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116 Songs About Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

FlourishAnyway believes there is a playlist for just about any situation and is on a mission to unite and entertain the world through song.

Spread awareness about domestic violence and child abuse with a playlist of pop, rock, and country songs.  Be part of the solution.

Spread awareness about domestic violence and child abuse with a playlist of pop, rock, and country songs. Be part of the solution.

The Dangerous, Ugly Cycle of Domestic Violence

Chances are that you know someone who abuses his or her partner or children. They could be a relative, coworker, neighbor, someone you go to church with, even your child's teacher or coach.

Perhaps you want to dismiss that as an unlikely possibility or as someone else's problem. However, domestic abuse crosses all socioeconomic, demographic, and religious boundaries. Here's the ugly truth:

  • Every nine seconds in the United States, a woman is beaten.
  • Ten million American children are exposed to domestic violence each year.
  • Long-term impacts of child abuse include higher risks of smoking, drinking, and sexual activity at an early age; illicit substance abuse; criminal activity; teen pregnancy; adult psychopathology and suicide; and even heart and liver disease decades later.
  • Children who grew up in abusive homes are at a three-fold risk of perpetuating the cycle.

Outside of the secrecy of home, the vast majority of abusers are law-abiding citizens without criminal records. However, the trauma that they inflict can last a lifetime.

One way you can help spread awareness about the epidemic of domestic violence and child abuse is through music. Make a playlist of pop, rock, and country songs about this painful, moving topic that impacts so many lives.

You can also be attentive. Lives may depend on you noticing and reporting what you see. (Click here to learn about traits and warning signs of abusers or here regarding what to do if you think someone is abusing a child.)

1. "Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride

This heart wrenching 2002 country song features an abused little girl who packs her own lunch and walks to school in the same dress she wore yesterday. She hides bruises and the awful secret of how they got there.

Although a teacher wonders about the child's home life, no one dares to ask or intervene. Without a lifeline, the sad little girl becomes a cemetery concrete angel, eyes cast skyward. Her spirit flies away to a place where she is finally loved.

2. "Cherry Wine" by Hozier

Conveyed from the perspective of the battered partner, this 2016 pop song highlights the confusion, justification, and self-blame felt in abusive love relationships. The narrator is involved with a woman with an icy stare and a bad temper, and he unfortunately mistakes her outbursts as love:

The way she shows me I'm hers and she is mine
Open hand or closed fist would be fine
The blood is rare and sweet as cherry wine.

3. "Luka" by Suzanne Vega

Abuse victims often provide similar rationales to others for their wounds: "I'm clumsy" or "I walked into the door again." Those are some of the reasons the protagonist gives for her injuries. She is a young girl named Luka, and she addresses a downstairs neighbor in her apartment building who must've heard the abuse late at night. Dutifully trying to protect her abuser(s), Luka tries to convince the neighbor that it's all under control.

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The 1987 pop tune became an international hit. This was the same year that lawyer Joel Steinberg and companion Hedda Nussbaum were charged with the beating and subsequent death of an illegally adopted six-year-old child in their care. The case received national attention.

Steinberg ultimately was convicted of manslaughter but is out on parole today. Meanwhile, Nussbaum, a battered person herself, escaped punishment and now lives under an assumed name.

4. "Never Again" by Nickelback

Children who are trapped in their parents' abusive marriages experience more trauma than their parents understand. In this 2002 rock song, a child describes his drunken father using his mother as a punching bag. He subsequently instructs her to tell the emergency room nurse that she slipped and fell.

When the violence repeats itself, the battered woman pulls a gun on her husband in self-defense. All of their lives are about to change permanently.

5. "Alyssa Lies" by Jason Michael Carroll

Based on a true story of a little girl who was abused, this 2007 country song was so emotionally grueling to write that it took the singer-songwriter two years to complete. It also gave him migraines.

The tune portrays a girl whose school playmate lies to classmates and others about her bruises to protect her abuser. The daughter realizes something is wrong and asks her father why Alyssa lies. Before the father could report the suspicions to authorities, the classmate had been beaten to death by her abuser.

