I can’t recall the first time I heard of Susan Murphy Milano. I know it was in the first few months after the disappearance of Stacy Peterson and the re-examination of the events surrounding what was initially ruled the accidental death of Kathleen Savio.
Most likely it was a post on her blog that came up during a search for information, or maybe someone left a link to a podcast of the show Justice Interrupted hosted by Susan, Stacy Dittrich and Robin Sax. Whatever the case, I was immediately struck by her passion, her energy and her fearlessness when it came to discussion of not only the anti-hero Drew Peterson, but the system and the players who had failed his two wives and especially Kathleen Savio.
Even after run-ins with Drew Peterson’s lawyer, Joel Brodsky, Susan still spoke her mind about the case with a sharpness and sense of humor that showed everyone that she was not the kind of person who could be easily intimidated.
This summer I was very sad to learn that Susan Murphy Milano was diagnosed with stage four multi-organ cancer. This month she made the decision to suspend treatment and allow the natural course of events to take place as they will.
This decision coincides with the release of her latest book, Holding My Hand Through Hell, which is Susan’s autobiography and a fitting swan song to her life as a tireless champion of the abused.
Susan’s story begins in a middle-class home in Chicago, presided over by her alcoholic police officer father, whose horrific abuse of the family is told with Susan’s typical candor. The helplessness she felt when law enforcement would look the other way out of “professional courtesy” will strike a chord with anyone who has been following the Peterson cases.
The eventual murder/suicide of her parents started Susan on a crusade to aid and empower victims of abuse – an effort that touched the lives of many women and gave Susan a measure of celebrity but which also took a toll on her private life, straining relationships with those closest to her and even alienating her son.
Susan takes you along with her as she experiences her hopes, her victories and her disappointments, the struggle to trust and love after growing up in a violently dysfunctional family, and the relentless drive to help others even when her own life has been shattered and then pieced back together and held in place by the barest of support.
The following HTML tags are allowed:
<a href=""> <abbr> <acronym> <b> <blockquote> <cite> <pre> <em> <i> <q> <strike> <strong>