Many of us have faced difficult circumstances in life, and some of us even have stories that stop people in their tracks. But when I had the opportunity to read Susan Murphy Milano’s book, Holding My Hand Through Hell, I needed a few days to even begin to process what I’d read.
Susan shares her life in a real and honest way that brings you in, keeps you engrossed, and leaves you with vivid images that won’t soon be forgotten. Though I knew the quick notes of Susan’s background, I could never have imagined exactly what life was like for a young girl growing up in a home defined by abuse.
Susan’s book reads as easily as a novel, flowing like a crafted story instead of the real life horror that it truly is. Susan’s father doled out fear as other fathers dole out love and encouragement. He was abusive on every level and in every way, and had the ultimate control because of being a respected police officer who accurately and sadly said that no one would believe them. That was true despite multiple hospitalizations of her mother due to injuries inflicted over the years, including a near death beating after an attempt to escape that horror.
Susan’s story could have very well ended with the tragic, though not shocking murder of her mother by her father, fulfilling his promise to control her till the end. But thankfully, that was no where near the end of Susan’s story, as she began not just advocating for, but fighting for victims. Through her book, we begin to understand the passion that was born from the pain and tragedy. We would understand and almost expect someone who experiences Susan’s life to spend their years damaged and trying to recover themselves. However, Susan’s life is clearly a platform to reach others, fight for victims, and now through sharing her story, to push others to do the same. To say that she is a strong woman doesn’t begin to describe who she is.
Though Susan has long offered education and tools to empower and protect victims, this book should open our eyes to how much is still to be done. After fighting for her life, her mother’s life and the lives of victims, Susan is now fighting another battle, today against cancer. No matter the outcome of this fight, Susan has created a legacy through her work and her honest sharing of this story.
Just as Susan’s mother brought light and love into a dark home, we all have the chance to be the light of hope for victims. Susan realized that she had never really been alone, that God had held her hand through hell, often by placing His people beside her. Even in the greatest darkness, even while walking through hell, we are asked to be God’s hands and feet for those who need Him most. Few people are able to inspire us to do so as well as Susan.
This is truly a must read, and I’m honored to share it with you. It can be found at:
Holding My Hand Through Hell
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