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‘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 would lash out at her – with beatings, torture, starvation and making Vanessa sleep in their garden's pigsty, tied up like an animal. Her mother said her punishments were God's revenge on her for being the devil's child. Her father lived in denial of her suffering.When she was 6 years old, Vanessa's grandfather began to sexually abuse her – to her despair, aided and abetted by both her mother and grandmother. At eight years old, she then discovered that the 'mother' who hated her so much had adopted her as a baby and would never love her as her own.At the most horrific times of Vanessa's abuse, she nearly lost all hope that she would escape her prison, until mysterious things started to happen to her that allowed her to fight back.This is the story of how Vanessa survived a childhood that nearly destroyed her and how her secret led her out of the horrors of her past.

Vanessa Steel was born and brought up on the outskirts of Birmingham in the 1950s. She survived her childhood ordeals and developed a psychic gift (as a young child she foresaw the assassination of Kennedy in 1963 oblivious to who he was), and started working professionally as a medium. She is now one of the most sought after psychic mediums in Britain with a long list of private clients including many celebrities, both in the UK and abroad.

336 pages, ebook

First published July 1, 2008

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Vanessa Steel

4 books18 followers

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5 stars
999 (46%)
4 stars
636 (29%)
3 stars
386 (17%)
2 stars
118 (5%)
1 star
31 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 146 reviews
12 reviews
October 22, 2010
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.
Profile Image for Pepper.
150 reviews
October 14, 2012
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.
4 reviews2 followers
March 22, 2012
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 and her older brother. Until, her grandmother died and her brother was sent to a sick home, she was all alone. The only thing that kept her alive was the voices she would hear telling her that she will be alright. All she wanted was for her mother to love her. Throughout everything that her mother had put her through, her mother was the one that was truly punished. In this book it had some sexual content and it explains a lot of things which a lot of us wouldn't want to know.

I loved this book! It's very sad but it keeps me wanting to read on and on to know what happens. The thing that stood out to me the most is reading the things that her mother did to her mad me so sad. I can't believe that parents can do this to their own children. It's not right. I think everyone should read this book because it really just helps you be aware of things and teaches a good lesson to love your children. Abuse is a horrible thing that we need to stop. If you love sad books, than this is a perfect book for you to read.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,418 reviews68 followers
November 26, 2012
*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 Vanessa made me nauseated. This book was hard for me to read because of all the graphic details.
I am very grateful that the spirits were present to help guide Vanessa through the roller coaster of her life. I'm glad they shared bits of her future that made her want to continue with her life and have goals to work toward. I am so sorry that those disgraceful things happened to Vanessa, but I am glad that she has broken the cycle. I hope that other people read this book and can be brave enough to get help. I also hope that he people that hurt Vanessa felt guilty for their whole existence. I hope they got what was coming to them. I wish that Vanessa's family had been more willing to help her so that she didn't have to endure so much unnecessary torture. I wish they would have spoke up so those bastards would have been punished for their heinous acts.
Vanessa thank you for being brave enough to survive and for sharing your heartfelt story.
Profile Image for Kayleigh.
75 reviews
October 22, 2011
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 sadisitic events featured in the childhood of writer, Vanessa Steel, who tells such an effective and descriptive story.
Some parts were harsh to read, though just wanting to know what was going to come next, kept me addictive and having read the book in one afternoon.

What I love most about books like this, is they give people a true understanding of how much painful events in someones life can be, a kind of make people realise that what goes on behind closed doors, is infact true.
This book is a great example of childhood abuse, and how adults will countlessly fail attempting to save children.

Vanessa Steel, is a very stong and heroic woman, A true survivor
52 reviews4 followers
July 30, 2010
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 in two sittings, I stopped just over half way through as I found it all too much, a particular part involving Janie (you’ll understand if you read it). It’s gripping yet chilling; you want to read on because you want to know there’s a happy ending. The compassion and love that Vanessa has, just shows what an amazing person she is. To endure the ordeals she did and still come out fighting, not just that but able to show love and forgiveness to those who did her wrong. A fantastic well-written, heart-wrenching, tear jerking book and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.
Profile Image for Umang.
43 reviews4 followers
December 23, 2012
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 there are a lot of books like this but I think this one was the best. I would recommend that people read.
It's a very inspirational book.
Profile Image for richwire.
79 reviews1 follower
January 27, 2013
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 burn in hell.
June 17, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Close Enough.
301 reviews67 followers
January 18, 2022
They say that the abused often become abusers but I have been able to break this pattern and bring up my children with limitless, unconditional love.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
1,009 reviews24 followers
August 6, 2020
A very disturbing story of abuse. Vanessa's mother was just evil, always finding new ways to punish her and make everyone believe she was clumsy with a very active imagination. She was especially evil where her own father, Vanessa's grandfather, was involved in the abuse. Just disgusting.