6. "Because of You" by Kelly Clarkson

This 2005 ballad reached the top of the charts and became an international hit. It describes the lasting impact of growing up with psychological abuse. The narrator attributes her overcautious, untrusting tendencies and fear of taking chances to her father. The harsh criticism she endured has left her with a deep sense of shame.

One-quarter of all adults report having been physically abused as children.

One-quarter of all adults report having been physically abused as children.

7. "Behind the Wall" by Tracy Chapman

Every night the neighbor in this 1987 pop song hears the screaming and loud voices in the adjoining apartment. From experience, she has learned that it's pointless to call the police because nothing will be done.

Not being able to help makes her feel victimized as well:

And when they arrive
They say they can't interfere
With domestic affairs
Between a man and his wife
And as they walk out the door
The tears well up in her eyes.

8. "Kiss With a Fist" by Florence + The Machine

These two so-called lovers need to be separated for their own safety. Neither love nor affection is supposed to physically hurt, but the narrator in this 2008 pop song doesn't understand that.

She and her lover trade escalating hits, punches, slaps, and even broken bones. They confuse their mutual violence for love or something like it. Hey, break it up, go get healthy, and don't date anyone until you do. (Florence Welch alleges this song isn't about domestic violence, but I'm not buying it.)

9. "The Little Girl" by John Michael Montgomery

Even if you aren't religious, this 2000 country song will tug at your heart. It describes the young daughter of an alcoholic father and drug-addicted mother. The child thought she was fending for herself.

Poorly parented, the girl was left alone to watch television all day while her parents battled each other and gave in to the worst of their substance abuse. During the most unbearable moments, she hid in fear behind the family sofa. That's where she crouched when her enraged father turned a gun on both her mother and himself one night, making her an orphan.

In her foster home, she went to Sunday school for the first time and saw a picture of Jesus on the cross. Immediately, she recognized Him as the same man who hid behind the couch with her that fateful night.

10. "Run for Your Life" by The Beatles

When you think of The Beatles, chances are the first thing that pops into your mind is not the misogynistic death threat in this 1965 rock song. However, let's be honest: Mr. Peace and Love, John Lennon, did hit women and children.

Primarily a Lennon composition, this sinister ditty speaks for itself:

Well, I'd rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or you won't know where I am.

11. "Warrior" by Demi Lovato

The narrator in this 2012 pop song recalls experiencing childhood trauma, a criminal act that changed her forever. She regrets that she was forced to grow up too fast and for so long felt broken and bruised. However, now, she wears her pain like a battle scar and describes herself as a warrior and a survivor.

Studies show that one in five girls and one in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse, although these numbers could be higher because such abuse is often not reported.

12. "Hush" by Hellyeah

Frontman Chad Gray and others like him have grown up within an abusive environment that many of us can only imagine. This 2014 heavy metal song is about that hell. It describes what can go on in emotionally and physically unsafe homes: insulting names, beatings to the point that the narrator peed his pants, screams, and strangleholds.

The song was meant to spark conversations about domestic violence. Chad Gray wanted others who had experienced abuse like he did to know that they are not alone. He also had this message about domestic violence:

Life is full of forgiveness, and I’ve had to forgive to live a more settled life. So forgive, lay down your arms, be a better person and take a stand with me.

13. "Gunpowder and Lead" by Miranda Lambert

Don't try this at home. In this sassy 2007 country song, the narrator was beaten by her live-in lover. Now, she's toting a loaded gun and is seeking revenge.

After topping up on liquid courage, she waits by the front door with a loaded shotgun, cigarette hanging from her lips. She's waiting for her abuser to return from his all-too-brief stint in jail.

Ominously, she warns, "His fist is big, but my gun's bigger. He'll find out when I pull the trigger."

14. "Two Beds and a Coffee Machine" by Savage Garden

Trapped in a relationship where she's a human punching bag, the woman in this haunting 1999 pop song often takes her kids and escapes the abuse, even if it's just for a short time. They spend the night in cheap hotels with two beds and a coffee machine.

Unfortunately, with groceries and other bills, she feels the economic pressure to keep returning home. She wonders how they will ever make it through.

15. "What's the Matter Here?" by 10,000 Maniacs

Bystanders are so afraid to get involved, but that's one reason why an estimated five children die every day from child abuse and neglect. Natalie Merchant, who wrote the song, based it on a real family who once lived nearby.

