Susan Murphy recalls people saying how lucky she was to have such a fantastic father in Chicago Police Department Detective Phillip Murphy. As a little girl, she could do nothing more than smile and nod, lest she become the target of her father’s outrage.
Susan and her younger brother, Bobby, suffered multiple beatings by their father but most of the time his anger was directed at his wife, Roberta. At least once Roberta Murphy tried to escape her abusive marriage, only to be drug home by her police officer husband who’d told her she would never leave him alive.
And he wasn’t wrong.
On the night of January 19, 1989, Susan Murphy Milano knew something was wrong when she couldn’t reach her mother. Fearing the worst, Susan sped to her childhood home and discovered her mother lying dead on the kitchen floor. Her father had committed suicide in an upstairs bedroom. Just weeks before, her mother had finally fled the relationship and filed for divorce.
That night, Susan vowed another woman would never die at the hands of an abusive husband and became a loud, very loud, advocate for battered woman. There was just one problem, she forgot to be an advocate for herself.
Susan’s story in Holding My Hand Through Hell is heartbreaking. Readers watch as the scars form in her childhood, through her own abusive relationships, until finally her self-realization on God and relationships.
I admire Susan for sharing her story. As the granddaughter of an abused woman who stayed in a physically violent relationship for far too long, I understand the self-blame and shame that comes in sharing such a story as well as the long-term effects on the children who lived in such turmoil.
For the just-the-facts true crime fans, I have to regrettably say, you’ll probably want to skip it. Only about the first 120 pages, give or take a couple, is centered on the crime; the remainder chronicles Susan’s own turbulent relationships and her efforts as a domestic violence advocate. However, readers such as I who love the “story behind the story” will love it.
I’m sorry to say Susan is loosing her battle with ovarian cancer. The world is soon to be less one more victim’s rights advocate. Another earthbound angel is going to collect her heavenly wings. Susan Murphy Milano has left behind a legacy many will carry forward. She will never be forgotten.