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Author of memoir of domestic violence, sexual abuse to speak in Hastings

Mary Havens recently released a book entitled "The Shadows In My Heart," a memoir of her life. Photo by Gayle Warren

Mary Havens lived with secrets for most of her life. They were secrets of subjects that most people do not want to talk about.

Those family secrets are revealed in her new book "The Shadows In My Heart," a memoir of her life story.

"It's a subject that nobody wants to talk about and it's a subject we need to talk about which is domestic violence, sexual abuse (and) incest," Havens said.

"The Shadows In My Heart" came out Sept. 25, in time for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. The book is about Havens' experiences, how she survived and what she did to survive. She was molested as a child and said there was other sexual abuse in her family.

"I hope people will get out of this the fact that there is hope, there's survival and that there are things you can do to not live the kind of life like this," said Havens, who will discuss her memoir in Hastings this month.

Havens began writing the book in 2012. She said that it was difficult for her to write because she was reliving everything that she had gone through. However, she said that she realized she had buried her emotions for so many years and she was finally able to start letting those emotions out.

In Havens' book, she discusses the chaos that was in her life and her reasoning for not leaving sooner. She said that she was trapped by her responsibilities and she wanted to protect her grandchildren.

"This book is not about my story or about a book being published, it is a message that I am sending in hopes that other people will be able to recognize if they're in a situation that they need to go and do something about," Haven's said.

Havens encourages someone in a similar position to look for a safe place to go. There are several options including law enforcement, social services, counselors and more.

360 Communities provides support through a network of five food shelves, two domestic violence shelters, two resource centers and three programs that support school success from birth through high school graduation. One of the domestic violence shelters, called the Lewis House, is located in Hastings. For more information about resources with 360 Communities, including the Lewis House visit

Havens will have a presentation and book signing at BreakAway Cafe at 6 p.m. Oct. 20.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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