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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