On July 5th, 1990, Stacey Lannert shot and killed her father who had been abusing her sexually since she was 7. Missouri state law, a disbelieving prosecutor, and Stacey’s own fragile psyche conspired against her: she was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Redemption is Stacey’s candid memoir of what happened after she found herself in prison for life. It is an extraordinary account of Stacey’s will to live a positive-even triumphant- life, and ultimately, the healing power of forgiveness.
After spending as many years in prison as she had out of it, on January 10th, 2009 outgoing Missouri governor, Matt Blunt, commuted Stacey’s life sentence. Six days later, she walked out of the prison gates a free woman. Redemption is the story of how Stacey became a free woman while still inside those gates.
Redemption starts out with an idyllic family. A family that sounds too good to be true. Stacey is born as a blond, blue-eyed baby with a kewpie doll curl. We have Stacey remembering photo albums filled with family pictures of bright smiling faces, a mother and daughter sporting matching outfits that Deborah sewed herself, a father who sits her on his lap, shares his popcorn and is truly interested in how her day went, a grandma that sneaks them sugared cereal (which isn’t allowed at home) and boat rides on family vacations.
But then things start to go horribly wrong. Dad starts arriving home drunk every night, angry and abusive. Soon, sitting on his lap, father-daughter time turns into something altogether different. Something scary and ugly. At the age of seven, Stacey’s sexual abuse begins. It’s occasional and she’s able, at first, to separate the daddy she loves from Tom, the drunk sexual abuser. She withdraws into herself and blocks out the disturbing acts that are starting to happen more frequently to her.
Around this same time her mother starts to distance herself from her family, more interested in school and a career then paying attention to what’s happening at home. Soon Deborah and Tom are divorced and Stacey’s mom is not there for her when she ‘s needed the most.
Stacey’s dad becomes the one constant in her life. When he’s not drunk and he’s the kind, sweet father and not Tom, she can count on him. But when he’s drunk…
Stacey is tired of the abuse and wants it to stop. She scrunches up the nerve to tell a few people that her daddy is “hurting” her. Rape is not a word she knows yet. But no one believes her. No one. After too many years of shame and abuse, neglect and hurt, Stacey picks up a gun and shoots her father. Unbelievably, her prison sentence is life-without parole.
Stacey’s story is a heartbreaking one. I was sickened by the abuse that the child Stacey suffered. How could nobody believe her when all the signs were there? But now, Stacey’s trying to change that. She’s speaking out across the country in school and college campuses, through magazine articles and TV talk shows. She’s made it her life mission to convince other victims of sexual abuse to tell someone what is happening and to keep telling until they find someone who believes them and will help them. Stacey also runs a non-profit website called Healing Sisters with the goal of eradicating sexual abuse.
If you suspect someone is being sexually abused, talk to them and let them know you are there for them. And if someone tells you they are being sexually molested BELIEVE THEM and get them help. One in four girls are sexually molested in the United States today, a statistic that makes me shudder. Don’t let these girls down. 3/5 stars
Thank you to Crown Publishers for providing me with a copy of this book.