Turbulent Indigo Warner 1994 Order at Amazon

Michelle writes: "In fact, most of this album relates to abuse from one perspective or another, including "Sunny Sunday," "the Magdalene Laundries," and "Sire of Sorrow." "Not to Blame" describes the justification of an abuser: "she was out of line," and he "was not to blame" and in the end,  Joni reminds her that HE was out of line.

"Not Wit a Dealer" MC Lyte, Eyes on This, 1989 (Rap) MP3 at

A woman tries to warn her friend that it's dangerous to "love" a dealer, and that gifts are not worth the ultimate price she's going to pay.

"Now that I'm On My Own" Farmer's Daughter, Makin' Hay, Big Ride Entertainment 1996 MP3 at

A reader writes: "When I left my abusive husband, this song helped me feel strength in the choice I made. It acknowledges that things may be hard, while reminding that things will be better."

"Oh Father." Madonna, Like a Prayer. Warner Bros. 1989 Pop Order at Amazon // Lyrics

Most people know this as "You can't hurt me now."

"Once Like You", Jackie Tice, Blue Coyote, Saja Maka Music 1997 (Folk)

A song about child molestation in which a mother, remembering her own lost innocence, as she watches her child.

"One Day I Went Out Walking," The Molly's, This Is My Round 1995 Apolkalips Now! (folk) by Nancy McCallion Listen/Order at Amazon

"One day I went out walking on the lonely road to town

in the cracks where the river used to flow a stranger held me down

I used to laugh so loudly so happy to please myself

Now I'm constantly looking for what I might fear and I scarce see anything else "

"One Hit Leads to Another", Connie Kaldor, Gentle of Heart Coyote 1989 Order at Amazon

"Only Women Bleed" Alice Cooper Welcome To My Nightmare ©1975 Atlantic/WEA 1990. Order at Amazon /// Lyrics

"The song describes the cycle of domestic violence, complete with periods of calm and affection, physical and psychological abuse, and tension building. The fact that it's slow, almost pretty, makes it all the more powerful. Covered by John Farnam, Lita Ford and Tori Amos at different times."

"Out of Range," Ani Difranco, Out of Range, Righteous Babe 1994 (Rock/Punk) Listen/Order at Amazon

About a woman who needs to get "out of range" of an abusive relationship.

"Overwhelming," Everclear, Good Time For A Bad Attitude Part 2. (Rock/Punk) MP3 at

Michelle writes "This song has empowered me and inspired me in some of the hardest situations of my life."

"Pacific Coast Highway," Sonic Youth, Sister , UNI/GEFFEN/DGC 1987 (Rock) Listen/Order at Amazon

Thanks to Rodney for submitting this one. He writes: "Kim Gordon sings about a rape on the highway, but from the perspective of the rapist. Its hard to explain without hearing it, but the effect is really powerful-- Gordon unleashes the rage and fear that the woman is feeling, while coopting and ultimately undermining the power of the male."

"Part Time Mutha" Tupac Shakur, 2Pacalypse Now Jive, 1991 Listen/Order at Amazon

A girl is raped by her father, but her mother doesn't believe her story. "Gotta believe in him, and dissin her own daughter"

"Perfect", Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill Warner Bros. 1995 (Rock/Pop) Listen/Order at Amazon

This song is more about emotional than physical abuse, "conditional love" when a parent who tries to live through a child. "We'll love you just the way you are if you're perfect."

"Pierrot The Clown" Placebo Meds Virgin (Alt Rock) 2007 Listen/download at Amazon

Very literal song about an abusive relationship.

"Prince Charming Doesn't Live Here" Gerri Gribi, Womansong Collection CD and also Prince Charming Doesn't Live Here - Cassette Lilyfern 1996 (See also "We Say No" and "The Crafty Maid's Policy") ///Download this MP3

Based on true stories of women who survived both domestic abuse AND the welfare system, Gerri wrote this for the award-winning documentary "Poverty Shock." Gerri's catalog and lyrics.

