From the Heart of An Abandoned Daughter is about the trauma of family violence. It highlights the inner struggle of the author’s childhood attempt to cope with a terrorizing father and a mother who was so focused on survival that she had to block her own feelings and, consequently, disconnect from her children, leaving them to feel emotionally abandoned rather than protected. Without passing judgment on her parents, Helen tells the story of what happened and how she coped by creating strategies for survival that then became crippling patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving in her adult life. She explains these patterns and offers resources for personal change. This book helps women who grew up with family violence understand its effects on their adult lives, find hope for healing, and feel empowered to re-write their own life narrative.
Twenty-five years later, the trauma of her violent childhood caught up with her and she was hospitalized, deeply depressed. Thus began her journey of discovery and healing which included eventually making the painful decision to leave her Congregation. Her inner work required her to face and embrace the self she had abandoned. In time, she married the man who would become her best friend, and was devastated when he died of cancer ten years later.
Through her work as a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and advocate for abused women, Helen has taught and counseled many women toward self-empowerment. She continues to offer compassionate guidance and hope for healing, especially to women who have grown up with family violence. She believes that we can be more than survivors—that we can return to our true selves, replace the patterns that kept us imprisoned, and thrive as whole, happy persons.
About the Author:
Helen Coleman Gennari, MSW, LCSW, left home at age sixteen to find work in the city to help pay bills accumulated by her abusive father. When she joined a religious order of nuns a year later, she did not realize that she brought with her the childhood turmoil and pain that she had successfully buried.