Compiled for young people, youth workers, parents and
by the Community of Women and Men in Church and Society
of the Methodist Church of New Zealand -
Te Haahi Weteriana o Aotearoa
© The Community of Women and Men in Church and Society
P.O. Box 5076, Dunedin, New Zealand
Young victims of sexual abuse and harassment can find through appropriate fictional characters in credible situations avenues to assist in their coping with such issues - including the strength to confront their situation.
In the area of sexual abuse high quality fiction is required which can provide a mirror to young readers' uncertainties and which might go some way towards proffering positive guidance.
Many teachers, youth workers and parents are unaware of the growing number of high standard novels being written for the teenage / forms 1 to 5 market on or around the topic of abuse. What follows is an annotated list of contemporary novels for this group which deal with the topic of sexual abuse.
Together these titles cover the range of issues in the overall term "sexual abuse" - incest, sexual harassment, molestation, sexist slurs and date rape. These novels do all this unobtrusively in the context of strong, interesting and enjoyable story lines with highly relevant characters. As the annotations will show, in some books the abuse theme is secondary.
It is pleasing to notice the number of excellent New Zealand titles which are appearing on this topic. This is not an exhaustive list, as sexual abuse and all forms of such harassment are being increasingly dealt with through modern teenage literature. This bibliography will be regularly updated on the website, and as an annually printed edition.
At the conclusion of the annotations there is a bibliography of periodical articles which will provide further information on both the topic and some of the individual authors listed.
The books listed are not all in print, nor available in every public and school library. They are, however, available through the interloan service provided by your local public library. The National Library is the other main source for New Zealand schools.
Publishing houses and dates are as on the editions seen by the compiler. Titles can change with publishers; and foreign editions may be more readily available than the original UK, US, or Australian ones. Also paperback editions are often issued by other publishers. (Any good bookshop or library will check this.) Thus no ISBN numbers are given, as these change with new editions.
High quality and specialized bookshops will order titles still in print
from overseas, where market regulations permit. In New Zealand
and Australia such shops include:
Auckland Campus and City Branch
Fax to both: (09) 309 4278
19 High Street
Fax (09) 373 4883
75 Taranaki Street
Free Phone 0800 755 355
Victoria University Book Centre
1 Kelburn Parade
119 - 125 Willis Street
Fax (04) 385 4956
|Palmerston North||Bennetts University Book Centre
Phone (06) 354 6020
Sheppard Book Shop|
145 Manchester Street
Phone (03) 379 0784
Fax (03) 379 1769
University Bookshop Canterbury
Phone (03) 348 8579
79 - 83 Hereford Street
P.O. Box 2376
Phone (03) 379 2882
Fax (03) 379 2886
Bookshop Otago Ltd|
378 Great King Street
Fax (03) 477 6571
207 Oxford Street
New South Wales
Phone (02) 9331 1103
135 Commercial Road
Phone (03) 9824 0110
The Little Bookroom
185 Elizabeth Street
Phone (03) 9670 1612 (03) 9602 1392
Fax (03) 9670 4440
435 Portrush Road
Phone (08) 379 7022
Fax (08) 379 5884
Murphy Sisters Bookshop
240 The Parade
Phone (08) 332 7508
Fax (08) 331 3559
Sisters By The Sea
14 Semaphore Road
Phone (08) 8341 7088
Fax (08) 8242 4100
The twelve offerings in this collection arise out of true
teenage experience, and include examples of more than one type of
sexual abuse/harassment. The closeness of the pieces to their
youthful authors sharpens their impact.
Eight short stories for teenagers with the authors including
Margaret Mahy, Jan Mark, and Aidan Chambers,
whose The Kissing Game is a chilling tale
about falling in love for the first time and trying out one's self image on
another person. Years after being shamed during a playground
kissing game teenage Jamie attempts to befriend Rosie, who in turn
exacts a terrible revenge on him for a group abuse by her boyfriend's gang.