"Problem Solved" Martin Zellar, Born Under Rykodisc 1995 Order at

A woman decides the "easy" way out when dealing with her bully husband is to surrender. "She's not stupid, she's just scared."

"Pulling Teeth", Green Day, Dookie Reprise 1994 Order at

About someone trapped in an abusive relationship and can't see a way out by themselves:

"Purple Tatoos," Cathy Jean, Marshall Road Apocalypse 2000 Order at

Clay writes: "The song's about a woman who get beat by her husband on a weekly basis and finally has enough, and has her bruises turned into purple tattos to remind her."

"Push" Matchbox 20. Yourself or Someone Like You. Atlantic 1996 Order at

Amazon calls this "an exhilarating feminist anthem disguised as just another relationship-on-the-rocks song"

"Rap Against Rape" Isis, This Is Isis: Collected Recordings Independent, 2000 (Explicit) Download at Amazon

Chloe writes: "This is a cool rap debunking a lot of rape myths. A very positive song."

"Rat" Train. Train Sony 1998. Order at ||| Lyrics

Describes the abuse a former girlfriend is experiencing, and the fact that it isolates her.

"River Blue" Oh Susanna Songbirds: The Essential Album Vol. 2 , Manteca, 2002 Listen/Order at Amazon

An older sister regrets not having been able to protect her younger sister from abuse.

"Rosie Strike Back", Roseanne Cash, King's Record Shop, Sony Music 1988 (Rock/Pop) Listen/Order at Amazon

This song by Eliza Gilkyson about fighting back against domestic violence has been recorded several times, but this is perhaps the most accessible recording.

"Run", Sweet Honey In The Rock, twenty-five, Rykodisc 1998 Listen/Order at Amazon Also on Respond II

Presents the reality of what happens when women refuse to accept domestic violence...that it's not simply a matter of walking away unscathed.

"Run For Your Life" The Beatles, Rubber Soul 1965 (Rock) Listen/Order at Amazon

Remember this Golden Oldie? "I'd rather see you dead little girl than to be with another man..." A good example of how the acceptance of violence permeates our culture and is even viewed as romantic. Thanks to music journalist Steve Webb for pointing out this is inspired by "Baby Let's Play House," Elvis Presley. He writes, "John, I think, regretted writing "Run for Your Life" for the final 10 years of his own life."

"Runaway Love, " Ludicris & Mary J Blige Release Therapy DTP/Def Jam 2006 Listen/Order at Amazon

A little girl is trapped by her mother's bad choices.

"Russian Roulette," Edwin McCain, Honor Among Thieves 1995 WEA/ATLANTIC/LAVA (Rock) Listen/Order at Amazon

"Pack up your ego and your tantrum, put it back with your anger and your pride, beating up on your girlfriend, ain't gonna change anything inside "

"Safe at Home", Kate Long, Life of My Own Edna (Folk)

A woman celebrates something she's never experienced before: Feeling safe in her own home. "I have a daily miracle - Nobody's pushing me around..."

"Safe Tonight" Alice Di Micele, Searching. -Alice Otter,1992. (Contemporary Folk) Order at Amazon

A friend tries to convince an abused woman that she deserves better.

"Seventeen, " Kristin Graves, Singing for Hope 2010 (Contemporary Folk) Listen/Order at CDBaby

A young woman finds her voice, and the strength to leave an abusive relationship, because she wants to raise her child in a world free of domestic violence.

"Sex Type Thing," Stone Temple Pilots, Core (Rock) Listen/Order at Amazon

The person who submitted this title wrote: refers to how a women deserves what they get because of the way she dressed. The song even claims she wants "what's on his mind"....he can't understand how wrong he is, and that is really the genius of the song.

"She Can't Feel Anything Anymore," Paula Cole, Harbinger WEA/Warner 1994 Listen/Order at Amazon

A woman gets caught in the cycle of violence when she is assaulted by a friend who hasn't resolved his own problems. Lyrics

"She Fell Down the Stairs," Reg Meuross & The Flamingos. Arrested. Also on Reg Meuross, The Goodbye Hat - Special Edition. Round Tower 1996. (Folk/Roots/Country) Available from or

A woman makes up stories to explain away her injuries and protect her abusive lover.

