Canadian Bestselling Memoir based on Restorative Justice
Would I marry a man who had served 10 years in prison for murdering a woman in a crime of passion? I asked myself this question before meeting author, Shannon Moroney, at Turquoise Waters Writers’ Retreat at Sandy Lake, Ontario in July 2014.
Allyson Latta, Copy Editor for Shannon Moroney’s book Through the Glass (published by Doubleday), arranged for Ms. Moroney to speak to a group of writers about her decision to write a memoir about a three-year period when the trusted husband she’d married only a month before, betrayed her by kidnapping and sexually assaulting two women.
After the shocking tragedy of the kidnappings and rapes, the author’s experiences, and her ensuing battle within our Canadian justice system, which failed to support her as a physically uninjured victim – victim nonetheless – is a story of outreach, survival and transformation. Ms. Moroney spoke to us for nearly 6 hours, not only about the sadness and concern she feels for the victims, but also about healing through the writing process, attaining an agent and acquiring a publishing contract.
She refused to allow her association with a perceived monster to dictate her humanity. We cannot forget that she lost a much beloved, but (unknown to her at the time) flawed husband. She lost her privacy. She lost her job as a high school Guidance Counsellor. She lost friends. She lost her sense of who she was as a person and the future she’d planned for her life.
At times the justice system dragged slowly through its complicated process, only to bluntly arrive at mind-boggling decisions that protect the rights of criminals, but left little room for protecting victims. Moroney’s determination to make sense of her husband’s role by staying in touch with him was controversial, and challenged some to believe that she was naïve, foolish, or (her worst fear) complicit.
But her belief that criminals also have rights for timely psychiatric treatment turned her into an advocate for change. Waiting 5 years for treatment in a system where there is one psychiatrist for 600 inmates went against all of her beliefs and training.
But you’d have to understand the influential principles of her birth family, and the career she’d chosen to help homeless and challenged youth in the justice system – a convincing argument for the woman’s sincerity and intellect. Before dating her husband, she interviewed her husband’s parole officer and prison psychiatrist many times to feel comfortable with the knowledge that her husband-to-be had paid his debt to society for his teen crime. The professionals confirmed that he’d been a model prisoner and fulfilled the requirements of his parole for many years. After speaking to Shannon and reading her book I’m convinced of Moroney’s positive nature.
In the aftermath of the crime, after years of knock-downs, Moroney suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, weight loss and sleeplessness. Her family’s and close friends’ love and support sustained her through the fears, doubts, impoverishment of life and spirit and constant travel for jobs, court dates, prison locations and temporary places to stay.
There is redemption in her journey. Due in part to her belief in restorative justice she continues to fight for victim and prisoner rights. She returned to university and graduated with an MA, her dissertation based on a passionate interest in trauma recovery and restorative justice. Her life mission as an author and public speaker is to change treatments for prisoners, people who are often childhood victims themselves, and victims of criminal or traumatic crimes.
I was living in a landscape of broken dreams. As I tried to construct new ones, I found myself holding back with uncertainty. … I wanted to be able to trust and connect again. Shannon Moroney