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4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  1,374 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
‘Punished’ is the inspiring true story of an unusual little girl, Vanessa, whose childhood was devastated by torture and abuse at the hands of her sadistic mother. Vanessa was nearly destroyed until she discovered a secret that ultimately saved her life.From the age of 3, Vanessa lived in daily terror of her mother's unpredictable rage. If she was 'naughty', her mother wou ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published February 2nd 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published July 1st 2008)
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Clarissa Lobo I think I read this book when I was around 16 years old and now, at 21, it's still got me pretty unsettled. It was eye-opening and frightening. I…moreI think I read this book when I was around 16 years old and now, at 21, it's still got me pretty unsettled. It was eye-opening and frightening. I wouldn't say it's appropriate but if you're one of the braver souls, give it a try. But I'd recommend waiting a bit... it's quite a life changer.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Chloe Norman
Vanessa has been abused since she was 3 years old by her mother and her grandparents. Her mother punished her for anything that she did wrong. She would punish her with beatings, torture and starvation. She thought her mother would kill her and she almost did. When she became a little older, her grandpa would sexually abuse her. With her mother and grandma knowing he did this to her, they didn't care. She couldn't even turn to her father because he wouldn't believe her. She only had Nan Casey an ...more
Nov 25, 2012 Justine rated it it was amazing
*Spoiler Alert*

This is the real- life story of Vanessa, a young girl who's life started off rough right from the date of her adoption at 6 months old. The book shares Vanessa's past and a little bit of the present, the terrible and the best times of her life. This is one of the most horrific books that I have ever read in my life. I can't believe the torture that Vanessa's "mother" put her through. All Vanessa wants is for her mother to love and accept her. A lot of awful things that happened to
Georgina Ball
Jul 30, 2010 Georgina Ball rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A sickening tale of a little girl’s cruel, sadistic childhood which ends somewhat happily. The book is written well, it introduces you to the characters and the background before launching into the story which helps you understand what’s happening. It’s written in short blocks so is easy to read and remember where you are if distracted. The end is nicely finished and answers all the unanswered questions, so you feel satisfied and happy. The story is sickening and heartbreaking, I read this book ...more
Another amazing must-read truestory, of one child's abusive childhood.
From the age of 3 Vanessa was physically and mentally abused by her mother, whilst her father spent most of his time living away from the family, in complete denial of the truth of his wife, and what she was doing to his daughter and her brother diagnosed with a serious case of epilepsy.
But Vanessa was not just abused by her mother, but at the age of six, her Grandpa sexually abused her.

The story recalls the sickening and sadi
Feb 08, 2014 Joan rated it did not like it
I usually can finish a book but this one is one that just didn't seem to live up to it's description. I found the story too unbelievable due to the following. Remember this is just me. I don't think someone can have that vivid of memories from the age of 2. She seemed to have way to many details/descriptions and the way the story was being told didn't go together well.
Oct 14, 2012 Mika rated it really liked it
What a horrible family it was that Vanessa ended up with - including her father! I hated him throughout the book. It seems almost implausible how oblivious the father was to everything that his beautiful, and most evil, wife was doing to Vanessa. This is a very sad and touching story and it will stay with you for a long, long time.
Annie Kookie
Jan 05, 2011 Annie Kookie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: got
A saddening tale of the trauma that's inflicted throughout the life of Vanessa Steel starting from when she was just a tot. The writing is easy although the story is far from it. The story is tragic but it's important to have stories such as this, to bring to light the events that mar children more than we wish to hear.
I actually really liked the ending - it was reminiscent of a childrens' story (& the moral of the story is... & this redeems all of the horrors within the book). Perhaps
Dec 23, 2012 Umang rated it really liked it
This book really opened my eyes to the things children have to go through and how horrible parents can be. The reason why I can't give it 5 stars is because I was depressed while reading this book. I had this cloud of depression above my head and once I finished the book that cloud gradually disappeared - but I still thought of it. I guess that's what the book is meant to do, it's meant to trigger feelings. I did like it though and I wouldn't mind reading another book like this one. Of course th ...more
Jan 27, 2013 richwire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Only read this book if you're prepared to wince in pain, put the book down in disgust, then pick it up again and keep reading. One of the most horrific stories I've ever read. I was torn over giving it 5 stars because the story is so grotesque but the fact of the matter is it's a 5 star book. It's so unbelievable at times, you know it has to be true because no one's imagination could invent the cruelty experienced here. May the author's mother, father, grandpa and grandma Pittman and Auntie Pat ...more
Oct 22, 2010 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure what drove me to continue reading this book. I would compare it to a child called it. It is hard to read about the abuse of a child. I felt like i owed it to the author who is the victim to hear her story. It had a bit of a twist in it that I thought was kind of weird where she hears voices and sees the future which just made it seem made up.
Feb 12, 2012 Monique rated it really liked it
I love reading stories about someone having a trouble life and how they are able to get through it and come out with positive attitude. Moments were very sad and just terrifying to think that any child would suffer such abuse but how Vanessa is able to go on is just amazing.
Apr 23, 2014 Syarissa rated it really liked it
a sad story ... but i wonder is this book based on a real-story?? (coz it doesn't seem so)
Nia Nymue
Feb 17, 2014 Nia Nymue rated it it was ok
Didn't realise this was a work of non-fiction. Initially gave it one star, then two stars. I can't decide but it can be quite engrossing at parts. A bit self-absorbed and too spiritual for me.
Sep 27, 2012 Tina rated it it was amazing
Very good read,upsetting the way the child is treated by her mother and her mother's parents especially the granddad. A child's struggle through life with so much turmoil.
Karen Ferguson
Jun 17, 2014 Karen Ferguson rated it it was ok
It was sad to hear how uncaring and sadistic her mother was. No one should have to live through anything like that. I found the "speaking to the spirits" to be hokey.
Apr 28, 2012 Yvonne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly tragic story well told, it teaches hope
Kaellie Korman
May 22, 2013 Kaellie Korman rated it really liked it
Punished By Vanessa Steel