"She Sits on the Table", Tom Paxton, Best of Friends (Folk) Listen/Order at Amazon

An abused wife contemplates her lot while sitting in the doctor's examining room.

"She Won't Be Walking", Sally Fingerette, Ghost Town Girl (folk) Listen/Order at

This song was inspired by an incident several years back. Governor Celeste of Ohio pardoned several women who were imprisoned for killing abusive husbands, on the grounds that they suffered from Battered Wife Syndrome when they committed their crimes. The ending of the song in purposely confusing. Sally writes, "I love the debate that incurs....Did she kill him. Did she shoot the gun? Did he shoot her, and she died and flew away? I won't answer that, I'll let the mystery be!"

"Shoot," Sonic Youth, Dirty, UNI/GEFFEN/DGC 1992 (Rock) Listen/Order at

Thanks to Rodney for suggesting this one. He writes: "This is a brilliant song which explores the feelings of an abused woman who fantisizes about shooting her abusive lover-- although she does not, which only makes the song more realistic and poignant."

"Silent, Silent", Sally Fingerette, My Good Company Shanachie 1998 (Folk) Listen/Order at Amazon

A song about being "sshhed" into a submissive existance.

"Silhouette of a Dancer" Delain, Lucidity Sensory Records 2010 Listen/Download at Amazon

Anna writes: When I started healing from CSA and rape, this song was my first acknowledgement. I sat frozen and crying for 15 minutes or more after I heard it. I still love it. The music is a mirror to my own feelings sometimes.

"Sister", Creed, My Own Prison, BMG/Windup 1997 (Rock) Amazon

A song urging a woman to open up about incest.

"Sister," Jamie Anderson, A Promise of Light Tsunami 2005 (Singer/Songwriter) Amazon

A woman kills her abuser.

"Sleep", Stabbing Westward, Wither Blister Burn & Peel, Columbia 1996 (Gothic Alternative Rock) Amazon

A reader comments: "This song describes the despair felt by a child who is the victim of incest, and her withdrawal from reality in order to escape the horror of the situtation, sort of like in the movie "Closet Land".

"Sleepless Commotion," The Murmurs, Pristine Smut UNI/MCA 1997 (Rock/Pop) Listen/Order at Amazon

This song deals with the murder of band-member Heather Grody's mother by her husband.

"Smooth Criminal," Michael Jackson, MP3s at

There is debate as to whether this is a song about domestic violence, or a murder by a'll find various interpretations on the web but the end result is: "Annie" does not survive the encounter. One utterly ridiculous interpretation is that this song is about Annie Oakley. Except for the repetition of the phrase "Annie are you OK?" there is NOTHING to suggest this. And for the record: Annie Oakley was NOT a Wild West gunslinger, she was a professional sharpshooter and performer. She died of quite natural causes, followed not long after by her husband and life-long love, Frank Butler. Read her real story elsewhere on my website.

"Something Rotten" Placebo, Sleeping With Ghosts Listen/download at Amazon

A song about sexual abuse as a child. The lyrics are very simple and "off the top of the head". Not very literal.

"Special Needs" Placebo, Sleeping With Ghosts Listen/download at Amazon

Liz writes: Tonight I had a chat with a few friends of mine and one friend brought up an article on a band we're all fans of which mentioned how "endearing" the band's large collection of love songs was. It is not the only time I've seen this band's songs described as "love songs" when many are about failed and/or abusive relationships.

In Special Needs, The singer is talking to a past abusive lover, telling them to remember their battered ex when they reach their dreams/goals.

"Speak," Greg Winkler, Laugh a Little Larger. Magnetic Bee Music, 2005. (Acoustic Singer Songwriter) CDBaby

A song about overcoming childhood sexual trauma.

"(The) Stairs," Reba McEntire, The Last One to Know, MCA 1989 Listen/Order at Amazon

"In anger he strikes out and she cries how much more can she take how much more can she lie. And she fell down the stairs again."

