Well, it is hard to believe, but after three long years the book that I co-authored with Lisa Bonnice will be released in June. Fear of Our Father was a project that took many different directions before it ended up as a final product. First, the title was Sink or Swim but that was changed by the publisher. Then, it took many long interviews followed by many hours of therapy for the book to unfold. To say that it was a labor of love would be inaccurate, but it is a labor that I am proud of.
While this book tells my life story of abuse, the murder of my parents, my trial, and being found not guilty, it is meant to show people that no matter what happens in your life you can survive. The road to healing is hard and long, I am still in therapy, but you can work towards healing at your pace. The book and my quest to try to change the way people respond about abuse has lead me to interact with many advocates, especially on the internet. They are much further along with their healing, but have shown me that I can let my childhood pain be put to good use.
I was saddened when the title was changed because I felt that the book’s message would be tainted. However, as the book progressed, I realized that the title doesn’t change the story we are telling–one of horrific abuse to an entire family and of my survival. We weren’t aiming to be published in the “true crime” genre but, technically, that’s what it is. I hope that the purpose of the story– to try to help abuse survivors, to show them they can make it through, no matter what–is not lost.
I started this book with Lisa to open people’s eyes. My therapist says I have a story to share that could help others. I still am hoping that I can accomplish this. I want to see the SOL Center flourish and become a safe haven to help the abused and to assist in the change of the abusers. I am proud that we finished this project and that it will be released in June 2013. I am hopeful that it will make many people realize that no one ever really knows what goes on behind the closed doors of a home. Fear of our Father is my attempt to change the way people think about child abuse, domestic violence and look for those silent cries for help.
I hold out a special place in my heart that this book will find its way to my sister and her children, so that they can learn who the real me is, not the picture in their heads put there from my arrest and my trial. May they realize that abuse has harmed us all, and we all have much to heal from. To my brother, who is now in prison, may he know that I am sorry I never realized just how much pain he was experiencing from his childhood, and how I wish I could have seen it and gotten him help.
Last, but certainly not least, may my mom–from where she is–be proud of me for taking this step. May she reach into our hearts and help us find the peace she finally has from the abuse. It is my wish, Mom, that this project gives your difficult life and tragic death new meaning, and that people will be helped in your honor. Happy Mother’s Day.
The book Fear of Our Father is being released June 4, 2013 by Penguin Group Berkley Books. Please take the time to read it, and if you feel moved please reach out to join or assist the SOL Center get off the ground.
Stacey M. Kananen
Advocate, Author, Abuse survivor
Co-founder of Spectrum of Light Transformation Center (formerly called Amnesty From Abuse)
Stacey Kananen’s father violently and sexually abused his entire family. He vanished in 1988 and 15 years later his wife went missing. Stacey’s brother had killed both parents. Stacey cooperated as a witness until he told police that she helped him with the crimes. She was arrested and her trial, which aired on CNN’s In Session, ended with a not guilty verdict after her attorney proved that she had been railroaded.
Now that her personal life is no longer private, Stacey is using her story to make waves. She and co-author Lisa Bonnice have written her life story, Fear of Our Father, to be published by Berkley Books in June 2013. They created the Spectrum of Light Transformation Center program to address the dynamic that stops families from asking for help: fear, shame and hopelessness. She states, “Most people feel that abusers should be punished and I agree, if they are as abusive as my father was. However, some people don’t want to abuse others but that is all they know. For them to have a nonjudgmental opportunity to heal and change, I feel, is tantamount to ending the cycle of abuse.”
Fear of Our Father – Berkley Books, 2013
Emmy nominated BBC Documentary: America’s Child Death Shame
Investigation Discovery series Catch My Killer — episode title “The Dearly Departed”
Tampa Bay Times article: Hudson woman finds new life after years of abuse, allegations of murder