Darkness to Light

Over the summer holidays, I worked with a group of people who had experienced something traumatic together.  We worked in a group to start off with, just listening to how everyone was feeling, and then I followed up with one to one sessions.

To start off with the work was focused on them just trying to make sense of what had happened, what they felt about it and how they had reacted to it.  But over time they started to notice that they were different.  It wasn’t  that they felt different, or were thinking differently, they felt fundamentally changed by the experience.  Not just changed, but changed in a positive way.

They noticed new courage, new vulnerability, new compassion, increased closeness in their relationships, more acceptance of people’s differences, new insights into the nature of life and how they wanted to live it.  They had turned darkness into light, something they wouldn’t have chosen to live through, into a positive life changing event.

When my first love died, when I was only 25, I remember thinking, that I had a choice.  I could shut down, curl up, feel bitter and never love anyone again or I could use his death to make a difference to my life.  When I look back on that decision, it is the one which led me into therapy, into all my therapeutic training, my PhD and ultimately into the work I do now.

Michael Buble was talking Chris Evans on Radio 2 yesterday.  Buble was candidly talking about his infant son’s life threatening cancer and how hard it had been for his family.  He talked about how, from how those kind of experience crack open your life and described how, it was through these cracks that the life shone through.  This has been my experience too.

I have also just finished reading The Devil at Home, by Rachel Williams (see below).  It is her story of domestic abuse and how her husband shot her at point blank range with a sawn off shot gun, leaving her for dead.  How he then went on to hang himself and how, within days, her son had hung himself too.  It is a brutal story of domestic abuse and its legacy.  And yet, Rachel has not only survived the unimaginable, but turned it into light.  She is happily remarried and campaigns powerfully to raise funds for and awareness of domestic abuse.

Into the Woods

I hope to do the same.  Into the Woods is moving forward.  All the illustrations are done, the typesetting has been proof read and I am just waiting for the legal review to come through in readiness for the launch on 25th November which is the UN day for the End To Violence Against Women and Girls.

Into the Woods is a collection of fairy tales based on interviews I did with real women about their experiences of domestic abuse.  My intention with it, is not only to turn the women’s experiences from darkness into light, but to educate and support people who are either in abusive relationships or know someone who is.

It tries to find answers to the questions such as “Why doesn’t she just leave?” or “Why did she get into it in the first place?”  Patterns of behaviour became clear as I was writing, and so did patterns of thoughts and up-bringing.  My hope is that by increasing awareness of these patterns we might keep our young women from finding themselves being one of the 1 in 4 women who experiences abuse in their life time.

A friend pinned me down and got me to talk on camera about the book…you can watch it here.

All profits from the paperback book will go to charities supporting families who are living with or escaping from domestic abuse.  So many people have gifted their time, experience and skills to help this book get its message into the world.  The women I interviewed, and how have approved the stories at every point, have given their stories so that others may learn from their experience.  Sue the interior designer has cut her costs and so has Alex who is doing the legal review.   Illustrator Anita Wyatt has worked her magic without charge as has the editor Kate Taylor from Middlefarm Press.

Together, we all believe we can make a difference.

I really want to start discussions about domestic abuse and to raise awareness of it.  Please will you help me do that by:
  1. Coming to the launch on 25th November 6-8 (you need to buy your tickets from Booka Bookshop, Oswestry, they are on sale now)
  2. Buying a copy of the book – pre-orders here: http://www.julieleoni.com/product/into-the-woods/
  3. Liking the facebook page and sharing it as widely as possible : https://www.facebook.com/IntoTheWoodsbyJulieLeoni/
  4. Sharing this information with your friends.  Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you think might be interested in the book and the cause.

“Into the Woods takes true stories of modern day abuse, co-dependence and domestic violence and retells them as spell binding, classic fairy tales, ingeniously combing self-help with magic and fantasy. This nurturing collection of tales shines light on these dark, seldom spoken about experiences to create a healing, informing and empowering resource. An absolute must read for women everywhere who will find at least one character they can relate to in these carefully crafted tales, uniting women to reclaim their power and potential.”

“I hope this book is read, shared, talked of, written about and passed from woman to woman. I hope it inspires more women to tell their stories and to grow in courage and strength. I hope it inspires women to support one other, to ask for help, to value themselves, to learn to put themselves first and to turn darkness into light. I hope it saves some lives”

“It genuinely has made me laugh and cry in equal measures…”

“Tales of fierce love, deep courage and tentative hope in the commitment of the hard work of recovery and healing”.

“Fucking hell, Julie Leoni…no really, just fucking hell! Goldilocks has left me all churned up, emotional…and blown to kingdom-fucking-come!”

Please help me turn darkness into light for everyone who has lived with or is living with domestic abuse.


If you enjoyed reading this please share it with friends. You might also be interested in talking to me about coaching , or maybe try some of my online courses (some are free), or treat yourself to a climate protecting pamper with vegan friendly, organic Tropic which supports the planting of forests and education in deprived areas.
Thanks for being here.