Sixteen Australian writers weave different events around a
famous Aussie painting of a girl in a blue dress.
Penelope Rowe's First Dance ends with a fatal
date rape on a beach after a surf club dance.
Five short stories about five different teenagers. In
Josie a young and naive girl experiences humiliation and abuse
at a local hop while on holiday with her family.
Several of these eleven fine contemporary stories are quite
overpowering. The Favourite by Jacqueline
Wilson gives a credible account of a girl's infatuation for her
High School teacher. In return she is abused by the
adult, leading to the teenager's resentment.
Coober, the first story in this raw collection
about often alienated teens, explores the result of sexual
abuse upon a young footy-playing Aussie called Gary.
After being 'touched up' by a truckie from whom he's accepted a
lift, Gary seriously questions his sexual orientation
because, to his utter confusion, he 'sorta liked' the
Badly injured in a car accident caused by her drunken and sexually
abusive father, fourteen year old Tanya guiltily traumatises herself
into a fantasy world. Losing her speech, she retreates
from memories of the paternal incest and attempts suicide before finally
being drawn from her cocoon.
Stolen from hospital at birth seventeen years previously,
Samantha is sought both by her twin brother, Scott, who's just
discovered he's adopted and the accomplice of the nurse abductor
(who also wants the nurse). Scott is aided in his race to beat
the accomplice by Lauren who's escaping sexual harassment at a foster
home. Inclined to be a B Grade novel.
Known only as "the girl", a young teenager
trapped in her extended and poor sharecropping family in rural
Arkansas dreams of her mother returning to rescue her.
Meanwhile Uncle Les, with the reputation for liking 'little
girls', persistently sexually molests her. A
depressingly realistic tale of human survival.
Troubled by an alcoholic father, seventeen year old
Stephen finds real friendship and emotional empathy with
Charlotte, a classmate who has been abused by her father.
Although the novel centres on Stephen and his self-acceptance of
being gay, Charlotte's situation is a vital element in the
Memories of being 'fondled' by an abusive shopkeeper at ten
return for Maggie five years later when local ten year old
Caroline disappears. Helped by two school peers,
Amy and John, she tries to build a case against her
'strange' neighbour. John has a scrambled personality
- although seemingly an immature teenager, his
kisses, which are oddly adult, stir Maggie's
emotions. Finally John is revealed as Caroline's
sexual killer, his personality problems the result of
paternal sexual interference. And the strange
neighbour? The abduction of his wee daughter years
before had caused him a mental breakdown. A fast-paced
novel drawing in the myriad consequences of youthful sexual abuse.
A moving tale of how fourteen year old Cathy is left to cope
with the traumatic after-effects of a rape by her mum's de
facto. Until she can work through the issues,
pain, guilt and anger are the norm for Cathy.
Bigotry surfaces at Minitown High when a popular male teacher
sexually assaults a delinquent fifteen year old female pupil with
only a black boy and a gay student teacher witnessing the
Upon leaving a Melbourne night club early on Sunday morning,
nineteen year old Vinny is abducted, drugged and, from
his blurred memories, indecently assaulted.
Coming to his senses in a suburban train he discovers he has lost
a whole day. That missing period is systematically
tabulated by Vinny's family and friends in a tightly framed plot
which illustrates the plight of other 'lost' teens.
How Vinny was conned by his abductor is a valid lesson.
Tom and Anna fall in love over two brief weeks while Anna
visits her Aunt in Tom's hometown. Clements
encapsulates the tension the passing of time inflicts on the two
sixteen year olds. A hovering cloud over the romance
is Walter, a trusted family friend of Anna's older,
but dead, brother Bobby. Walter sexually forced
himself onto Anna at Bobby's funeral and she looks to Tom for
This chronicles the complex events which dominate Rowan's life
and relationships once Eleanor, her mother, is
sexually assaulted at work. A unique approach in this
All seventeen year old Anne wanted in 1995 was a sumer of
romance with her decidedly unromantic boyfriend. What
she gets is a time trip back to 1895, a fine Victorian
mansion, a passionate friendship with a young Yankee aristocrat
and involvement in a murder mystery. Anne begins to appreciate
that, with the accepted sexual abuse and harassment of servants by
macho male masters, society's attitudes to women have not changed in
many respects over the past century. An enjoyable and convincing
time travel novel.
