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The story of my Mother is one I need to tell, to reclaim. I am my Mother’s daughter. I have been told I have my Mother’s eyes and that when I was younger I strongly resembled her, though of course I’ve now outlived her by thirteen years. The wound of not having a mum has seeped into every aspect of my life. Sometimes the black hole she left behind vacuums me into its void, and the density of how she left us weighs heavily on my chest and shoulders, making it difficult to breathe.

Everyone has a story. This is mine. And hers. Our story.

You might have heard the story of my Mum, Lynette Joy Simms aka Dawson, or a version of it anyway. Part of her story has been written and reported about in the media, featured in the podcast The Teacher’s Pet, on the television program 60 Minutes, and investigated by the police. The story has been the basis of two coronial inquests, and a 2022 trial the New South Wales Supreme Court where my father, Chris Dawson, was eventually found guilty of murdering my Mother and was sentenced to twenty-four years in prison.

The verdict came forty years, four months and one day after my Mum disappeared. My beautiful Mother left our lives on the 8th of January 1982. My younger sister, Sherry, was two and I was four. We grew up believing our Mum abandoned us. At the core of my being, I believe I’ve always known the truth of her disappearance, but it’s taken many years of peeling back the lies and deceptive programming to come to see the tragic reality, the nightmare that lay at the foundation of my world, when life should have been kind, safe and carefree.

In these pages, I’ve capitalised Mum and Mother as a sign of respect. I haven’t done the same for dad and father.

Some of you may find portions of this book completely unbelievable, unlike anything you’ve ever personally experienced … And some may find my journey tame compared to what you’ve lived to tell. My hope is that by sharing my story and by reaching out from my heart to yours, I may offer support, and encourage or inspire your own journey of life in some way.

Many of these pages are excerpts from my journals over the years, as well as dreams. I’ve been journalling from a young age and writing my dreams down since I was nineteen, always seeking messages from Spirit or, in later years, clues from my subconscious about what happened to my Mother. I have had a lot of spiritual, ghost and otherworldly experiences throughout my life. These have been integral in defining who I am and how I perceive the world.

In these pages, I have shared entries of my internal struggle to try to comprehend the tragedy, raw and uncensored. Please don’t judge me; have compassion and remember we’re all just doing the best we can. My world has also been a beautiful tapestry of amazing people and life experiences, but woven through these moments in time has always been an underlying, compressed devastation just waiting for its time to be remembered, felt … and to be integrated back into its rightful place on my internal timeline.

It is my hope that by sharing this story, the lies told as truth may come out from their hiding place and that my Mother’s life may be reclaimed from undeserved shame, to be honoured and cherished. Although we can’t bring her back, we can try to save others from her fate. It is my hope that our tragedy might be a nudge to others in her situation, to recognise the red flags of domestic abuse and to know that we all deserve to have kindness and mutual respect in our relationships. I want you all to exist/exit safely; may that be my Mum’s legacy.

May all wounds find the support they need to heal. May we get to the root of the problem and prevent the majority of this damage occurring in the first place. May we create systems in our society that support the healing of this epidemic of violence, in particular in what is supposed to be a sacred union. May the people who are harming also have the courage to ask for help and may it exist, thereby breaking the cycles of abuse. May the people who see harm speak up or offer support before it’s too late. Domestic violence exists in a world where we turn a blind eye or don’t know how to help, where we avoid asking the hard questions and pretend not to notice when a Mum-of-two vanishes into thin air. Or we shake our heads in momentary disgust as yet another fatality from domestic violence is reported on the news and yet we fail to do anything to change it. It’s hard to know where to start. Abuse hides in the shadows, and it festers in silence. This desperately needs to change.

In breaking my silence, and by reaching out from my heart to yours, I hope you might feel less alone in your journey.

I write and dedicate this book to all of the people in the world who have known trauma and tragic heartbreak, in particular at the hands of someone they love. May our destructive pain find creative outlets to be transformed. May our nightmares find healing channels that bring to others, good medicine. May we all choose to act from a place of kindness as much as humanly possible. May all of the people who are selfishly destroying our planet, because of greed and misguided power, come to remember connection to Source, to the beauty of nature, hence to each other and themselves.

These are my memories, in truth as I remember them. Some names and details have been withheld or changed to protect privacy and to prevent litigation against me.

I write this book to honour my Mum and her life, taken from us for such selfish reasons, I can’t even comprehend. I write this for my dear Nanna Simms who showed me love and integrity. And for my beautiful daughter, nieces and nephew and for the loving grandmother they will never know.

  • My Mother's Eyes - Shanelle Dawson

    The disappearance of Lyn Dawson captured the world's attention. But she was far more than just the teacher's wife. Now, in this brave, emotionally powerful memoir, Lyn's daughter reclaims their story.

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