One of Ireland’s best known models has revealed the secret heartbreak behind her decision to write a book about domestic violence.
Monica Walsh, originally from near Krakow in Poland, but a long time resident of Clonee, told how when she was just 13 years old her godmother was brutally murdered by her husband in an unprovoked violent attack that saw the couples children discover their dead mother’s body.
And she disclosed the emotional words of her then six year old nephew at his mothers funeral which she says will be ingrained in her mind forever.
She also told of how two superstars of the music business, La Toya and Jermaine Jackson, opened up to her about the abuse they received from their parents and revealed how she lied to bosses at her place of work as she was too ashamed to admit a violent boyfriend had shoved her to the ground.
Monica,(39), and mum to thirteen year old Dylan, has just launched, the memoir, ‘Take Me Out Of This Hell’, aimed at victims of domestic abuse.
She revealed, ‘I was just a kid, a teenager, when it happened, my godmother Kalina Ceqtq was killed by her husband he beat her against a radiator and left her to die, her kids were there and were with their Mums body when the police arrived.
‘I only found this out when I was an adult nobody told me at the time, but I clearly recall my little nephew Btozej asking as him mother was lowered into her gave, ‘Where are they putting my Mammy’, those words will stay with me forever.
‘The other thing that haunts me is the what if question that people always have, in this case when he beat her up he ran from the scene he never looked for assistance for her so I keep thinking what if he had phoned an ambulance, would she still, be alive.
‘Her killer for life imprisonment and died in jail a few years back.
‘As I got older I started to ask myself why did nobody help her, surely somebody must have known something, was there no shelter she could have gone to, I had so many questions, I probably still have actually.’
When she arrived in Ireland Monica began modelling with the Andrea Roche agency, and then married and had a child, something which led to her interest in domestic violence being sparked again.
But not before she had her own encounter with an abusive partner.
‘When I was 21 the boyfriend I had back then shoved me to the ground and even though I hurt my head and arm pretty badly my first thought was what do I say to work.
‘I knew I was going to have to call in sick and I was too embarrassed to tell them the truth about what happened, I was thinking they would feel I was stupid for choosing a partner like that so I lied and told them I fell down the stairs.
‘I had enough sense to walk away from that relationship though but many women, and indeed men, feel they can’t leave.
‘Abusers can be very manipulative and can make their victims believe they cannot survive on their own, also there is a fear of having to start over, having to find a new place to stay, find a job, filling in the social welfare forms all that can play on the victims mind and persuade them to stay where they are.
‘In 2015 I became Mrs Ireland, and represented us in Mrs World, a Miss World competition for married women.
‘It was held in China and one of the charitable organisations linked to the competition was a domestic violence group, there was a lot of media interest in the pageant so I decided to speak out about what had happened my godmother and from that a lot of women got in touch with me about their own experiences.
‘At first, I found it strange but when I asked them why they didn’t ring a women’s aid group they told me that they had seen my photo and found it easier to talk to someone when they could put a face to the name rather than an anonymous person on the end of a phone line.
‘It kind of snowballed after the competition so I decided if I am going to do something to help I might as well make use of the contacts I made at the event and for the book I have contacted all the other Mrs World entrants from that time and they have all invited me to their country and introduced me to victims of abuse there and to those who try and help them.
‘The woman who won it was Mrs South Africa and I still have to visit her which is something I am looking forward to as she told me she has giraffes grazing at the end of her garden which will be amazing to see.
‘This type of violence can affect any family, when I was modelling I was invited to the Cannes film festival and ended up chatting to La Toya and Jermaine Jackson at a dinner, when they found out I was writing this book they told me how they had suffered at the hands of their dad Joe.
‘La Toya said that when she told her mother what was happening she was told ‘Daddy is sick’,
The book called, launched on Friday, (MARCH 31ST), includes stories of Monica’s hands on experience of dealing with domestic violence situations.
She said, ‘Two years ago on Christmas Eve a Brazilian woman got in touch with me, she had been beaten by her boyfriend and thrown out on the street, all the refuges were full so I took her home with me and out her up for a few days.
‘I felt the least I could do was ensure she had a good Christmas so she shared the turkey and pudding with myself and Dylan then I contacted a priest who allowed her to sleep in a chapel for a few nights before he found her somewhere to go.
‘Another time I was staying in a friends apartment in Belfast and could hear a woman screaming next door, so I started banging on the wall and shouting in to see if she was okay.
‘When the shouting got louder I ran round and started knocking on the front door, the postman then arrived and called the police, he told me it wasn’t the first time he had to do that for her.
‘The woman came to the door and said she was okay but everything about her body language told me she wasn’t, when the police arrived we left them to it.’
Monica now works as a Montessori teacher and says that people in that line of work can often be the first to spot a domestic violence issue.
‘As a teacher, you have to have your eyes open all the time, if a child’s behaviour veers off course you have to notice, if say a child who always does their homework suddenly stops I ask myself why and try and find out if there is something troubling them at home.
‘I have been working on the book for a number of years, my Mum passed away in 2017 and that stopped me in my tracks, and with teaching and modelling time was at a premium so when lockdown arrived it allowed me to concentrate on writing.
‘It’s funny really there was a few times I wanted to shelve the project and out of the blue I would get another email asking if I could help someone so a lot of people have been the inspiration for the book, I just hope it helps people who may think they are in a situation with no way out.
They need to remember there is always somebody out there willing and able to help you can always walk out the same door you came in.
‘It can be the hardest thing to do but the correct thing to do is leave because while the first time might be bad believe me it can and often does get a lot worse.’