A superbly crafted novel set on New Zealand's Tasman coast with
two main plot threads. While trying to winkle from
Jenny, her Bohemian-style solo mum, who her dad
is/was, teenager Liz befriends Marion, the ostracised
daughter of the local 'magnate'. Slowly Marion gains
the confidence to reveal to Liz a history of paternal sexual
interference. Liz's secure, if rather
topsy-turvy domestic life is contrasted to Marion's, where
an earlier sibling's death changed her parents' marriage for
ever. The ethical and psychological change in Marion's
mother is realistic.
Triathlon competing is complicated for teenager Dillon by his
whole family being in dysfunctional mode, including his
older brother having blown his brains out in Dillon's presence.
Then his girl friend, Jennifer, tells him about the
continually debilitating sexual molestation she suffers -
first from her father and now from her malevolent step-father.
Attending an alternative school for problem pupils,
Dianna pals up with Stacy who is a victim of parental sexual
abuse. Though the novel focuses on Dianna's issues.
the portrayal of Stacy and her father is a sharp one.
In his final year at Senior High School Ryan finally overcomes
past injuries and stars in the school's baseball team.
Josh, a new friend, poses an integrity test when Ryan
observes him taking part in a cruel act of sexual harassment
against a femal classmate. A most readable novel.
Ryan's family life, his own determined self motivation and
earlier obsessive need for Josh's friendship, plus the
sexist, macho culture of America's high school baseball and grid iron
fraternity, these are all vividly captured.
In free-form poetry we try to unravel a teacher's murder.
We hear from various pupils, ex pupils and colleagues of the
victim, including a student who claims she had an affair with
him. Everyone's attitudes are realistically depicted.
Uncle Vampire catapults us into the mangled emotional
existence of sixteen year old Carolyn. Because the
reality of her uncle's sustained sexual abuse is too horrendous to
handle, Carolyn fantasises that he is a vampire who takes her blood
and that of an imaginary twin sister. We follow events from
Carolyn's confused and confusing reflections and it is only in the final
pages that the full impact is felt.
Fifteen year old Mary's growing emotional attraction to her
teacher, James Flichet, is reciprocated by the forty
five year old man. However, this is not a novel
of misconduct; rather James, despite his poignant need
for affection, respects the essential boundaries twixt pupil
and educator. What James does give Mary is a vital sense of her
own self worth which helps her overcome a desperate need to love and be
valued. A masterly book which authenticates the mutual urges
within individuals which can lead to the boundaries between generations
being disastrously broken.
Here is unfolded the series of events occurring for a teenager
after she has found the courage to confront parental sexual
abuse. Lisa's only stable aspect is her boyfriend,
Mike, who loves her despite her self guilt.
Attempted suicide, hospitalisation, self doubt and
humiliation, plus a driving need to be whole, are
Lisa's lot. A graphic novel.
A lonely travelling artist stops at a caravan park on an isolated Aussie
farm to discover the family from Hell. The Willows household is
Hitchcockian in its twisted diversity. Ruled by a brutal and
physically abusive dad, the adult children remain trapped in
child-like amber, their mature dreams of normal careers beyond
achievement. The artist lures into the daylight at least one
case of incest between the siblings, an exposure which wreaks havoc on
the farm menage. A gripping tale.
Fourteen year old Charles is from a dysfunctional family and
develops a close emotional bond to the disfigured Justin -
an adult loner who successfully coaches Charles for an entrance
exam. When events reach a crisis at home,
Charles and the gay Justin share a brief sexual encounter.