When I read Vanessa Steel was a famous medium, I was hoping for more about that journey as well. She does mention talking to spirits and revealing some of what they say to her and a few people but that's as far as it goes. She's truly a survivor.

Profile Image for Jennifer.
14 reviews1 follower
November 2, 2011
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 and intensity of the cruelty she suffered. I truly cannot believe that Vanessa survived this torture, much less able to live out a somewhat normal life. She is a survivor, no doubt, and an inspiration to us all.
Profile Image for Annie Kookie.
122 reviews8 followers
January 6, 2011
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 this is due to the fact that so much of the novel was based around a childhood so a story-book ending seemed fitting, or maybe I was just happy to see that Vanessa found a happiness & a peace.
Profile Image for Corey Bearden.
26 reviews3 followers
November 5, 2012

Not even sure how to put into words the harrowing ordeal suffered by little Vanessa. I have been so blessed with loving, adoring parents that this sort of treatment was foreign to me. Parts of the book I had to skim over because I could not bear to read them. The things she went through were so foreign to me that I believe it propelled my interest in the book. I so longed for Vanessa to get revenge...it brought out a side of me I didn't know of. God bless Vanessa Steel...truly a survivor.
3 reviews
February 12, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Sigurbjorg.
14 reviews
December 8, 2014
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.
50 reviews
April 28, 2012
An incredibly tragic story well told, it teaches hope
Profile Image for Tina.
105 reviews
September 27, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Nia Nymue.
359 reviews10 followers
February 17, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Syarissa.
2 reviews3 followers
April 24, 2014
a sad story ... but i wonder is this book based on a real-story?? (coz it doesn't seem so)
Profile Image for Allisha Newman.
12 reviews
March 28, 2020
A very well written book, it’s very sad and the abuse is aweful. She’s a strong woman to have survived and than to have written her story. Good book but sad story
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Misbah.
1,223 reviews6 followers
March 21, 2021
I rated this 3 stars because some aspects of the story had me questioning it's accuracy and it was very distracting to try to constantly remind myself to keep an open mind when eliminating those embellishments would've made the story all the more compelling.


This book took a huge toll on me emotionally. I sped through this book and tried not to dwell too much on the horrifying things that Vanessa suffered at the hands of her parents and the soul-shattering betrayal of the adults around her. Despite that, I had to put down the book and try to calm the angry, frantic feelings that made me want to break something on her behalf. Vanessa needed desperately needed someone on her side and sadly spent her whole childhood begging for love from a cold, heartless b****.

The writing was compelling and did justice to the story however at times it made it seem a bit embellished. Certain wording and actions seemed so specific and detailed, I had a hard time accepting them as fact versus fiction. Still, I take the author's word for it and I believe she stands an inspiration to many who have survived sub an ordeal.

Vanessa from the age of 3, remembers the cruelty of her mother. She was subjected to years of physical and mental abuse. Torture at the hands of her mother, when all she wanted was her love and attention. I understand that this is adult Vanessa recalling the memories of her past, but I also feel like she over-explained the mindset of her younger self. I'm not denying that 3 year old's are intelligent and understand the subtleties of people's actions. But at times, it was very clear that older Vanessa was making assumptions and justifying actions on younger Vanessa's behalf.
Also, I must say I was surprised by the accuracy of her memory in some of the accounts that she detailed. I remember a traumatic domestic situation from when I was 3. There are certain scenes and some words, many emotions that are seared into my memory. But I can't recall the moments before that happened or the days afterwards, it's just a blur. That again makes me assume, that adult Vanessa is filling in the blanks for us, for the sake of the story.

