“On the last day in court, after so much pain and loss was described by the victims, it seemed like all that had happened was that one person was sent to prison and everyone else was just sent home. There was no peace or healing. Justice wasn’t going to be served to anyone—that was something each of us would have to work for in our own lives.” - Shannon Moroney

Shannon Moroney

Resilience, Restorative Justice and Violence against Women Expert

On November 2005, 30-year old Shannon Moroney was a respected educator, proud homeowner, active volunteer and happy newlywed. While away attending a conference, a knock at her hotel room door shattered the life she knew. It was a police officer, there to deliver the shocking news that her home was a crime scene. Her husband Jason was in custody after confessing to the violent sexual assault and kidnapping of two women. Grief, confusion, stigma and loss stalked her. Within weeks, she lost her job, her income, her ability to trust and the future she planned for. She felt agony for the assault victims but was powerless to help them. The effects of her husband’s violence rippled through the community and lines were drawn. Some relationships ended, while others strengthened.

Shannon Moroney also had to grapple with Jason’s past. His past included a violent episode as a teenager which ended with the death of a woman and conviction of second-degree murder. A decade in prison followed by years of parole had made him a success story of rehabilitation and an example of the redemptive powers of the system. By the time they met, Jason was re-establishing his life and giving back to the community. Officials were certain that he would never re-offend. Therefore Shannon chose to become part of his second chance: the best second chance that anyone could ask for. They built a beautiful life together.

But underneath his positive exterior, Jason had hidden a dark side: fear, addiction, sexual deviance and a childhood history of abuse. Telling himself that he was in control of his demons, he didn’t reach out for help until it was too late—until he’d terribly harmed two innocent victims, torn apart the lives of many more, and landed himself back in prison. While Jason spent months in solitary confinement, Shannon was thrust into a painful and uncertain new identity—left to answer for Jason in his absence, face public scrutiny over her marriage, cope with a major criminal investigation, and mourn the loss of the life she’d known.

Shannon Moroney faced difficult choices as she searched for a path that would lead her out of trauma and toward a positive future. She was awarded a fellowship to complete a Masters’ degree in England where she studied trauma and resilience. When she returned to Canada, Shannon Moroney became active in the emerging field of restorative justice and began speaking out about her experience. She shares a raw and honest account of the impact that Jason’s crimes had on her professional and community status, as well as on her relationships with others and herself. In detailing her heartbreaking story of grief, violence, judgment and stigma, she also tells the story of a journey filled with compassion, restoration, forgiveness and hope. Since 2008, Shannon has been addressing audiences around the world.

Her memoir, Through the Glass, was published in Canada in 2011 where it became an instant national bestseller and nominee for several awards including the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction. In 2012, it was published internationally. Shannon Moroney now lives in Toronto, Canada, where she is remarried and the mother of twins. A volunteer with Leave Out ViolencE (LOVE), she is also a contributor to the international Forgiveness Project.

Topic Presentations

In this intimate and gripping journey into prisons, courtrooms and the human heart, Shannon Moroney reveals the far-reaching impact of her ex-husband’s crimes and the agonizing choices faced by the loved ones of offenders. In so doing, she addresses the implicit dangers of a correctional system and a society that prioritizes punishment over rehabilitation, and victimhood over recovery. Maroney candidly shares the agony and helplessness she felt toward her husband’s assault victims and articulates her painful transition from being a respected professional, homeowner and active community member one day, to being the wife of a sex offender the next.

Shannon Moroney advocates for the recognition, voice and support for all people harmed by crime: direct victims of offences and those collaterally harmed, like the family of the offender. She challenges readers and audiences to understand the “ripple-effect of crime” in a nuanced way. Shannon shares the possibilities for restorative justice to address the needs of victims and hold offenders to account in a meaningful way, beyond mere punishment. She frequently addresses prison inmates with the aim of building empathy, while advocating that governments work to address the root causes of crime, poverty, lack of education, child abuse, trauma and mental illness. Shannon speaks to the healing possibility of forgiveness, sharing her own experience of “forgiving the person, but not the crimes.” She is a member of the International Forgiveness Project.

Geared toward seasoned and novice writers as well as literature lovers, this presentation offers wisdom and advice on caring for oneself and one’s manuscript while writing about trauma and difficult times. Shannon shares her own writing journey and discusses the private and public experience of opening her heart and memory, and provides the audience with practical tools for their own writing. Whether the goal is to publish, to document a journey, or to find personal healing, participants will come away with tools and resources to guide the process. Recounting doesn’t have to mean reliving.

Is resilience something you're born with or something you can develop? What makes a person, community or society elastic and able to overcome life's challenges, big and small? Sharing her own personal journey to recover from the trauma of her husband's violent crimes, and her extensive knowledge of the peace building process worldwide, Shannon Moroney engages the audience in a bigger understanding of what "being elastic" is all about and offers practical advice for building resilience in yourself and your family, workplace, school, community and society.

Part of being human is getting hurt. Sometimes we hurt others; sometimes others hurt us. We even hurt ourselves. Holding onto this hurt and allowing it to dictate the course of our lives can have negative long-term consequences. Forgiveness can change the shape of our journeys. It can release anger, fear, judgement and resentment, and open the door to peace and a positive future.

The "F" Word is an experiential workshop conducted in a circle format to enable all participants to share equally in an exploration of what forgiveness may or may not represent for them. A series of exercises and storytelling offers a rich and thoughtful perspective designed to connect the individual to his or her own story. This workshop can be adapted to groups of different sizes and compositions, from youth to divorcees to mental health professionals to prison inmates. An expanded version is also available for day and weekend retreats.

Participants are invited to explore some common misconceptions about forgiveness, the benefits and potential drawbacks of forgiveness, the role of apology, self-forgiveness and situations without the potential for dialogue or remorse.

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Language Spoken

English

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Toronto, Ontario

THROUGH THE GLASS

An impassioned, harrowing and ultimately hopeful story of one woman's pursuit of justice, forgiveness and healing. When Shannon Moroney married in October of 2005, she had no idea that her happy life as a newlywed was about to come crashing down around her. One month after her wedding, a police officer arrived at her door to tell her that her husband, Jason, had been arrested and charged in the brutal assault and kidnapping of two women. In the aftermath of these crimes, Shannon dealt with a heavy burden of grief, the stress and publicity of a major criminal investigation, and the painful stigma of guilt-by-association, all while attempting to understand what had made Jason turn to such violence. In this intimate and gripping journey into prisons, courtrooms and the human heart, Shannon reveals the far-reaching impact of Jason's crimes, the agonizing choices faced by the loved ones of offenders and the implicit dangers of a correctional system and a society that prioritizes punishment over rehabilitation, and victimhood over recovery.

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