The incident temporarily affects Charles in a negative way until
he appreciates that he is not gay. Justin has allowed
boundaries to be crossed. The incident, and
Justin's gayness, are omitted from the recent film of the
Gilly is being sexually molested by her father while her mum is at
work. Although she hates this attention, it is the
realisation gained from a new friend that this is not right which encourages
Gilly to tell her mother. A novel for those Standard 3/4
A valued, if slow paced, novel in which we follow
the developing friendship between Abbey and Crisp, often
stopping off during their years in between thirteen and eighteen
to catch certain pivotal incidents. The astute reader
early recognises the pointers which the maturing Crisp later appreciates
when he learns about Abbey's dad and his sexual activities against
her. Crisp's perceptive love and accompanying frustration is
heightened by having to accept his own inability to do more than just wait
supportively. There are no immediate 'happy ever
afters' for the pair, but Abbey is seemingly successfully
completing her counselling, and with Crisp's readiness to hold back on
sexually expressing their love the future appears promising.
Published in America as Abbey My Love.
Flick, the product of a wealthy if mixed up home,
uses charm to manipulate her peers at a private American boarding
school. Bi-sexual, she enters into a physical relationship
with a girl two years her junior. Although the author is
inclined to be over the top at times, Flick's account of sexual
exploitation by her stepfather is convincingly real.
A cheery tale in which Marc gains sober insights into society's
attitude to child pornography when his innocent photos of his
eight year old sister raise a storm. Told with Klein's
innate but sympathetic humour.
Cloe is eighteen when she finds the body of Janey, her
best friend, gang raped and murdered, lying in a car
wrecker's yard. This compelling Australian novel
reveals both Janey's life of family incest and the stabilising
influence Cloe and her family provided. Slowly Cloe
sifts through the issues of Janey's life and death with the aid of
positive supporting friends.
In this, his first novel, Lasenby, in a
graphic and minute way draws on his own extensive outdoor
experience to introduce us to Ruth, surely the prototypal
good keen kiwi girl. Sexually assaulted by her
stepfather at the onset of puberty, Ruth escapes to the
bush, the lore of which she absorbed well from her dad.
Chelsea is a sixteen year old Canadian who is being subjected
to continuing sexual interference from her mother's fiancé
and pyromania is one reaction Chelsea has to the abuse.
She is encouraged to confront her problems during a visit to
cousins. A taut novel.
A group of teenage girls from an American inner city project
help break the effect of their environment through a female track
team. Natonia, one of the team, has been
sexually molested by her uncle, but the main character is
Kisha whose mother struggles to go to work against the wishes of a
physically abusive, unemployed husband.
Janie has many emotional hurdles to overcome -
including the sexual attentions of her mother's live-in
boyfriend. With the encouragement of friends,
the teenager is confident enough to share her problems with a
It is 1829 and, alone in early Western Australia,
sixteen year old Sarah must find ways to support herself and
younger half brother. Her story is retold from several
perspectives - including Sarah herself, her
letters, her employers, and the Aborigines who,
in befriending her, draw Sarah into the Dream Time of their
existence. At the root of Sarah's struggle is the
vicious sexual assault inflicted on her by a female care-giver earlier on in
England. The realism of River Child engenders
strong emotions in the reader.
While being physically examined, fourteen year old Mac is
indecently assaulted by the male doctor. What actually
happens is never stated but the effects on the boy are vividly
tabulated. Mac experiences denial, guilt,
confusion as to sexual orientation, a sense of inferiority
and a general turbulence in his personality and relationships.
Finally, an empathetic counsellor breaks through Mac's
barriers. A skilful novel.
For thirteen year old Lizzie this was THE summer; the
time she experienced her first period, had her beloved horse
Shadow put down, commenced High School, helped her best
friend maimed in a farming accident, and gained the courage to stop
her older, adopted, brother's sexual harassment. A
confident novel by a Kiwi writer.
While visiting Phoebe, her New Zealand grandmother,
sixteen year old Abigail learns about her life in a Lower Hutt
orphanage in the late 1930s. Abuse in all its forms
- physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual
- was employed by a powerful matron as she held her charges by
terror. Marshall has a very matter-of-fact style.