"Stand Up," Adema, Unstable MP3 at Amazon

Danielle writes: "It's about a controlling, abusive relationship and the singer is telling her to stand up to him before he kills her."

"Steady As She Goes", Brian McNeill, No Gods Greentrax Records, 1995 Listen/Order at Amazon

A woman leaving an abusive relationship. (Folk)

"Sting of the Honeybee" Diane Ziegler , Sting of the Honeybee, Philo 1995 (Folk) Listen/Order at Amazon

A reflection on when romance turns to violence.

"Stitch in Time," Martin Carthy, Right of Passage Topic 1998 (Folk) Listen/Order at Amazon
(Also found on Peggy Seeger, Familiar Faces.)

This traditional sounding song is based upon an urban legend. An abused wife decides to modify her husband's behavior by sewing the drunkard into his bed while asleep one night, then giving him a good thrashing back in the morning. She says:

"If you ever come home drunk any more, I'll stitch you in and I'll thrash you more

"Then I'll pack my bag and I'll be out the door, I'll not live with a drunken husband"

The words were written by Mike Waterson and put by Martin Carthy to a traditional tune called "On board of a man of war").

"Stitch That!" Chumbawamba. Shhh. Southern Records 1997 (Alternative)

An adaptation of the Martin McCarthy Song "Stitch in Time" by Brit anarchist/alternative band Chumbawamba. Lyrics Thanks to Ann Haugo, Department of Theatre/Women's Studies Program,Illinois State University, for sending this song, and who writes: I teach an intro-level women's studies course, and I often follow the unit on violence with resistant music -- partly to lighten the mood a bit but mostly so that students aren't left with the image of woman-as-victim."

"(The) Storm Rages On...", Leora Salo, Remember Me, 3 Sisters Music (folk)

Victims dealing with the memories and anger of being sexually assaulted. It is one song in a trilogy of songs of remembering and recovery.

"Suffer the Little Children," Pat Benatar, Wide Awake in Dreamland MP3 at Amazon

“Suffer the little children At the hands of evil men No baby dolls, no teddy bears No lullabies for them”

"Sullen Girl", Fiona Apple. Tidal, Work/Sony 1996 (Pop/Rock) Listen/Order at Amazon

A young girl is raped and left to pick up the pieces- her family wonders why she is suddenly so withdrawn.

"Take Care of Your Little Girls," Kathy Kallick, Reason and Rhyme, Copper Creek, 2004 (Folk, Acoustic) Listen/Order at Amazon

Written from the point of view of a young girl who was molested by her step-grandfather.

"Take care of your little girls
Keep a close, close watch on your little girls
Listen so closely to what they say
There ain’t a little girl born that would lie that way"

"Tears Roll Down." Tears for Fears The Seeds of Love. Polygram 2001 Listen/Order at Amazon

Tara writes: "I am surprised you don't have Tears For Fears' "Woman In Chains" listed. It's easily the best track off of "The Seeds Of Love". Oleta Adams lends her beautiful
vocals to this tune, and the black-and-white video very tastefully depicts an unhappy exotic dancer trying to cope with her angry man."

"That Guy," Tori Amos, Abnormally Attracted to Sin, Universal Republic, 2009 (Rock) Listen/Order at Amazon

A man who can't cope with life takes out his anger on his loved ones.

"This Picture" Placebo, Sleeping With Ghosts Listen/download at Amazon

Song about a failed abusive relationship, warning others to not get in the same situation.

"(The)Thunder Rolls", Garth Brooks, No Fences EMD/Capitol 1990 Listen/Order at Amazon

This song and video about wife beating, made country music history ... and controversy. In the lyrics, the story seems to be about a wife who is tired of being cheated on by her husband, so she shoots him one night. But the video is about domestic violence, with Brooks playing the husband who clobbers his wife. She shoots him, presumably to defend herself and her children. Yet another ambiguous one!

"Things a Mama Don't Know" Mica Roberts with Toby Kieth, Things a Mama Don't Know (Country) Show Dog 2008 Listen/download at Amazon

Like wakin' up to broken dreams every day
Like knowin' there's a little one on the way
Like believin' that someone you love can change
Like hidin' the bruises on my face
Just for everyone else's sake

"Till Death Do Us Part," Madonna, Like a Prayer. Warner Bros. 1989 Pop Order at Amazon // lyrics

An abused woman clings to her abuser hoping he'll change.