The 1987 rock song profiles a woman who realizes that her neighbors are abusing their young son. She hears the threats of violence and sees their half-naked child run into the yard, looking for a place to hide. Rather than calling authorities, however, she hesitates, struggling with whether to speak up or continue to mind her own business. What would you do?

16. "Church Bells" by Carrie Underwood

This darkly entertaining country song from 2015 tells the story of a poor but beautiful girl, Jenny, who married a millionaire. However, the trouble was this: he was an angry and violent drunk, and all the money in the world couldn't make up for that fact.

Eventually, Jenny grew tired of being on the receiving end of black eyes and bruises, so she slipped a permanent solution into her old man's whiskey. And then they were even.

17. "I'm OK" by Christina Aguilera

According to this 2002 pop song, when you grow up in a home where there is domestic violence, reaching adulthood is like surviving years living in a combat zone. The bruises and marks fade, but the guilt and anguish have left permanent scars. Despite her father's abuse against her mother, the narrator provides reassurance that she's made it out okay.

18. "Love the Way You Lie" by Eminem (Featuring Rihanna)

The push and pull of a mutually addictive, brutal relationship—that's what this 2009 song is about. And the artists who sing it should know a thing or two about the topic, as they've each been involved in toxic love affairs.

The international chart-topper depicts the cycle of violent aggression between lovers, the lies that it will never happen again, and the justifications for not walking away from the unhealthy relationship.

1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. - National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. - National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

19. "Rearview Mirror" by Pearl Jam

Home is supposed to be a safe place, but the young man in this 1993 rock song has endured years of beatings, humiliation, and fear there. As he drives away from the horrors of his past, he feels emancipation, and he sees the abusive situation more clearly in his rearview mirror.

20. "Oh, Mother" by Christina Aguilera

This tender pop song from 2006 addresses the narrator's mother who was a victim of spousal abuse for years. Her mother covered up her own cuts and bruises, but when her husband turned his violent rage on the kids, she decided that was it. The narrator thanks her mother for her bravery and reassures her that together they will always pull through.

In the United States, there is a one in three chance that a high school aged girl experiences violence in a dating relationship.

In the United States, there is a one in three chance that a high school aged girl experiences violence in a dating relationship.

Even More Songs About Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

SongArtistYear Released

21. Janie's Got a Gun

Aerosmith

1989

22. His Hands

Jennifer Nettles

2014

23. Black and Blue

Mindy McCready

unreleased

24. Pulling Teeth

Green Day

1994

25. Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?

The Offspring

2008

26. Devil in a Midnight Mass

Billy Tallent

2006

27. Independence Day

Martina McBride

1993

28. Levi Stubbs' Tears

Billy Bragg

1986

29. Good Enough

Sarah McLachlin

1993

30. Daughter

Pearl Jam

1993

31. Holy Water

Big & Rich

2004

32. Johnny Get Angry

Joanie Sommers

1962

33. Goodbye Earl

Dixie Chicks

1999

34. Call Me Guilty

Jazmine Sullivan

2008

35. Hell is for Children

Pat Benatar

1980

36. For The Love of a Daughter

Demi Lovato

2010

37. Blown Away

Carrie Underwood

2012

38. Broken Girl

Matthew West

2010

39. Steven

Jake Miller

2013

40. 11th Commandment

Collin Raye

1998

41. Karate

Brad Paisley

2013

42. Girl

Destiny's Child

2005

43. Dear Father

Black Sabbath

2012

44. Nobody Wins

Jodeci

2015

45. Tell Me Why

Taylor Swift

2008

46. Leave

Michael W. Smith

2010

47. He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)

The Crystals

1963

48. 30 Minute Break

The Luka State

2014

49. Dear Mr. Jesus

PowerSource

1986

50. Open Wounds

Skillet

2003

51. Bang and Blame

R.E.M.

