Local author raises awareness about domestic abuse at book launch
A year ago this month, 33-year-old mother Andrea Conroy was killed by her boyfriend Rick Doucette. Just over two months later, 23-year-old Hayley Wourms and her two-year-old son were shot to death by her husband Darren Wourms.
The memory of these women was front-and-centre at the Unmask the Liar book launch, held at Airdrie’s Lutheran Church on Feb. 5.
“I remember thinking, ‘God that could have been me,’” said author Lisa St. Julien-Kroeger of the death of Conroy.
She recalled being on the road and having to pull over when she heard the news of Wourms’ death because she said she was overwhelmed with two domestic-violence deaths occurring in such a short timeframe and in a city with such a small population.
St. Julien-Kroeger, a mother of three boys and a domestic-abuse survivor, told the crowd about 30 people at the book launch it was at that point she knew she had to share her story and write this book.
“(The deaths of these women) really made a change in Lisa,” said Kim Reinhart, St. Julien-Kroeger’s divorce lawyer, who deals with many domestic abuse cases and a speaker at the event. “It galvanized her.”
“My book is a tool,” St. Julien-Kroeger said. “It provides a concrete plan from someone who’s been there.”
Unmask the Liar is aimed at providing individuals with the strategies to leave an abusive relationship and never return to it, said the event’s MC and St. Julien-Kroeger’s friend and supporter Yvonne Basten.
“The beauty with Lisa’s book is it provides a step-by-step of what she did (to get out of the relationship),” Reinhart said.
“I have several clients who really need to read this book.”
She added that she will be keeping a stack of the books in her office to give to clients.
“Lisa’s story is amazing and heartbreaking at the same time,” Chris Kroeger said of his wife’s book at the event. The couple are newlyweds who married this past December. Unmask the Liar addresses steps to keep children safe, the realities of the legal system and the physical illness that comes with being “in a constant state of crisis and depression,” she said.
She also writes about the financial issues related to leaving an abusive relationship.
“I had to relocate four times because he kept finding me,” St. Julien-Kroeger said of her abuser. “And that costs a lot of money.”
Richard Douglas Herdman, an outspoken Airdrie resident fighting to bring attention to issues of poverty and abuse in Airdrie, said at the event he would purchase “as many books as (St. Julien-Kroeger) can supply.” He added he will take them to City Hall and give them to aldermen and the mayor.
“My point is to create a platform to make it OK to talk about it,” she said. “I want people to know you’re not alone.”
Attendees of the event included St. Julien-Kroeger’s publisher, her oldest son Riley, friends, family and people who have acted as mentors to the author.
“(I came tonight) to support (St. Julien-Kroeger) and what she’s been through,” said Tammie Dawe, who purchased the book and had it signed by the author at the event.
Another supporter, Jayne Lewis, said she came to celebrate the author.
“She’s persevered over the years and we want to support that,” she said.
St. Julien-Kroeger is the executive director and owner of Real Kids Consulting who works at Airdrie’s Mountain Health Team, located at 213 Main Street.
She said Unmask the Liar is the first of a five-part series she is planning to write about domestic abuse.
Ten per cent of the profits from the book launch will go towards Dani’s Fund, for Conroy’s seven-year-old daughter, Dani. Another 20 per cent will be donated to St. Julien-Kroeger’s Women In True Transition Foundation, which supports domestic violence prevention.
Unmask the Liar is available at amazon.ca and www.wittfoundation.org in printed form for $19.95 and eBook form for $9.95.