For the greater good, could I do it?

After one month of marriage, the police arrive at her door.  Her husband had been charged with aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping and there was no mistake because he turned himself in.  She shouldn’t have been overly surprised, of course, he had murdered someone 10 years before, but there is more to this story.

On October 10th, 2011, I wrote a blog post about an article that was in the Globe and Mail by Shannon Moroney, the author of a book called Through the Glass.  Frankly I was quite upset at the audacity of this women for having painted herself as a victim, when by my estimation, and after having read the article, she was the author of her own misfortune.  I was quite angry.

Yesterday, in a meeting at a publishing house, and during a discussion on writing styles, I was presented with this exact book as an example.

The first words out of my mouth were “have you actually met this women?” as I had often imagined a conversation between the two of us, and not a pleasant one at that.  I quickly decided this was not the place for a debate on the character flaws of the author and graciously and sincerely appreciated the gift in the spirit that it was given.

Aside from the excellent writing, I highly recommend reading the book, especially for a book club where some discussion can be had.  Although I am particularly insensitive to people who whine and complain about anything they have knowingly brought upon themselves, it was in reading this book last night (and I finished it in one sitting) that the author was able to allow me, to see myself in her story.  Certainly this was something I would have thought impossible.

As the author, in my life, I have also been too quick to trust, too quick to love and jump in with both feet before the rose on my glasses could clear. I always assume that life will be grand and whatever I want, if I work hard enough, will come to me.   In this, she and I are similar.

Regardless of how the author found herself in her situation does not detract from the good that has come of it.  She could have been her husband’s most ardent enemy, shouting loud and clear to anyone who would listen that she had been betrayed after giving him a second chance, or quietly fade into the background, moving and changing jobs to begin her life anew.   Instead she chose to stay and fight for the life she was not ready to give up.    This resulted in a genuine struggle with friends, her community and even her feelings towards a man she truly loved.

Of course, this was, once again, her decision.  She was definitely a victim of “guilt by association’ which, although a risk she took when deciding to marry a convicted murderer, not particular pleasant to live through.   I think we all have a tendency to judge too quickly before putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes without knowing what life lessons they use as a guide for their behaviour.

But more importantly than all of this, is the end result of this experience, the lessons learned and the benefit to others that is now manifesting in the author’s life.

Restorative justice is the bringing together of victim and offender to have questions answered, apologies given, with emotional accountability and forgiveness as the ultimate goal.   Statistics show a much lower recidivism rate for offenders who participate in these programs and since almost all offenders will rejoin society at some point, it’s a program that should continue.  This has become the author’s life work and it’s an honourable one.

Not every offender, nor every victim is willing to risk opening the wounds that have begun to heal by participating in this type of program.  At this point in my life, I have no need to seek out a relationship with either David Bagshaw or Melissa Todorovic, and am sure that there will never be a good enough answer to justify what they did.

However, as I read this book and then slept very little last night, it occurred to me that it isn’t about my need to connect with them, but rather my responsibility to protect other families from the hell we lived.

I will now spend some time finding out more about the benefits of restorative justice and if my efforts would make any difference.  It wouldn’t be easy and I wouldn’t jump in with both feet, or be too quick to act, but I will turn my thoughts to this now and then and see where it takes me.

Before reading this book, I likened the author to someone so spoiled she couldn’t handle a bruised ego and in feeling sorry for herself she wrote a book to get sympathy, not realizing how angry her “victim” story would make true victims feel.  The connection to restorative justice wasn’t clearly explained in the Globe and Mail article, and I now apologize to her the best way I can.

We can all learn from each other and her journey touched me much more profoundly then I expected.  I’m grateful to her and her publisher for having written this book and I hope that many others will read it and glean their own life lessons from it’s pages.

The author, Shannon Moroney, is now a restorative justice advocate and speaks internationally on the ripple effects of crime.

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7 Responses to For the greater good, could I do it?

  1. Paul McFadden says:

    I don’t believe in restorative justice and I may never be there! Justice is a joke to me! I hate to use the work justice anymore! We have a legal system that follows the laws of the crown and bends them as they need be to save money with reduced charges and plea bargains. *** all in the name of saving the family the grief of a trial… Exaggerated sentences that are a joke. When my sons killer was asked by one of his friends how he felt after killing Nathaniel, his answer was what the F%#k…….. I could not see me sitting across from this man in a mediation or restorative what ever. I only found out afterwards if I’d had the money to hire my self a lawyer the killer/murderer would of gotten a sentence that was more appropriate for his crime!! Why should a victim have to hire a lawyer.. My friend witnessed his mother shot to death by her boyfriend when he was about 10. It led him to a life of violence figuring one day in prison he’d take his revenge only to find that they would never place them together. 20 so years later he did have a meeting and yes he did tell his mothers killer he forgave him all the while this killer kept blaming his mother for what happened. This killer did die a terrible natural death in prison. My friend said it was like a big load was lifted off his shoulders in forgiving him but for me I can’t see me ever going there.