Ali is the leader of a high school terror group and the
cretinish bullying of an inexperienced teacher is typical of their
sophisticated finesse. The novel unfolds to show Ali's
growing understanding that at the base of his thuggish actions lie
the sexual attentions of his step-father. With this
self awareness comes change in all levels of Ali's life.
Mazer writes a searching and complex account of the reactions
to a brief harassing encounter Rollo inflicts on Valerie in Junior
High School. Both teenagers share in the recounting of
events and the various attitudes among the wider community are
Fifteen year old Alex is blind to both her eighteen year old
boyfriend Cliff's possessive nature and the danger signs in his
dysfunctional family. Alex's besottedness means she can forgive
Cliff when he slaps her, but not, finally, his date
Adri has some strange memories lying in the corners of her
mind. Younger sister Becky's experiences at Adri's old
play school, coupled with her own intensifying affair with
a special boyfriend, bring the past back to Adri and help
her rescue Becky and her peers from a dangerous abusive situation.
Rather inclined to take a clinical, case-book approach,
this New Zealand novel tells of young Megan reporting her father's
sexual abuse along with the resulting police and departmental
involvements as they were in 1987. After several very
stressful months, Megan begins to feel she is on the way to a normal
Stephanie (or 'Stevie' to her friends) at seventeen
is in the third year of a sexual relationship with a male teacher
at her private American boarding school. It takes the
acceptance of her growing lesbian relationship with a peer to show
Stephanie that the teacher's approach has been abusive. An all
round excellent novel.
Wednesdays are when, on having her braces checked,
eleven year old Becky is sexually molested by her dentist.
Her parents, related to the perpetrator, seem unable to hear her
complaints. Becky's situation is, however,
appreciated by a perceptive teacher. While aimed at
Standard 3 - Form 1 level, this novel effectively captures the issues
Although this masterful novel is about a teenager's maturing
within the framework of a brutal jungle war, a subsidiary
character throughout is 'Prick Head' Hillyard, a former
Australian teacher whose predatorial homosexual activities at a
Sydney High School cause his sudden resignation.
A keen Aussie surfer, young Justin teams up on the local
beach with a co-enthusiast called Brad. Justin soon
finds that Brad inhabits a cave above high tide as a refuge from
sadistic home violence and hinted sexual abuse.
Justin's concern is genuine but his conservation-orientated
parents appear overdrawn. A highly readable book for those from
Standard 3/4 upwards who are into surfing action.
Teenager Louie undertakes a picaresque journey to find his
drifting and dreamy father. En route he has a scary
hitch-hiking incident when a somewhat odious man makes sexual
advances. Louie escapes unharmed and without any ill
Dolly moves through her final high school year: a time
when she appreciates the individual, is apart from her twin
sister, finds a steady boyfriend, and realises her
potential in maths. Sexual harassment is a constant
fact of life for this feisty Aussie teenager with real charm.
There are yahoos yelling obscenities from cars at traffic lights
and the shopkeeper who will greasily caress her hand if she's not
quick with the change. Such everyday, almost
unnoticed, annoyances are mused on by Dolly.
It is 1967 and while in a Texan home for pregnant teenagers Anne works
through her situation. Others are in the same boat,
including Cheri, seduced by her minister, and Gracie who was
raped by her father. A sober novel about a time when unwed
mothers were a family's greatest shame. Anne comes to a greater
understanding of herself, her home and her fellow inmates before
giving her baby girl up for adoption.
While on a beach holiday with her sister and solo dad, sixteen year
old Melissa is raped one summer's eve when she sneaks a visit to a local
pub. The event and its subsequent trauma shatters her childhood
and alters all her relationships.
Despite being a disruptive troublemaker in school,
fifteen year old Zoe hides the secret of paternal incest against
herself and an older sister. Through the touching bond
she establishes through email with Sally, her form teacher,
the teen is able to confront the molestation. Zoe and
her family rise out of the printed records of the computer
correspondence as highly credible individuals.