"To Be Or Not To Be," Lori B, Hurricane Child, pARADOX aRTS (Folk/Contemporary) Listen/Order at Amazon

Lori writes, "Child-like in its simplicity, To Be or Not To Be is a chilling anthem about a girl who is attacked by someone she knows and left for dead. Awakening in the woods, she faces the age old existential question: whether to live or to die... "

"Truth No. 2" Patty Griffin, Dixie Chicks, and others. MP3s at

This song is addressed to an abusive lover after the relationship has ended.

"Twisted Ballerina," Jayne Sachs, Sutures 2005

Winner of the the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. A child's love of dance is "twisted" by her uncle's perversion.

"Two Beds and a Coffee Machine," Savage Garden, Affirmation, Columbia 1999 Read more at

Reflects on the cycle of violence in a family.

"Two Little Girls," Ani DiFranco, Little Plastic Castle 1998 (Folk) Listen/Order at Amazon

Lesbian domestic abuse is a quite common, underrepresented topic. Abuse comes in many forms, from physical to emotional and everything in between. Ani addresses this topic through her experiences with a friend whose involvement with heroin is a result of her girlfriend.

"Under My Thumb" The Rolling Stones (orig. release 1966) Aftermath Abkco 1990 (Rock) Lyrics

"Unnatural Shades of Blue," Jonathan Kingham, Hardwood Floors 1999 Listen/Order at Amazon

Jonathan says, "A close friend of mine described to me what it was like for her to be in an abusive marriage. It made me furious and I didn't know how to respond and had no way to even closely relate and this song was the result."

"Until You Can Forgive", Chuck Brodsky, Letters in the Dirt Red House 1996 Listen/Order at Amazon

Chuck told me, "The song is written from a man to his partner who was sexually abused as a child. It's compassionate, and the forgiveness I wrote about is the woman forgiving herself, not the perpetrator of the abuse."

"Valentine's Day is Over", Billy Bragg, Workers Playtime WEA/Elektra 1988 (Rock/Pop) Listen/Order at Amazon

A woman laments the turn her marriage has taken...for the worse. Also recorded by June Tabor on Freedom and Rain, 1990 Rykodisc

"Victory Day," Tom Cochrane and Red Rider, Victory Day, EMI 1988 (Rock) MP3 at Amazon

"The secretary at the women's studies dept I work at sent me the info on your web pages and thanks for the free song downloads! Much appreciated (I'll be playing them next Monday for the last lecture in my intro to women's studies class at the University of Ottawa here in Canada). Thought you might like to see if you can find this song: I play it in my women and violence lectures. (late 1980s - a big hit on Canadian mainstream rock radio).

"It's about the singer (I assume a friend) and how he's trying to support a female friend to leave her abusive husband/boyfriend."

"Voices Carry", 'Til Tuesday. Voices Carry Sony/Columbia 1987. Amazon Also on Coming Up Close: A Retrospective at Amazon. (Pop)

This classic got quite a bit of airplay in the late 1980's, and is available on CD. A batterer silences his wife.

"Waitin' on Sundown." Andy Griggs. You Won't Ever Be Lonely - MCA, 1998 (Country) Listen & Order at Amazon

Song about a young man who helps a co-worker escape an abusive marriage.

"Walk", Ann Reed, Life Gets Real Turtlecub Productions (Folk/acoustic) Listen/Order at Amazon

Encourages a woman to leave domestic violence.

"Walk Without Fear," Jody Kessler, Leap of Faith, In the Moment Productions

This song was written at the request of a rape crisis center that wanted a song that could be used in their educational programs with young people. It has an empowering message and dispels some of the myths surrounding rape and sexual assault.

"Walkin' Thru the Park," Muddy Waters, Many versions available, including "Walkin' Through the Park. Muddy and Wolf. (1991) See More at

In this blues classic, a man thinks about his abusive wife as he walks in the park to get some time away.

