The Shadows in My Heart—by Mary A. Havens

How I met Oprah—

“I met Oprah because I told my truth,” says Mary Havens, a survivor and activist against domestic violence and sexual assault. After twenty years of being silenced, Mary has bravely told her story in the recently released memoir—The Shadows in My Heart.

The Shadows in My Heart offers strength and hope to the women and men who endure the struggles associated with domestic violence and abuse and reassures them that it is indeed possible to create a better life. Not only is Mary’s story a testament to that better life, it is irrefutable proof of the power of persistence, resilience, and love.

I had the honor of speaking to Mary after watching Oprah’s now famous Golden Globe speech #TimesUp. In her speech Oprah said, “A new day is on the horizon. And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women…and some pretty phenomenal men, (are) fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘me too’ again.”


When I asked Mary to offer her own words of wisdom she said, “If something is done to you, tell someone. If you meet resistance, find someone else who believes you. It takes an average of seven times to leave an abusive situation. Focus on the support around you. Trust your own intuition.”

Today Mary finds joy in front of a crowd inspiring others to speak their truth. I wish to thank Mary for being one of the many “magnificent women” that stand together, tells their truth, and say #TimesUp.

For more information on Mary Havens please click here. 

For more information on The Shadows in My Heart please click here. 

For more Brave Books please click here. 

Please join the conversation. If you have been inspired by a brave book, have words of wisdom to share, or a comment for Mary, we would love to hear from you. You never know who you might inspire or where it might lead.


  1. Another great read about an inspiring woman, Heidi – so wonderful to read about people turning terrible experiences into ways to help others.

    • Kim, I’m so glad to read your comment and know that her story inspired you. It continues to amaze me when someone talks of their history and then you learn how they rose above tragedies. An inspiration for many.

  2. Mary’s words are wise: tell someone. It sounds so simple, but it’s not that easy, especially when we’ve been conditioned to think we’re at least partly at fault.

    As for an inspiring book, I’m reading one even as we speak. It has yet to be published, though. 🙂

    • So true Lynda. It took me four decades to tell my story after being silenced at eleven years old. It does take courage, yet it when our voice emerges it can be so healing for ourselves and others. I’m glad you felt inspired by your latest manuscript. You do get some good ones!

    • Thank you Lynda, you are right, telling someone isn’t so easy as one thinks. Now that I have told my story, countless others are telling me, many for the first time their story. It isn’t always women telling their stories.

  3. Mary is a long time friend of mine and we were going to a support group both seeking recovery. I am so proud of her and I love this brave woman. Please believe the women who come to you and say they are being or have been abused. Believing her story validates her and helps her get the help she needs.

    • Standing with you Melinda. As a survivor of violent crime at age eleven, who felt silenced for four decades. I believe it takes incredible strength and courage to speak one’s truth. There are many reasons people refuse to believe a survivor, or ask, ‘why did it take so long?’ I take the approach to believe and support before doubting and judging. I agree, it’s so important to have validation. Thank you so much for your comment and welcome to our community. I hope you will consider reading and commenting on some of the other stories when you feel inspired. Heidi

    • Melinda, thank you for responding to this blog. Truly you have been a great friend and support. We must believe a story to validate what another has endured.

  4. Kim, thank you for your kind words. Already telling my story has helped others. I will continue spreading the truth; it is thanks to people like Heidi and many others that we all will make a difference.

  5. Mary, you are a true woman of substance and your book will give strength and support to so many others who have gone through such extreme circumstances. May God always be with you. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Deepti, thanks so much for your comment. I agree, Mary’s courage to speak her truth and share her story can support many others. When I first went to therapy twenty years ago for my trauma it was very hard to find anyone who shared their story publically. I felt so alone. I’m hopeful now that more people will speak out as Mary has done.

  6. Opening up about your story of abuse and trauma and working to inspire others in similar situations to seek out help is truly commendable. More power to Mary. Thanks for sharing her inspiring story, Heidi!

  7. When I initially commented I seem to have clicked
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    • So sorry this has happened Alphonso. In order to remove you I need either the name you used when you initially signed up, or the email you used. I have searched and searched trying the three emails and the name that came with this post, and am not finding you. If you let me know one of the above I will remove you. Again sorry for this challenge.

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