Vanessa's brother, Nigel was also beat and yelled at but she got the brunt of it because he was mom's favorite and also had epilepsy. Just a year older than her, Nigel did his best to protect his little sister. He was sent away to a special school when the epilepsy was becoming hard to handle.
Her father was a kind man who loved his kids and often played with them. Because of the home dynamic in that era, he was often out of the house for work or hanging with friends at a pub. However, Vanessa noted that she saw less and less of him throughout the week. Her mom commented once that he was, "with another woman". Grandparents from both sides played an integral role in lives of these kids. Mom's parents were mean and cold. Dad's parents were both kind and were a safe haven for Nigel and Vanessa.

Vanessa's mom would put her in a closet, beat her with a stick, force her to hold in her urine until she couldn't then beat her for it. At this point, Vanessa started hearing voices and seeing eyes. They comforted her when she was scared or lonely. When her mom put her hand on the stove, burning her, her father FINALLY stepped in and took her to his parent's place. Up until then, he had turned a blind eye to everything and just listened to his wife's stories about Vanessa bumping into things and giving herself black eyes. WTF. My aunt went through something similar when her father remarried after her mom died. Her stepmother would beat her and starve her, while her father stood by and pretended like it wasn't happening. Many of my family members would later excuse his behavior saying that he couldn't say anything without making things worse. BULL-fing-SHIT.
This is why I'm glad we are tearing away these stigmas and taboos. So abuse can be identified and stopped.

Around this time, it is revealed that Vanessa's mom couldn't have children so they had been adopted from two different mothers. They weren't the Casey's biological children. That explains some but excuses none.

After summer vacation ended, Vanessa went back home to her mother's cruelty. When she was six, during one of their visits to Mom's parent's house (the Pittams), the abuse took a more sinister turn. The Grandfather started molesting both children. In many instances it was clearly evident that the Grandmother knew and basically encouraged it. She would tell them to shut up and do what Grandfather said and then leave them alone with him in the garage. The mom would pretend like she didn't have a clue what was happening even when her children were clearly acting and saying weird things. When Nigel was sent away to his special school, this abuse continued and Vanessa was subjected to it for YEARS. Until finally she said something about it to her cousin and her aunt overheard. Her father and his parents found out and they had a doctor exam her. She was very obviously being assaulted and they knew who had been doing it.
What does her father do? Tell her she won't be going back to that house anymore. Yeah. That's it.
There was no call to the police, no beating up the grandfather. No justice for this little girl.

The description of that particular abuse was way too detailed and I wish I could unread it. Even though I would've still felt horrified with a more glossed over version I understand the author's need to be heard. She had endured everything silently, no one believing her and no one coming to help for so many years. The least I can do is bear witness to her pain. And even though they died long before I was born, I curse her grandfather and her grandmother. The injustice of what she suffered is so profound I can't bear to read it. Imagining what she went through makes me believe that I could be capable of murder.

Her mother was furious that she had said those things about grandfather Pittam. She was cruel to Vanessa. Later on, Vanessa would speculate that from what she recalls of her mother's relationship with grandfather and the grandmother's nonchalant behavior, it's very likely that she also suffered similar abuse. She only garners a modicum of sympathy after that revelation.

Vanessa grows up and after a series of random occurrences which can only be called 'life', she becomes pregnant with a baby girl and marries a boy she barely knows. She found the love that she had always wanted in the form of her daughter, Samantha. After 4 years, they divorce and she married her current husband, Rob. They had a blended family of 6 and lived a happy life.

While all of this was happening, Vanessa had been experiencing visions and hearing voices. She had been given psych consultations and her parents thought she may be losing it. She says that she predicted Kennedy's assassination, her own brother's untimely death and the birth of her daughter. Reading about this in tandem with the abuse took away from it in a way. It made me question her as a narrator and the accuracy of her statements. There were things that were mentioned in such a detailed and crisp way, it made me uneasy at how everything seemed to fit together so well. Memories and trauma aren't always so crystal clear in hindsight. Again, I'm taking her word for it. Assuming she was actually hearing voices and seeing ghosts, from a medical standpoint I believe she may have dissociated from her harsh reality to allow her psyche to survive. That also explains a lot about how she characterized things sometimes.

