LIKE MANY SURVIVORS OF MAJOR TRAUMA, MY LIFE HAS A BEFORE AND AFTER.
The day that changed everything—November 8, 2005—happened six weeks after my 30th birthday, on my one-month wedding anniversary.
I was attending a conference a couple of hours away from home and there was a knock at my hotel room door. When I answered, the police officer standing there said, “I’m not here because someone has died. I’m here about your husband, Jason. He was arrested last night and charged with sexual assault.”
My husband, my best friend, had violated two women at his workplace and then kidnapped them and taken them to our home. To the little house we’d bought and renovated together. To the house I thought I would take my babies home to. It was now surrounded by yellow crime scene tape and splashed on the front page of the newspaper under the headline, “Monster appears in court.” I was completely shattered.
In an instant, the trajectory of the next decade—my thirties—changed dramatically.
My twenties had been defined by adventure and learning through travel for education and my work in international development. At 29, I had settled into making a difference through local volunteer work and a dream role as a high school guidance counsellor, with the goal that my thirties would be hallmarked by motherhood and further career growth. Instead, I started my 30th year with tragedy, trauma, stigma and shame. My goal, at least at first, was mere survival. To actually live fully again would mean rebuilding my life in every way imaginable, navigating the complex grief of losing my husband to life incarceration, enduring the pain of being punished for “guilt by association” by my employer and community, overcoming PTSD and coping with the helplessness I felt toward the victims—all while bushwhacking my way through the justice system as both a direct victim of crime (voyeurism) and a collateral victim of crime (wife of the offender).
No one had a guidebook to give me, so I figured it out one step at a time, by trial and error. My resilience was tested at every turn, and over time I carefully placed (and sometimes misplaced) the shards of glass into a mosaic that I could accept, build a new life on and, one day, even find beautiful. When I arrived in a better and safer time, I wrote the book I’d needed in my darkest hour—Through the Glass—and with its publication came a reach far greater than I’d ever imagined. I transformed my voicelessness, vulnerability, violation and exposure to violence, and became vocal, validated, vindicated, valued and vibrant. Then, a new purpose emerged: To help others do the same.
THE LANDSCAPE OF MY LIFE WAS MADE OF BROKEN GLASS AND I HAD TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE IT SAFE TO WALK ON AGAIN.
Through writing, speaking, visual art, facilitating workshops and leading retreats, I share my story all over the world and support others to process and share theirs. At home in Toronto where I live with my twin girls, I'm the founder and clinical director of Heal for Real Therapy and Consulting. My team and I specialize in treating survivors of sexual assault and trafficking, the family members of people who have offended sexually, and people on justice journeys. Our mission is to move our clients out of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and into PTSG (Post-Traumatic Super Growth). I'm a certified EMDR (Eye movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) clinician, and I employ art, writing and restorative justice modalities in the healing process.
In addition to my clinical work in private practice, I provide expert testimony in court, consultation on crime bills, and I guide lawyers, law enforcement and journalists to pursue trauma-informed practices. I've had the honour of being interviewed on countless podcasts and TV shows across Canada and internationally, including as a guest expert appearance on The Dr. Phil Show in March 2023.
Since 2020, I have worked closely with survivors of disgraced fashion mogul Peter Nygard, who is currently on trial to face sex trafficking and assault charges in both Canada and the USA. My work as a therapist, advocate and spokesperson is featured in the CBC documentary Evil By Design: Surviving Nygard, the award-winning podcast by the same name, and Unseamly: The Investigation of Peter Nygard, available on Discovery+, Apple TV and Amazon Prime.
My sense of humour, sunny personality (so said the National Post), soul-source positivity, and boundless energy are the gifts I love to give to my family, friends, clients and community. Since my work is often quite gritty, my pastimes are pretty. I love to garden, bake cakes, throw parties, sing and play the guitar, and design beautiful spaces. One I was even featured on HGTV.com for the design of my writing studio! Pure fun.
I also find that fighting for justice and healing is best done wearing fabulous earrings, or that perfect shade of F-U-schia. What about you?
SHANNON MORONEY is the author of two bestselling memoirs: Through the Glass, her own story following the violent crimes of her first husband; and Out of the Shadows, the story of human trafficking survivor Timea Nagy. Her newest book, Heal for Real: A guided journal to forgiving others—and yourself, is a transformative self-help guide to healing by exploring what she calls, “The new F word,” forgiveness. She is also the creator of a contemplative deck of cards that offers 52 concepts of forgiveness for you to consider, and a fun line of t-shirts and merchandise that promote messages about forgiveness and resilience, such as “Forgiveness is the new F-Word” and “Resilience is my Superpower”. She is also the designer of a line of empathy-building greeting cards, “Find the Words”.
Shannon is an internationally recognized advocate of restorative justice, a powerful speaker, one of the “world’s 50 most resilient people” (Global Resilience Project), a New York Times “Woman in the World” recommended writer, and is featured by the international Forgiveness Project. She travels extensively to lead transformative forgiveness and healing retreats for people and communities overcoming trauma, and those that cause it. She has lived and worked in Ecuador, Indonesia, England, The Arctic and all over North America. She is comfortable mingling at a cocktail party or driving a truck on an ice road.
In her private practice, Heal for Real Therapy and Consulting, Shannon and her team specialize in treating survivors of sexual assault and trafficking, the family members of people who have offended sexually, and people on justice journeys. Her mission is to move her clients out of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and into PTSG ( Post-Traumatic Super Growth). Shannon is a certified EMDR (Eye movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) clinician, and employs art, writing and restorative justice modalities in the healing process.
In addition to her clinical work in private practice, Shannon provides expert testimony in court, consultation on crime bills, and she guides lawyers, law enforcement and journalists to pursue trauma-informed practices. She has been interviewed on countless podcasts and TV shows internationally, and appeared as a guest expert on Dr. Phil in March 2023. Shannon has been the survivor advocate on the international investigation into disgraced fashion mogul Peter Nygard since 2020. Her work is featured in the CBC documentary Evil By Design: Surviving Nygard, the award-winning podcast by the same name, and Unseamly: The Investigation of Peter Nygard, available on Discovery+.
Shannon’s sense of humour, sunny personality, soul-source positivity, and boundless energy are gifts she loves to give to her family, friends and community. She says that since her work is often quite "gritty", her pastimes are "pretty". She loves to garden, bake cakes, throw parties, sing and play the guitar, and design beautiful spaces. She was even featured on HGTV.com for her design of her writing studio.
Shannon also finds that fighting for justice is best done wearing fabulous earrings, or that perfect shade of F-U-schia.
Shannon Moroney lives in Toronto, Canada with her twin daughters.
Contact Shannon below, or visit her practice at www.healforreal.org