~~ Shannon’s guest post ~~
The Blood on my Hands was written many years ago but I never had the courage to publish it. It was my feeling that the story never was finished as subsequent events and time hurtled me into new facets of my life. I became a mother and my father was still alive so I was too frightened to give my written words a voice. As a child my attempts to tell people what was going on at home was met with disdain, anger and disbelief. My situation seemed futile in the 1960s and 70s as the child protection and domestic violence laws were very different.
However, when my father died my mother said it was time to publish the book. For both of us it was a form of healing which held remnants of closure. I can express my trauma through writing and my innate love of the written word has set me on a new path. Through music my soul learnt to sing again and the written word has been the bandage which soothed and healed a jaggered and wounded past.
When people are in an abusive situation they feel worthless. Their self-esteem is often diminished to the point where they feel like a hermit crab without it’s shell; vulnerable and with nowhere to hide. Through my book I’d hope people realize that if they do get away from the abuser, a new life of healing can begin. For those who have children, escape from the perpetrator is their only chance to grow under the love and guidance of the single caring and loving parent. Children hear the arguments and see the abuse around them and despite their resilience; they also can fracture and break.
My mother survived her tormented past and found a caring lifelong partner. My brothers grew into wonderful men. They also became responsible citizens and loving fathers. My own children blessed me with a happiness I had never experienced before and my long term partner is my rock and soul mate. I am grateful for the resilience of childhood and despite all that happened, know that it made me who I am. My mothers courage and friendship weaves a bond that will never be broken as we look to the future and live for today, not dwelling on the past.
The Blood on my Hands is a grim read but hopefully it will open people’s eyes to those who are repressed and get them to offer assistance. I also hope the book gives those who are in a situation that seems terminally abusive, the courage to get away from the predator and start again.
Set in 1960s and ‘70s Australia, The Blood on My Hands is the dramatic tale of Shannon O’Leary’s childhood years. O’Leary grew up under the shadow of horrific domestic violence, sexual and physical abuse, and serial murder. Her story is one of courageous resilience in the face of unimaginable horrors.
The responses of those whom O’Leary and her immediate family reach out to for help are almost as disturbing as the crimes of her violent father. Relatives are afraid to bring disgrace to the family’s good name, nuns condemn the child’s objections as disobedience and noncompliance, and laws at the time prevent the police from interfering unless someone is killed.
The Blood on My Hands is a heartbreaking—yet riveting—narrative of a childhood spent in pain and terror, betrayed by the people who are supposed to provide safety and understanding, and the strength and courage it takes, not just to survive and escape, but to flourish and thrive.
“The Blood on My Hands is a powerful, dark memoir… O’Leary tells how she and her family suffered at the hands of an abusive father with a multiple personality disorder. O’Leary actually witnessed her father murder people and animals. No one, not even the authorities, would help O’Leary and her family. This is O’Leary’s story about how they eventually got away from her father, but never truly escaped him or his heinous acts… parts of the book are so graphic that you do not want to believe that these things actually happened. Parts like these made it hard for me to put the book down. I knew what was about to happen, but I could not force myself to look away… This is a story that is going to remain in my mind for a long time.” – 4 Stars, Reviewed by Jessyca Garcia for Readers’ Favorite
About the Author:
Shannon O’Leary is a prolific writer and performer. She is the author of several books of poetry and children’s stories, and she has won many awards for song-writing.
Shannon has acted and directed on the stage and on Australian national TV, and she runs her own production company.
She has numerous graduate and post-graduate degrees in education, music, and science. She is a teacher and academic, has five children with her deceased former husband, and lives with her longtime partner in Sydney, Australia.