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assault agony Irish model Monica Walsh reveals family tragedy inspired her to write about domestic violence

Monica's godmother was murdered by her husband and, in a harrowing twist, her body was later discovered by the couple's children

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Monica Walsh.

Monica Walsh.

Monica Walsh representing Ireland.

Monica Walsh representing Ireland.

Monica Walsh launching the campaign.

Monica Walsh launching the campaign.

Monica Walsh as Mrs Ireland

Monica Walsh as Mrs Ireland

Beauty queen Monica Walsh’s new book will help women abused at home.

Beauty queen Monica Walsh’s new book will help women abused at home.

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Monica Walsh.

One of Ireland's top models has revealed the secret heartbreak behind her decision to write a book about the agony of domestic violence.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday World, Monica Walsh told how her family suffered the vicious reality of such attacks when she was just 13 years old.

Her godmother was brutally murdered by her husband in an unprovoked attack and, in a harrowing twist, her body was later discovered by the couple's children.

And Monica says the emotional words of her then six-year-old nephew at his mother's funeral 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.

Monica, originally from a village near Krakow in ­Poland, said: "I was just a kid, a teenager, when it ­happened. My godmother Kalina Cegla was killed by her husband.

"He beat her against a radiator and left her to die. Her kids were there and were with their mum's body when the police arrived."

Now in her mid-thirties and mother to 11-year-old Dylan, she said: "I only found this out when I was an adult. Nobody told me at the time, but I clearly recall my little nephew, Blazej, asking as his 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?

"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 before she got married and had a child.

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Monica Walsh representing Ireland.

Monica Walsh representing Ireland.

Monica Walsh representing Ireland.

"In 2015, I became Mrs Ireland and represented us in Mrs World, a Miss World competition for married women," she explained.

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"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 me, 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 women's aid groups 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 the competition 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."

The book called Take Me Out Of This Hell will be launched later this year and will include stories of Monica's hands-on experience of dealing with a domestic violence situation.

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Monica Walsh launching the campaign.

Monica Walsh launching the campaign.

Monica Walsh launching the campaign.

She the Sunday World: "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 put 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 sleep in a chapel for a few nights before he found her somewhere to go."

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 the lockdown arrived it allowed me to concentrate on writing," she said.

"It's funny really, there were 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, and you can always walk out the same door you came in."

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