1994

52. Don't Leave Me Now

Pink Floyd

1979

53. Amy in the White Coat

Bright Eyes

2006

54. Crawling

Linkin Park

2000

55. Ask Me

Amy Grant

1990

56. Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

Michael Jackson

2014

57. Runaway Love

Ludacris (featuring Mary J. Blige)

2006

58. Sleep

Stabbing Westward

1996

59. Candyman

Siouxdie and The Banshees

1986

60. Evening Shade

Dolly Parton

1969

61. A Child Called "It"

Buckcherry

2008

62. Oh, Father

Madonna

1989

63. Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me

Motorhead

1993

64. Nowhere to Stand

k.d. lang and The Reclines

1989

65. Hands Clean

Alanis Morissette

2002

66. Daddy's Little Defect

Sugarcult

2001

67. Flinch

Alanis Morissette

2002

68. I Would Be Stronger Than That

Faith Hill

1993

69. A Man's Home Is His Castle

Faith Hill

1995

70. Black Eyes, Blue Tears

Shania Twain

1997

71. Hotter Than Hell

Dua Lipa

2017

72. Vicious Love

New Found Glory

2014

73. Cold Case Love

Rihanna

2009

74. Hey Men

Men Without Hats

1989

75. In The Night

The Weeknd

2015

76. Russian Roulette

Rihanna

2009

77. Bang Bang

Nancy Sinatra

1966

78. Little Toy Guns

Carrie Underwood

2015

79. Daddy's Girl

Scorpions

1993

80. Yvette

Jason Isbell

2013

81. The Stairs

Reba McEntire

1987

82. Ultraviolence

Lana Del Rey

2014

83. Praying

Kesha

2017

84. Elastic Heart

Sia

2015

85. Please Don't Believe Me

Terry Sue Crawford

2002

86. It Shouldn't Hurt to Be a Child

Hollow Hearts Ft: Calli Kathleen.

2012

87. Daddy, Did You Know?

Lelica

2011

88. Only Women Bleed

Lita Ford

1990

89. Face Down

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

2006

90. Delilah

Tom Jones

1968

91. Mother Dear

The Supremes

1965

92. Alive

Pearl Jam

1991

93. Sarah Yellin'

3 Doors Down

2002

94. Justified Black Eye

Tony Sly

2004

95. Revenge

Papa Roach

2000

96. What She Had to

Lonestar

2006

97. I Am, I Feel

Alisha's Attic

1996

98. Woman in the Wall

The Beautiful South

1989

99. Broken Wing

Martina McBride

1997

100. Facade

Disturbed

2008

101. Her Demon

Hollow Hearts Infectious (featuring Calli Kathleen)

2015

102. Father of Mine

Everclear

1998

103. Miss Me More

Kelsea Ballerini

2018

104. Too. Beautiful

He Is We

2018

105. Evidence

Tara MacLean

1996

106. Old Apartment

Barenaked Ladies

1996

107. Re-Offender

Travis

2003

108. Blue Flashing Light

Travis

2019

109. Copper Bullets

The Warning

2017

110. The Last to Say

Atmosphere

2011

111. Milk & Cookies

Melanie Martinez

2015

112. Perfect

Alanis Morissette

2005

113. Mary Jane

Alanis Morissette

2005

114. Give Her the Gun

Dio

1993

115. I'm So Sorry

Nico Collins

2019

116. In Hell I'll Be in Good Company

The Dead South

2014

Children who experience abuse and neglect are 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.

Children who experience abuse and neglect are 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.

© 2017 FlourishAnyway

Comments

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 26, 2020:

Pray - Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you all the best in your future. Please take good care of yourself and those you love.

Pray on May 25, 2020:

I know just how bad it is to be abused my father did drugs he passed three months ago my mother abused me I had no friends I had nothing, but in six months I will be getting adopted and I now have a boyfriend who means the world to me

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 22, 2020:

Mandy - Thanks for the song recommendation.

Mandy on May 21, 2020:

Under Your Spell by The Birthday Massacre is very powerful.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 13, 2020:

Peggy - It's sad to realize how prevalent it is and how we all probably know someone who is or has been a victim.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 12, 2020:

Those statistics regarding domestic violence, as well as child abuse, are terrible. It is so sad that so many people suffer the results of having experienced it. I never realized that it spurred so many songs. I guess I should not be surprised.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 01, 2020:

Katie - Thank you for this song recommendation. I added it.

Katie on March 31, 2020:

Hold on - Nissim black

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 16, 2020:

Dan - Thanks for the suggestion. I'm adding the song.