Another twist in the story is that she may actually be her father's biological daughter. She had been trying to find her birth mom but had no luck. She asked around but no one had information on her. She went to see some cousins in Canada (from her Dad's side of the family). One of them was a spitting image of her. So either her mom was someone from her Dad's family or she was her father's illegitimate child. Her father was very strict about the whole not having kids out of wedlock thing. One theory the author puts forward, is that he may have had her with his first fiancée (a woman that he had intended to marry until Vanessa's cruel mom swept him off his feet, mostly for his money and social status). His fiancée died a spinster, never marrying and heartbroken over him. He continued to meet her and for possibly his whole marriage. Where the story ends, Vanessa may never know the truth because everyone who had any inkling has already passed away.

The book actually starts with her coming to her mom's place to find her passed out and she calls the ambulance, scared about losing her mom. I know I haven't been betrayed by a loved one, so I can't put myself in her shoes. But are you kidding me Vanessa? I would've left the old hag to die. I know that sounds harsh and I'm appalled at myself considering my profession. However, there's a reason we have the death penalty and there are many worthy candidates in this story.
This story is inspiring in that Vanessa thumbed her nose at her mother by being what she wasn't, a kind caring mother to her own children. She lived her life to the fullest, choosing to be happy and content rather than dwelling on her past. Instead of letting her trauma ruin her life like her mother had, Vanessa showed a remarkable strength of self.

What irked me and still annoys me to no end is how her relationship with her mom ended. She continued to stay in touch with her and be a dutiful daughter throughout the years. Still waiting for a loving tough or kind word. She decided to be kind to her mother and forgive her for everything that happened. I don't know her and will never meet her, but I can never forgive Vanessa's mom.
Vanessa can have her growth and peace and move on from this a lighter person. I will hate her mother for her.
Profile Image for Laura.
508 reviews31 followers
January 29, 2018
It's always hard to rate and review a book which is based on the traumatic past of the author, because it's almost as though you are casting aspersions based on their experiences. However, in terms of this one, I just could not get in to it. Not only was the narrative quite long-winded and at times too detailed, I also lost interest when the author started talking about the spirits she started to encounter. I imagine it was a coping technique as a youngster which she felt comforted by, but it just made me feel a little uncomfortable to read. I can't quite put my finger on the reason why, but this book just did not grip me. The writing was a little flat.
1 review1 follower
May 22, 2013
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 because he has epilepsy. Her father has been told by her many times that her mother beats her but yet he is in denial and doesn’t believe what she does is true. Vanessa was sexually abuse by her Grandfather also, her mother had known about it but just let it slide. She had tried many times that she was being abused they believed her but didn’t do anything about it. In the end she had found a way to save her own life and get away from the abuse she was suffering from.

I thought that this book was an influencing story, it showed how this is very common and can happen to many children yet not many people can see it. It makes me want to help those who have been abused and having no one to help them. I can only look at this book and say that I will never treat any child like this or let any child be treated in such a way. Vanessa Steel does an amazing job at portraying the events that she had gone through.

”God doesn’t love me, so Jesus doesn’t love me either” (Steel, 41). This quote is very strong to me because it was said by a little girl whose mother beats her and tells her that God is the one who told her to do this because she is ugly. She doesn’t know what’s right and wrong so that when people ask her why her mother does it that is her response. I think it has a big effect on the story because she was raised to think she is hated by God.
Profile Image for Laurelle.
28 reviews1 follower
March 31, 2019
A moving story of how courage was able to triumph over a tragedy and how even with a lasting sadness the human spirit is able to forgive and find understanding. Vanessa Steel is an amazing soul
902 reviews12 followers
January 24, 2011
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 and starvation. Vanessa thought her mother would kill her. Then her grandfather began to sexually abuse her, aided and abetted by her mother and grandmother.
But then one day, when she felt her deepest despair, mysterious things started happening to Vanessa that changed her forever. This resilient little girl found a secret way to survive and the truth about her mother was revealed.
26 reviews
May 31, 2013
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 as it was. I have mixed feelings about recommending this book. On one hand I believe it was so important the author be able to share her story and bring awareness to others but at the same time it was difficult to read.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 146 reviews

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