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Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault: Songs of Survival and Affirmation

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Updated 01/14/15 /// Copyright 2002 Gerri Gribi

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. Now retired, for 30 years she traveled North America performing her one-woman show A Musical Romp Through Women's History. Learn More

Spotlight! Respond - by Various Artists, Signature Records1999

Respond is a compilation to benefit Respond Incorporated, a non-profit organization that has provided confidential, free services for battered women and their children in the Boston area since 1974. The compilation was 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!

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." This one was highly recommended by several people 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

A music CD collection of 8 moving soft rock recovery songs which help survivors relate to, and identify, their feelings.

Inner Chambers by Deb Criss

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


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

A woman packs up her children and her life to move away from an abusive man.

"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.

"Be a Voice for the Children," New Vision, The Gift. 2006 (Christian) CDbaby

"Best Friends (The Unicorn Song)" Margie Adam The Best of Margie Adam (Acoustic)

A wonderful song about discovering that your best friend is you!

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

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

"Black Eyes Blue Tears," Shania Twian, 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."

"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..."

Crafty Maid's Policy." , Gerri Gribi, The Womansong Collection (CD-1996) and also Prince Charming Doesn't Live Here (Cassette - 1991) (Traditional) Lyrics at Gerri's site ||| Download this MP3

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. Download this MP3

"Cruel Youth" , Gerri Gribi, The Womansong Collection (CD-1996) and also Womansong (Cassette - 1984) (Traditional) Lyrics at Gerri's site /// Download this MP3

In this American version of a British ballad, also known as The Outlandish Knight, a young woman outwits a man who plans to murder her, then sings "Six pretty maidens you drowned here, now go keep them company."

"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

"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!!!

"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 begged 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 (reissued in digital format 2012) Amazon

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..."

"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.

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.

"I am Woman" Helen Reddy, Greatest Hits Capitol 1991 Order at

"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 Will Survive" Performed by: Gloria Gaynor (Disco) Order at

Many versions of this classic are available.

"I'm Coming Out," Diana Ross, Forever Diana Mowtown Order at

"In This Heart" Sinead O'Connor, Universal Mother Capitol 1994 Order at

Savannah "from the other side of the world" wrote to say this is one of her favorites, a lullaby for your inner child found at the end of the film "No child of Mine."

"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."

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

A woman leaves her abusive husband.

"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."

"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.

"Middle Class Doors", Jennifer Berezan, Eye of the Storm Amazon

Jennifer writes: "A number of years ago I worked at a Women's Emergency Shelter. My experience there of working with a diverse group of women who were victims of battering lead me to write the song. It's a song about the horrible reality of domestic abuse, but it is also a call for empowerment and freedom."

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" "Single Life" and "The Crafty Maid's Policy")

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. /// Download this MP3

"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.

"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..."

"Single Life" Gerri Gribi, The Womansong Collection, Lilyfern Records, 1996 (Folk) /// Download this MP3

The traditional song says "Single life is a happy life, single life is lovely, I am single and no man's wife, and no man shall control me!"

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

A woman leaving an abusive relationship. (Folk)

"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.

"Warrior," The Wyrd Sisters, Inside the Dreaming 1994

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"

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 ||| Download this MP3

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!" Ordering info found at or click here to go to Gerri's Recordings. /// Download this MP3

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.

Wild Women Don't Have the Blues," Ida Cox, Complete Recorded Works, Vol 2 1924-1925 1995

A blues classic about a woman who doesn't put up with violence...or anything else for that matter!

"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

"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)

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

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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