Sunday, October 02, 2011

Books: Through the Glass

I have had the privilege of reading an advance copy of Shannon Moroney’s book – Through the Glass. This is a raw, very personal story of violence, betrayal, and the hope for real justice. It is written by a woman who has been devastated, stripped of her identity and livelihood, and stretched to the limits of compassion, love and forgiveness.

Moroney had been married for one month when a police officer knocked on her door to tell her that her husband had been arrested for violent sexual assaults and kidnapping. In that moment, her world came crashing down around her – and this book is the story of her pained, determined journey to hope, healing and recovery.

One of the major hurdles which Moroney faced was that she did not fit neatly into the traditional criminal justice system. As the wife of an offender, she was not seen as a victim (even though she had been a victim of voyeurism which was discovered after the arrest) and so could not access help through victims’ services. Instead she faced the stigma of guilt-by-association – from her community, her employers and even close friends.

Moroney never denies or minimizes the violence, harm and betrayal of her husband’s actions. Yet amazingly she continued to stand by him and support him. The book traces her struggle to come to terms with what he did and with what could have brought him to commit such brutal attacks. But more than this, it is about her own struggle to heal.

As Moroney points out, there are thousands of offenders in Canadian jails – for each of these offenders there are not only victims, but in most cases there are also families – spouses, parents, siblings, children. These people are profoundly impacted by an offender’s actions and the punishment received – and yet their voices and perspectives are almost never heard, especially in the traditional court of law.

I believe her book will be invaluable to families of offenders – as well as to victims, offenders, and many others who work within or are touched by the criminal justice system. It is also a strident call for a more humane justice system and a prioritization of rehabilitation over punishment.

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