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Burning the Vines
‘Even if it’s true, no one will believe you.’
This bleak appraisal was the response a young Michelle Mazal received when she first tried to tell her story to a relative. She, her three sisters and her mother lived for years under the shadow of her father’s drunken violence and random sadism. All these years later, Mazal, a tough and compassionate survivor, is telling her story again; this time someone must listen.
In her powerful and evocative memoir, Mazal pieces together fragments of a life that convey both a child’s love for her father and an adult’s understanding of domestic violence. Memories of playing with her sisters, getting her teeth pulled out and riding her much-loved horses are undercut by moments of daily, normalised horror. Mazal captures the complexities of her dysfunctional family in an honest, open-hearted and insightful way. She knows, none better, that feelings of love, hate, security and fear nestle more closely together than we would like to acknowledge, and that the people we love can sometimes be the ones who hurt us the most.
Michelle Mazal lived her early years in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia before moving to acreage in the Swan Valley. Leaving school at 15 years of age meant a return to study in later life. In her mid 30’s with two young children she returned to school and completed mature age TEE. This was followed by an offer in university and ended with Michelle completing back to back degrees. On the completion of these degree's Michelle has worked as a Social Worker for the past 15 years and has also completed another university qualification during this time.
Michelle originally began to write BURNING THE VINES as a way of finding closure on a past that too often coloured her perception of herself and her worth. But while there is only so much one individual can do, Michelle views her story as an opportunity to provide some awareness of family and domestic violence through her own experience as a child witness, in the hope that in this small way she may contribute to ending the violence against women.