"Warrior," The Wyrd Sisters, Inside the Dreaming 1994 Listen/Order at Amazon

Written by Kim Baryluk, Ladyslipper describes this song as "an acapella feminist anthem equal in impact to Ferron's Testimony."

"I can and will fight, I can and will a warrior be, It is my nature and my duty, It is the sisterhood in me"

"Walking Waste of Time", Dana Cooper, Miracle Mile Compass 1997 (Contemporary acoustic) Listen/Order at Amazon

In this song, a woman finally realizes she isn't going to change an abusive partner, that "She could not feed his angry need" and leaves.

"Wash Away Those Years", Creed, Human Clay, Bmg/Wind Up 1999 (Rock) Listen/Order at Amazon

A song expressing the thoughts of a sexual assault victim.

"Watch Me Bleed" . Tears for Fears, Hurting, 1983/ Mercury 2001. Listen/Order at Amazon

A song about childhood abuse (sexual and/or violent) from the eyes of the adult survivor. Lyrics

"(The) Way of Men", Linda Allen , Mama Wanted To Be A Rainbow Dancer Nexus Records 1982

Insightful, thought-provoking look at battering from the woman's view (Folk)

"We Say No!", Gerri Gribi, Prince Charming Doesn't Live Here (1991 cassette) (See also "Prince Charming Doesn't Live Here"and "The Crafty Maid's Policy") Folk/Women's Lyrics

Based upon a true story in which a Green Bay woman was murdered by her husband. One neighbor was quoted as saying "Well sure, we knew he beat her up sometimes but we didn't think anything of it. Doesn't every guy do that?" The chorus of the song is "We say NO!" Download this MP3

"Wednesday's Child", Leslie Smith, These Things Wrapped Waterbug 1995 Listen/Order at Amazon

"An arresting portrait of an abused daughter." (Folk/Pop)

"What About" Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope Virgin Records 1997 (Soul/R&B) Read more at Amazon

A woman finally opens her eyes, and questions why she has remained with an abusive man.

"What Would You Do?" City High, City High , Interscope 2001 (Hip Hop/ Rap) Read more at Amazon

Story of a woman who turns to stripping as a way to escape her violent father and support her child.

"What's the Matter Here?" 10,000 Maniacs, In My Tribe WEA/Elektra 1987 (Folk/Rock) Listen/Order at Amazon

The singer angrily laments that she is afraid to get involved with an observed situation of ongoing child abuse.

"What's Wrong with this Picture?" Mary Ann Vorasky, Too Close on Purpose 1999 (folk) Listen/Order at Amazon

Looks at sexual assault and women's tendencies to deny it and/or blame other women for it.

When Angel Gets Blue. Rod MacDonald, Recognition. Wind River 2003 (folk) Listen/Order at Amazon

"It's about what causes someone to become emotionally and physically abuse, and the emotional effects experienced by the other spouse. The song is presented from the viewpoint of a wife who still loves her husband and believes her spouse is underneath it all, a gentle and loving man."

"When She Runs", John McVey, Circle of Friends BWE Music 1998 (Acoustic) Listen/Order at Amazon

A poignant song about a woman who is making the choice to leave an abusive relationship. The song deals with all of the conflicting feelings she has as she "runs" from the situation. John was named Artist of the Year by the National Academy of Songwriters for this song.

"Where Are You?" Wilson Philips. Shadows & Light. EMD/Capitol 1992 (Pop) Listen and Order at

Roberta writes: "It seems to me, that it perfectly decribes the dis-association that so many victims/survivors use to cope with the shame of sexual assualt." Lyrics

"Where the Wild Roses Grow" Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue. Where the Wild Roses Grow . Mute 2002 (Alternative Rock - CD Single-Import) Order at Amazon

This song (a huge hit in Australia and Western Europe) is the perfect example of romaticized/eroticized violence against women. Read the Lyrics

"Who Will Hold Me?" Amy Fix, Spoon The Orchard, 2002 Order at

A song about a mother who molests her child.

