Your turn for care: Surviving the aging and death of the adults who harmed you

Your Turn for CareYour Turn is a book I wrote for adult survivors of childhood maltreatment and abuse whose abusive elder family member is now aging or dying. This group of people has been appearing in my practice for a number of years, and the absence of a good book about their experience was the catalyst for me to create this volume. In it I speak to the special challenges and needs of people in this predicament and offer support for dealing with the emotional challenges of being a family caregiver or surviving the death of the abusive elder. If you were raised by people who abused, neglected, or otherwise maltreated you, the challenges of relating to them, being a family caregiver, and dealing with their dying are all unique to being a survivor of abuse. My aim in this book is to help you to get through this passage in your life in ways that heal you and prevent retraumatization.

Where to find


  • In this indispensable, thoughtful, and comprehensive guide, Dr. Laura Brown distills almost four decades of experience working with trauma survivors into a compendium filled with wisdom, caring, and resources for dealing with elders who were once abusive. Her writing style comes from the heart and includes survivor stories, scientific studies, and step-by-step guidelines for sorting out one’s personal situation. It is a treasure trove that will help survivors reclaim their power, hope, and selfhood.
    Mavis Tsai, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist
    Co-author of A Guide to Functional Analytic Psychotherapy: Awareness, Courage, Love and Behaviorism, and Functional Analytic Psychotherapy: Creating Intense and Curative Therapeutic Relationships.
  • Your Turn to Care serves as an unparalleled survivors’ manual for adults now faced with the prospect of dealing with those who abused and maltreated them. Dr. Laura Brown distills three decades of experience as a master clinician to offer much needed compassionate and wise guidance to people who have been harmed by parents or other family members. The compelling stories of clients confronting major life decisions are interlaced with an explanation of their internal dynamics and beautifully delineated principles that readers can use to make their own hard choices. This unique volume is a must-read for all those facing these kinds of challenges and for all therapists working with traumatized clients. Readers will gain a greater understanding of why abuse occurs and its long-lasting effects, as well as sage advice about how to nurture their own well-being, even under the most difficult of circumstances.
    Francine Shapiro, PhD
    Originator of EMDR therapy
    Founder of the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Programs
    Author of Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy
  • Count on Dr. Laura Brown to be ahead of the curve on all issues related to adult survivors of childhood abuse and neglect. This time, she has identified a gap in the literature relating to survivors who are faced with the care and other end-of-life issues of elders who were abusive to them. In response, she has written a timely book, Your turn for care: Surviving the aging and death of the adults who harmed you in which she systematically lays out many of the issues that can arise and the mixed feelings that are likely in such a confounded circumstance. She advises survivors to be pragmatic in what they can offer, listen to their own inner wisdom, and take care of themselves first. A wise and comforting book in what is often a time of turmoil.
    Christine A. Courtois, PhD, ABPP
    Past-President, Division 56 (Psychological Trauma), American Psychological Association
    Author of Healing the Incest Wound: Adult Survivors in Therapy (revised edition)
    Co-editor of Treating Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders: An Evidence-Based Guide (with Julian Ford)
  • Laura Brown has blazed trails in psychology, taking on topics the rest of us have overlooked or shied away from and bringing new light to areas we thought we knew well. Her new book, which I’ve just read with admiration and appreciation, is no exception. She has created a wonderful source of support and guidance, a down-to-earth resource for thinking through and feeling through the challenges confronting those whose harmful elders are approaching the end of life. For many, this book will be more than a help; it will be a life-preserver.
    Ken Pope, Ph.D., ABPP
    Diplomate in Clinical Psychology
  • Growing up in the shadow of abuse and neglect can affect adult survivors across the lifespan. Often in their midlife the infirmity, dying, and death of an abusive parent brings painful memories and struggles roaring back to the present for these individuals. Therapists who work with adult survivors are all too familiar with the guilt, anger, pain, and confusion of this time for clients. For the first time, Laura Brown addresses the navigation of these perilous waters in her compassionate and wise book, Your Turn For Care. Therapists and their clients alike will find this gem of a book be an invaluable resource in making tough decisions about whether or how to care for aging, ill, or dying parents in ways that support respectful self-care and balance. I highly recommend every therapist who works with adult survivors read this book and encourage their clients to read it.
    Kathy Steele, MN, CS
    Co-author of Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists and The Haunted Self: Structural Dissociation and the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization
  • In her formidable career as a clinician treating survivors of trauma, Dr. Laura Brown has stepped up to provide a guide for abuse survivors who find themselves taking care of their elderly abusers or coping with the complex grief experienced when they die…This book is a major contribution to the field in that it confronts a sensitive and important subject not previously addressed in the literature, academic or popular…This book can be a critically important resource for any clinician who treats a patients facing this situation…This book is highly recommended for survivors who have become caregivers, as well as for their therapists.
    Shielagh Shusta-Hochberg, Ph.D.
    Journal of Trauma and Dissociation


Brown, L.S. (2012). Your turn for care: Surviving the aging and death of the adults who harmed you.

See also

A note about the Comments section

I’ve invited the readers of Your Turn for Care to interact with me, and this is the place for that interchange to occur. Your comments, feedback, and questions are welcome. If you prefer that your comment not be published on the site just start it with the phrase “for Laura’s eyes only” and it will remain private. I will not be able to answer every question, and I value all of what you, the readers, have to tell me.

5 Responses to “Your turn for care: Surviving the aging and death of the adults who harmed you”

  1. Katherine M

    I have had the fortune to do the hard work to heal from abuse enough to forgive my dad, and to provide elder care for him for three years before he died. We shared a house which enabled him to have 2+ years of independence in his own home which he couldn’t have done otherwise. I found this a very fruitful time in my life. My mother died several years before; I’m not sure we could have shared the same house because I’m not sure we would have gotten along well enough.

  2. c l l

    My therapist brought this book, and site, to my attention. I devoured Chapter 1 on-line.

    The author wrote “the feedback I got from publishers that there was little to no audience for this book.”

    Are they kidding? I am exactly in this situation, and I know of others, too – to whom I have forwarded the link to Chapter 1.

    My only question is “where, in Toronto, Ontario, can I purchase a copy?” I would like an answer to that question.

    Thank you for writing this, it’s very much needed.

  3. roxann

    Sounds like the publishers were out of touch with the human statistics on unreported abuse of children… I believe we are not out of the “dark ages” of how we treat childhood abuse. Not to mention gender, domestic, or racial… The abused are the least able to have the power to help themselves out of the many kinds of abuse, and abuse is never one kind.

    The courageous ones and the benevolent of humanity are the ones to reach out to/for help.

    I just printed out the first chapter. I hope it will give me some more insight into my own journey away from my paralizing past and that of my siblings.

  4. Adina

    My wonderful therapist recommended this book to me and I cannot emphasize enough the value of this book. i devoured it and keep rereading it. I feel that you understood me in ways that i could not understand myself. I love your clarity in the presence of such complexity. this is the best gift i could give myself and those i love after my father died and i want all my siblings to read it as well.
    thank you

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