At seventeen years of age, Tom tries to locate his sister Sylvia
whose existence had previously been unknown to him. He discovers
that Sylvia was the victim of sexual abuse from their father and bears the
physical and emotional scars.
At sixteen, Kelly finds that her dead mother's high
school diaries reveal a saga of family sexual abuse.
Learning how her mum survived to reach a state of tranquillity helps Kelly
as she wrestles with the usual teenage issues. A highly credible
New Zealand novel.
For all her thirteen years Harper has moved with Kitty,
her solo mother, from one housekeeping job to another.
Sometimes the positions are with single men, one of whom,
Thorn, begins to press his attentions on Harper.
The incident comes at the novel's beginning and seems to serve
only to precipitate a further move for Harper and Kitty.
Still, an ably written New Zealand story.
Upon her family moving to a new home, Syb is ejected onto
a big dipper of esoteric experiences and quirky individuals.
Included is Jon-ged who in a former life worked his own brand of
brutal ethnic cleansing on the house's site and in this world is
a rather nasty paedophilic photographer. And there is
Hille, the housekeeper-cum-medium who 'sees' several levels
of existence at each turn. All this other cyberspacial
commotion is boosted by the latest internet link-ups.
Heady enough mixtures for characters and readers alike but do not
be lulled - the camera happy man's abusive activities
are central frame in this invigorating and unique Aussie teenage
This novel tabulates the bitterly disputed gang rape of Cara
Snowden and its sequels as viewed by three of the teens intimately
involved - including the victim herself and the girl friend of
one of the perpetrators. Cara is developmentally
challenged, and naively desperate to be liked and
included. Although a peer of the senior high school boys accused
she is, in the words of Laura Jean the girl friend, 'like a five
year old'. Universally trusting Cara innocently accepts the
youth's perverted attentions
because she views them as friends. Righteous macho
male stereotypes, protection by influential people,
and various other social attitudes all interweave in this
compelling, if heartrending saga. That the event
is rape is obvious to the reader, even later to Laura Jean,
but not to the youths concerned or their families and peers.
The intercourse scenes themselves are realistically reported.
The butt of the classroom jokes, Rosie Perkins lives with
an alcoholically depressed mother and a possessive father to whom
she is his 'little princess' - a term she hates.
A platonic relationship develops between Rosie and Michael, a high
school peer who, along with his family, befriends
her. Maltreated by her dad physically, Rosie also resents
his close cuddling but nothing further is hinted at. Along with
the reader, however, Michael's mother is suspicious.
A worthwhile New Zealand book.
A stark novel which focuses on a knife to recount the day when
eighteen year old Tish finally 'loses it' after a life of constant
sexual molestation from her step-father. Seizing on
the maxim that the truth sets one free she desperately, if
guiltily, wrestles with the conflict between silence and
revelation. Ultimately, driven to the edge of
endurance, Tish acts.
While meeting on the Net, two New Zealand teenagers catch
a man who is using the system to sexually harass and then attack
girls who are home alone.
Kim is a seventeen year old Sydney school girl living, in
a delightfully matter-of-fact way, with the realisation that
she is probably a lesbian. A secondary concern for
this breezy teen is her Uncle Bob's ongoing sexual interference
with her. The discovery that he has begun inflicting his own
daughter with his attentions finally jolts Kim to confide in her mother from
whom she receives supportive help. Walker has an acute ear for
contemporary Aussie teenage dialogue and this is a robust, highly
The twelve year old daughter of a black university professor,
Marie is attracted to Lena, a poor white girl in a
predominantly black high school. Drawn together by the
mutual circumstances of being motherless, the two share
family secrets. From Lena an almost disbelieving Marie
learns about a continuing family incest which eventually causes
Lena to run away. This is a brief, exceptional
and positive novel in which the loving and safe relationship
between Marie and her dad is a vital ingredient.