Why Don't You Leave Him?", Mary Lee's Corvette, True Lovers of Adventure, Wild Pitch Records Listen/Order at Amazon

Mary Lee Kortes writes: This song was written in reaction to a startling statistic--that 75% of all women who are killed by their husbands or lovers are killed AFTER they leave. I thought it was a very good answer to the question "Why don't you leave him?" Because, as the song says, "He said he'd kill me, and I believe him."

"Winnie and Sam", Peggy Seeger, Period Pieces: Women's Songs for Men & Women 1998 Listen/Order at Amazon

This is a reissue of Peggy's famous song first recorded on the out-of-print "Different Therefore Equal." Winnie is an abused wife who takes her husband Sam to court...and wins. (Folk) Lyrics

"Winter on the Weekend," Julia Stone, The Memory Machine, Discograph 2011. MP3/Album at Amazon

Online discussions don't have a clear concensus as to the meaning of this song. Is it about rape? Murder? Incest? I only know several people have suggested it because it speaks to their situation. Lyrics.

"Woke Up This Morning". Alabama Three. (A3) Exile on Coldharbour Lane. UNI/Geffen 1997. (Acid/House/Country/Rock) Available at Amazon Read Lyrics

Philip, who suggested this song, writes: "it's used as a main theme to the Sopranos television series. The band members have repeatedly said in interviews that the song is about Sara Thornton. Sara Thornton was a British woman who was controversially convicted of our equivalent of first degree murder after stabbing her violent husband to death as he lay drunk. She was subsequently released after the charge was reduced to manslaughter, the case sparking off a major feminist campaign to change the law on premeditation. I regularly listen to the song, and I can't hear it in the lyrics, but maybe you can."

"(The) Wolf", Catie Curtis, Truth From Lies EMB/Capitol 1996 (Pop/Rock) Listen/Order at Amazon

"The wolf" in this song is a mother's abusive, live-in boyfriend.

"Woman Go," Joe Purdy, Stompin' Grounds MP3 at

Maria writes: "This song is about a woman whose partner verbally and physically abuses her when she refuses to acquiesce to his disrespectful demand for her to bring him some water. In response to what the listener can assume to be long-sustained abuse by this man, she does decide to bring him the water; poisioned. He drops dead in a bitter but redemptive ending."

"Wounded" In Your Absence, Confession The Orchard 2005 Order at

Steve from the band writes: "Our album has several songs on it that were written by our singer as she has been healing over the years. The best example songs would be 'confession' and 'wounded'."

"You Don't Have to Take it Like I Did", Gaye Adegbalola, Bitter Sweet Blues, Alligator 1999 (Blues) Listen/Order at Amazon

Gaye is a member of Saffire the Uppity Blueswomen. This song is written to give hope & courage to those in abusive relationships. (See also "Nightmare" on the same CD)

"You Think You Know Somebody." Tod Snider, Songs for the Daily Planet. MCA Nashville 1994 Order at Amazon. // Lyrics

The singer's abused boyhood friend grows into an abuser himself.

"Zero Tolerance," Clare Mooney, Slow Riot, WRPM (Women's Revolutions Per Minute) Clare Mooney

A song written for the feminist anti-violence against women public awareness campaign against all forms of violence against women and children.

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Punk/Alternative Titles

"Alive" SR-71, Now You See Inside. RCA 2000 (Punk/Alt) Order or listen at Amazon

"The song is from the point of view of a (male) friend of an abused woman who has left and is trying to put the past behind her and begin anew. "She'll find strength in her anger and the truth in his lies / When the last scar finally fades she'll have a new life"

"Always" Saliva, Back Into Your System. Island 2002 (Punk/Alt) Order or listen at Amazon

"The song is from the point of view of an abused woman and hints at the emotional abuse involved in the relationship. "I see the blood all over your hands / Does it make you feel more like a man?"

"Candyman" Siouxsie and the Banshees. Tinderbox. Geffen1986 (Punk/Alternative) Order or listen at Amazon

The "Candyman" is a pedophile.