In this inspiring true story about a young girl, named Vanessa, who is beaten by her mother, she does terrible things to her such as burning her hands on the stove, shoving her in a cubby, and beating her with a cane. She had suffered many things through her life and her mother claimed that it was because God had told her that she was a devil child who is ruining her mother's life. She also has a young brother who tries to protect her because he isn't beaten often beca
Jun 08, 2014 Vittoria rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading Punished and i found this book very captivating. Throughout the book Vanessa Steel makes you feel every bit of pain she went through as a young girl. At times it can be difficult to read because of how disturbing her life was but overall the book is very good. Before reading this book i did not have any belief in having connections with the non living but after reading Vanessa's story i have a different view.
Jan 24, 2011 Barbra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a harrowing but inspirational true story and at times was a hard read but with spiritual help Vanessa saw her way through.

Back Cover Blurb:
Ever since Vanessa Steel was three years old, her mother had punished her whenever she put a foot wrong. Vanessa lived in daily terror of her mother's unpredictable rage and the punishments she said were God's revenge on her for being the devil's child. If she was 'naughty', her mother would lash out at her in sadistic ways - with beatings, torture a
Jan 03, 2015 Omshi rated it did not like it
Completely , absolutely REVOLTING . I couldn't sleep at night . Don't get me wrong , but just because its a true story doesn't make this a great book . The only thing , throughout the whole book , is - sob sobsob sobsob sniff sob... So , i one star from me . Sad that i couldn't give it 0 stars or else in negative .
Apr 07, 2016 Patti rated it it was amazing
What an emotional story. Vanessa is so brave to relive all those tragedies and come out so strong. I cried while reading this book, thinking how could a mother be so cruel. I would definitely read again. Thank you for sharing your story Vanessa Steel.
Dec 08, 2014 Sigurbjorg rated it did not like it
This book, although sad and horrific, was not for my liking. I truly am sadden for what the author went through but all the nonsense about hearing voices and seeing into the future was wierd. I am sure many believe it but i for one dont.
Patricia Kaniasty
Jun 16, 2014 Patricia Kaniasty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
You have to have a stomach of steel to read this book. The abuse that takes place is disgusting, nauseating, and just plain evil. There some interesting things that happen in this story revolving around auras and the such but I won't say more.
May 31, 2013 Heather rated it really liked it
I gave this book 4 starts only because the daughter prevails at the end. It is hard to fathom that the events that took place in this book time after time after time could actually occur, although undoubtedly true. The author's story made me feel uncomfortable and disgusted for her. The mother portrayed is truly a monster yet the daughter stays by her side until the end. So happy for a handful of people in Vanessa's life that acted as a beckon of light. Without them the outcome would not have be ...more
Lindsey Erp
Jul 24, 2016 Lindsey Erp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book was hard to put down. What a nightmare of a childhood. It brought me to tears and helped me to realize that if someone was strong enough to survive this, I too, can survive anything! Great read!
Aug 18, 2015 Pennie rated it really liked it
I feel for Vanessa, makes my skin crawl as to how her adoptive mother and grandfather treated her. The only thing that would have made the story end with a smile is if she could of had all of her questions answered.
Nov 02, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you can stomach reading about unrelenting abuse, this book is worth the read just to learn how the human spirit is so forgiving and resilient. Vanessa's quest to be loved by someone, anyone is so heart-breaking. I literally was nauseated at reading about her mistreatment: bee stings, nights in the pigsty, being forced to drink urine, the beatings, the sexual abuse, the torture, and a lifetime of hatetred and hateful, evil words from her own mother. I am still in shock at the volume/frequency ...more
Dec 13, 2015 Marilyn rated it really liked it
Started this afternoon, and finished before bed.

A good book, though a sad sad story.

So glad she is one of the lucky ones - that can put her past behind her and move on for her children and loved ones.
Nancy Van
May 21, 2016 Nancy Van rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Such violence. The fact that this was at a time when all of this went unnoticed is mind boggling. Even then the author was able to forgive the unforgivable.
Leanne Pruyn

I gave this book three stars because although the story line was great, it did become a bit redundant a few chapters in a row. Altogether a great story of triumph.
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