    • patriciahung says:

      I know Paul, it’s not easy. It’s not a justice system, it’s a legal system or a criminal system and I also wish they didn’t use that term. You don’t need to feel as if you should ever consider restorative justice, not if you don’t want to, that’s perfectly fine. I’m not saying it’s something I’m ready to jump into now or ever, but I will give it some thought. I don’t particularly believe that it’s my place to forgive anyone, I think that’s God’s job and I leave that to Him. Our job Paul is to be as happy as we can be, because our children would expect that of us. Some people need a program like restorative justice to reach that point, and that’s good for them.

  2. Paul McFadden says:

    Yes Patricia , Ours is a “legal” system, not a “justice” system. If it was a justice system, whatever is right and common sense would prevail more often. To forgive is to set a prisoner free only to discover that prisioner was you. Matthew: 6 : 14 &15 says it also in a biblical way…….I’ll leave forgiveness for my sons killer in Gods hands. It did work for my friend but that was after 20 years and it been just over 3. I think though that like you say it should be considered and I did.

  3. Teresa Flanagan says:

    Hi Partricia: I can’t comment on the topic of restorative justice. I have never been a victim of violence, nor has anyone in my family. I have not read Shannon Moroney’s book, but I will make a point of reading it soon, only out of a sense of curiousity. However, I do remember the original article in the Globe. To refresh my memory, I recently re-read it. When I read the piece the first time, I too, felt angry that she had portrayed herself as a victim. My feelings have not changed upon second glance. I do not believe for one minute that that her ex-husband’s crimes of sexual assault were like a “sudden eruption of terminal cancer”. She must have had many underlying, unsettling feelings that all was not well with him, for quite some time. Forget what all the professionals said about his so-called rehabilitation – they didn’t live with him in an intimate relationship on a daily basis. Moroney’s quote “I did not know Jason was dangerous” speaks to a profound denial – not naivete – but an emotional unwillingness to probe deeper into probably what were very troubling feelings. To fob off her huband’s second bout of criminal activity as being caused by failures in the criminal justice system is simply irresponsible.

    • patriciahung says:

      Thank you Teresa, for being so honest. I too, when re-reading the article in The Globe became angry. The focus of the article is more on her story as a “victim” and blaming the criminal justice system, rather than the end result. I’m not sure why it was written that way, perhaps it was a calculated decision to start a conversation about the book to increase sales, but whatever the reason, it painted her in a very bad light.

      I agree with you completely, and although there is one sentence in the book referring to their intimate life, stating that he was nothing but gentle and loving, I struggle to believe it was healthy and normal.

      Do I believe she was a true victim? No. Do I blame our justice system for his re-offending? No, and in doing so is irresponsible, I agree with you.
      But is she right about restorative justice? Yes.

      There are many people who are affected by crime aside from the actual victims, including unsuspecting parents, siblings, co-workers, or anyone whose trust has been broken, even if they are not the actual victim. We don’t have to agree with or even like the author, but we can respect her for the dedication she is bringing to the lives of many through restorative justice.

  4. janet brown says:

    Ihave read Moroney’s book, and I live in Peterborough, where her husband’s crimes were comitted. In many places throughout the book, Moroney refers to everyone else (the principal at the school where Moroney worked, the local media, many of her friends, the entire Corrections system) as having contributed to Moroney’s “victimization”. Does this really seem possible to a rational readers? people considering buying the book should be aware that a lawyer representing one of the victims of Moroney’s husband wrote to a local paper stating that the widespread publicity (and profit) that Moroney has received from the book has increased his client’s profound and very true sense of vicitmisation.

    • patriciahung says:

      Janet, thank you so much for this information. It makes me feel quite ill knowing the actual victims are feeling re-victimized. Certainly if the families of the two who killed my daughter decided to write a book about how they felt like victims, which in some ways I can acknowledge that they were, I would be upset too. I hope that I have not contributed to that in any way.

      I do think though, that the discussion about restorative justice is a good one and it might be an option for some people to help them move forward with their lives.

      Thank you again for sharing.

      Patricia

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