Clumsy. Samiam. WEA Atlantic 1994. Order or listen at Amazon

Related songs are about the repeated cycle of violence in families, including "As We're Told" (a man is confused about his identity after having grown up with an abusive mother, herself an abused child) "Capsized" (an adult child of an abusive father finds himself imitating the father in relationships) and "Stepson" (a reflection on the death of an abusive stepfather.)

"Date Rape," Sublime, 40 oz. to Freedom, MCA 1992 (punk/alternative) Order at

"This song is about a girl who is taken advantage of on a date, and how the rapist gets what is coming to him."

"Domestic Violence" RZA as Bobby Digital Order at

Rob writes: its not a typical depiction of abuse,as it is a two way argument,but it is representative of how manipulation one way,can meet abuse the other

"Out of Range," Ani Difranco, Out of Range, Righteous Babe 1994 (Rock/Punk) Listen/Order at Amazon

About a woman who needs to get "out of range" of an abusive relationship.

"Polly." Nirvana, Nevermind. Geffen Order at

Based on the actual kidnapping, rape and torture of a 14-year-old girl. Read story and lyrics.

"Rape Me." Nirvana, Nirvana. Interscope 2002. Order at

Robert writes: "It's written from the perspective of a woman being raped. She's thinking to herself "Go On, Rape Me" because she knows he will get it worse in prison."

No Va Haber Revolucion, Los Crudos, Canciones Para Liberar Neustras Fronteras

"if we do not see the day that women do not have bruised bodies, eyes blackened, bloody lips

do not come talking this revolution sh*t to me, because it will not ever come..."

"Unspoken Request", Boy Sets Fire, Eulogy, Victory Records 1999

Talks about the feelings of both the rapist and the victim.

"Refusing to be a 'Man'" by Propagandhi on Less Talk, More Rock

"A Challenge" by Dead Silence on their benefit album for a Colorado Rape center

"Best Friends Forever" by 7 Days of Samsara on Reason to Sing

"Witness to a Rape" by Born Against on Industrial Relations

"Love//Hate" by Dystopia on Human Garbage

"Equal" by Godless on Godless

"No Means No" by Hellnation on their Split 7" with Sink

"Ultimate Violations" by Spitboy

"Pity the Man With the Fast Right Hand" by The Smalls on Waste & Tragedy

"frat pig" by Tribe 8 on FIST CITY (alternative tentacles records)

CHORUS LYRICS: "frat pig, it's called gang rape, let's play gang castrate"

"star bellied boy" by Bikini Kill on PUSSYWHIPPED (kill rock stars)

"suck my left one" by Bikini Kill on THE C.D.VERSION OF THE FIRST TWO RECORDS (kill rock stars)

"white boy" by Bikini Kill on THE C.D. VERSION OF THE FIRST TWO RECORDS (kill rock stars)

"dead men don't rape" by 7 Year Bitch on SICK 'EM (c/z records)

"I wanna know what love is" by Julie Ruin (aka Kathleen Hanna) Julie Ruin, Kill Rock Stars 1998

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Sexual Assault Awareness Month - April

In the late 1970's women began organizing "Take Back The Night" events to create awareness of sexual assault, and over the years various organizations and events developed throughout the United States. Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) was first observed nationally in April 2001. You can read the complete history at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) website.

New! Circle of 6 App - Winner of the White House Apps Against Abuse Technology challenge launched by Vice President Joe Biden and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Circle of 6 is a tool that meets young people where they are and offers concrete strategies for supporting each other, whether safety threats are coming from intimate relationships or potentially dangerous social situations.”

Domestic Violence Awareness Month - October

Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). The intent was to connect battered women's advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became a special week when a range of activities were conducted at the local, state, and national levels.

In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year the first national toll-free hotline was begun. In 1989 the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month Commemorative Legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress. Such legislation has passed every year since with NCADV providing key leadership in this effort.

New! No More: NO MORE is a groundbreaking symbol designed to galvanize change and radically increase the awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault in our communities. Let’s end the shame and stigma. Get and share our symbol. Join the domestic violence and sexual assault movement in saying NO MORE…

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