FlourishAnyway believes there is a playlist for just about any situation and is on a mission to unite and entertain the world through song.
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.
Read More From Spinditty
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.
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.
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.
Even More Songs About Domestic Violence and Child Abuse
21. Janie's Got a Gun
22. His Hands
23. Black and Blue
24. Pulling Teeth
25. Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?
26. Devil in a Midnight Mass
27. Independence Day
28. Levi Stubbs' Tears
29. Good Enough
31. Holy Water
Big & Rich
32. Johnny Get Angry
33. Goodbye Earl
34. Call Me Guilty
35. Hell is for Children
36. For The Love of a Daughter
37. Blown Away
38. Broken Girl
40. 11th Commandment
43. Dear Father
44. Nobody Wins
45. Tell Me Why
Michael W. Smith
47. He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)
48. 30 Minute Break
The Luka State
49. Dear Mr. Jesus
50. Open Wounds
51. Bang and Blame
52. Don't Leave Me Now
53. Amy in the White Coat
55. Ask Me
56. Do You Know Where Your Children Are?
57. Runaway Love
Ludacris (featuring Mary J. Blige)
Siouxdie and The Banshees
60. Evening Shade
61. A Child Called "It"
62. Oh, Father
63. Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me
64. Nowhere to Stand
k.d. lang and The Reclines
65. Hands Clean
66. Daddy's Little Defect
68. I Would Be Stronger Than That
69. A Man's Home Is His Castle
70. Black Eyes, Blue Tears
71. Hotter Than Hell
72. Vicious Love
New Found Glory
73. Cold Case Love
74. Hey Men
Men Without Hats
75. In The Night
76. Russian Roulette
77. Bang Bang
78. Little Toy Guns
79. Daddy's Girl
81. The Stairs
Lana Del Rey
84. Elastic Heart
85. Please Don't Believe Me
Terry Sue Crawford
86. It Shouldn't Hurt to Be a Child
Hollow Hearts Ft: Calli Kathleen.
87. Daddy, Did You Know?
88. Only Women Bleed
89. Face Down
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
91. Mother Dear
93. Sarah Yellin'
3 Doors Down
94. Justified Black Eye
96. What She Had to
97. I Am, I Feel
98. Woman in the Wall
The Beautiful South
99. Broken Wing
101. Her Demon
Hollow Hearts Infectious (featuring Calli Kathleen)
102. Father of Mine
103. Miss Me More
104. Too. Beautiful
He Is We
106. Old Apartment
108. Blue Flashing Light
109. Copper Bullets
110. The Last to Say
111. Milk & Cookies
113. Mary Jane
114. Give Her the Gun
115. I'm So Sorry
116. In Hell I'll Be in Good Company
The Dead South
© 2017 FlourishAnyway
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
Show & Tell
Mrs. Potato Head
Tag, You're It
Milk & Cookies
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