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Suzette Shanle Transforms Her Biggest Hurts Into Inspiring Creations

Carrying a life trauma from childhood to adulthood has its downsides for most people. Quite often, those who do not find a way to process their hurts live with an emotional limp for the most part of their lives until they have an emotional encounter where they can release forgiveness to the people who harmed them. Domestic violence survivor Suzette Shanle went through unthinkable experiences as a young girl in the hands of their father. Fortunately, she found a way to rise above her greatest pains to create inspiring designs that speak volumes of her tenacity and resilience. 

Shanle is the author of the book “Suzette’s Daddy Issues: A Memoir of Violence and Hope,” which narrates her harrowing experience with her mother’s husband, Richard, who was a convicted felon and lifelong criminal. Unfortunately, the man Shanle initially considered her hero for saving her mother when an old flame stabbed her would soon become the family’s nemesis. His ties with the mob got the family on the run, moving to multiple places until finally settling in Clearwater, Florida. Although he kept them safe from the mob and his past crimes, he ruled with an iron fist and was abusive. 

Shanle found herself in a very precarious and dangerous scenario, as the family feared Richard due to his threats and history of killing. She quickly realized she needed to learn to stay strong and fight back, find her voice and experience genuine love in the midst of violence. Throughout her ordeal with her mother’s husband, Shanle found the courage to remain steadfast and pure of heart, attributes that brought her to where she is today. 

As she matured, Shanle’s creativity blossomed, and she became a painter, photographer, and fashion designer, on top of being an author. Due to a head injury she had gotten as a young girl, her perception has always been off. Her instructors would correct her, but she noticed that what others perceived as off was actually the same thing that made her creations extremely distinct and unique. 

“For years beating myself up trying to keep my ducks in a row and making my art in a form that was unnatural to me. Compared to my work, now I am free to be me and embrace my flaws and celebrate my unique qualities. I feel with age, I have become less concerned with pleasing others and just being me. Flaws and all,” Shanle shared. “I can celebrate life and art as it’s all the same to me. Whether it’s my photography, paintings, clothing design, including the books I write, I always hope my work is appreciated for its originality, and that to me is what sets me apart from other artists,” she added.

Despite her unideal past, Shanle has managed to build a beautiful life for herself and her family. She is married to a third-generation farmer, and they have two daughters and a son together. Apart from her art, Shanle is also a successful hair stylist who spent 30 years in the business. She is also a committed and inspiring entrepreneur and pageant winner. 

Her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in when she was in her early twenties after discovering she had a natural gift for marketing. She used her gift as an artist to create flyers and business cards. She was later convinced that her success in this area was mainly due to her personable character. Thanks to her parents’ support, she succeeded early on and confidently braved the succeeding seasons of her life. She once tried working as an employee but also realized shortly after that she could achieve more if she owned her own time. 

Thanks to Shanle and her powerful story of survival and hope, a lot of people are learning from it. As she continues to be a living example of hope and resilience, she only prays that others who went through trauma will find a way to overcome it. 

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