Dan on February 14, 2020:

Give her the gun by Dio

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 04, 2020:

Raiukage - Thanks for these recommendations.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 04, 2020:

Katt - Thank you for the suggestions. Looking at the lyrics of her songs is so disturbing. You wonder what inspired that kind of creativity.

Raiukage on January 31, 2020:

Perfect, by Alanis Morisette. Psychological rather than physical, but I still remember the chills I felt the first time I heard it as a child.

Also, Mary Jane, from the same album.

Katt Jones on January 31, 2020:

I have a list:

A Million Men

Teacher's Pet

Show & Tell

Mrs. Potato Head

Tag, You're It

Milk & Cookies

Dollhouse

by Melanie Martinez

(Mentions sexual abuse & harrassment, affairs, bullying, & child abuse & endangerment)

Just 2 name a few of her songs cuz there's so many of them.....

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 28, 2020:

Zack - Yes, it is -- in Korn style. Thanks for the suggestion. It's so sad when people inflict violence on others, especially those they are supposed to love.

zack on January 28, 2020:

daddy -- korn

be warned, it's SUPER messed up and graphic

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 27, 2019:

Lucia - I've added your song suggestion. Please be safe and know that you deserve respect and love in your life, not violence. It's better to be without a partner than to have an abusive one. All the best to you, sweet lady.

Lucia on December 25, 2019:

Last to say but atmosphere. While in an abusive relationship myself one of my friends I reached out Afterwards to showed me this song.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 05, 2019:

LaustCawz - Thanks for your comment. That Judith Leekin was a horrible woman. I can only hope that she will receive justice in one way or another. Jail is not bad enough for a person like that. I have a narcissism and arrogant self-love playlist (although not necessarily restricted to parents): https://hubpages.com/playlists/The-Narcissists-Pla...

LaustCawz on December 04, 2019:

Flourish Anyway--Re: "Luka":

Suzanne Vega wrote the song using the name of a boy who lived in the same building she did. He showed no evidence or sign of having been abused, but she wanted to write a song about the issue.

Btw, if you can find a spare moment, I suggest you research a much more invisible form of abuse--narcissistic parents/guardians. Also, look up the queen of child abuse (but apparently only towards the many children she adopted)--Judith Leekin.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 17, 2019:

Jimmy - Thank you for the comment. She has displayed strength and courage moving on from a difficult circumstance. Sadly, too many young people are in the same situation she was, but perhaps she gives them a guiding example of emotional survival.

jimmy on November 13, 2019:

kelly clarkson wrote her song because of you in under 25 minutes at the age of 16 as a way of coping with her parents' divorce. Additionally she had a troubling relationship with her father I think.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 10, 2019:

Anna Lou - Thanks for the suggestion. The story behind that is a sad one and the one told in the rap is really tragic.

Anna Lou on November 09, 2019:

May I suggest Love is Blind by the rapper Eve

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 21, 2019:

Lugann - Thanks for the suggestion which I have added. I can see the parents' concerns but they're artists with a message.

Lugann on October 18, 2019:

Copper Bullets by the Warning. Amazing when you consider the writer (14 or 15 at the time) and her sisters had to dispute it's inclusion on the album they were recording. Their parents felt the content was a bit much for young teens to have penned let alone, lay down the track.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 18, 2019:

Krista - Cherry Wine is already on the list at #2, but I added two of the other suggestions. Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend.

Krista on October 17, 2019:

Re-offender and Blue Flashing Light by Travis

Take Your Time by Sam Hunt

Cherry Wine by Hozier

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 31, 2019:

shenard - Thanks for the suggestion!

shenard on July 31, 2019:

What about KoRn "Daddy?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 16, 2019:

Lachlan Brown - Thanks for the suggestion which I added. Although the band alleges it's about nostalgia for living in an old place rather than domestic violence, I don't buy that. The references to punching the hole in the wall and tearing the phone out of the wall suggest violence, not "memories." Thank you!

Lachlan Brown on May 14, 2019:

Old Apartment by Barenaked Ladies

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 13, 2019:

Lachlan Brown - Thank you for the suggestion.

Lachlan Brown on May 12, 2