Thursday, October 1, 2020 4:00 AM
Noblesville’s Michelle Corrao has written her autobiography entitled, “Found, Triumph Over Fear with Grace and Gratitude: The Michelle Corrao story,” her true story of being violently abducted and left for dead in the trunk of her car. The ebook is released today, with a print edition, which comes out Feb. 9, available now for pre-order.
Michelle Corrao’s new book, entitled, “Found,” is released today as an e-book and in February in print.
Michelle Corrao poses with her family, including husband, Chris; and two children, Olivia, 16, and Christian, 20. Corrao released a book.
What: Noblesville’s Michelle Corrao has written her first book, entitled, “Found — Triumph Over Fear with Grace and Gratitude: The Michelle Corrao Story,” her true story of being sexually abducted and left for dead in the trunk of her car.
When: Ebook released Oct. 1. Book launch in print is Feb. 9, 2021, 180 pages.
Reserve a print edition: Pre-order online through amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, indiebound.org, booksamillion.com, bookshop.org
It’s been 24 years since Michelle Corrao was violently abducted by three men and left for dead in the trunk of her own car.
Thankfully, she was found by an off-duty police detective. Her abduction, which took place in Fort Wayne, was the final crime in a string of assaults on women in Central Indiana in 1996. Her three assailants are still serving time in prison.
For Corrao, life would never be the same.
Since then, she has shared the graphic details over and over to help victims everywhere.
Now, the Noblesville woman shares her story in an autobiography entitled, “Found — Triumph Over Fear with Grace and Gratitude: The Michelle Corrao Story,” released today as an eBook. The book launch and release of the print edition will be Feb. 9 with pre-orders now being accepted.
“I really didn’t believe that writing a book was possible, and here I am,” said Corrao.
“I hope that book will inspire others to believe in themselves and know that anything is possible for them as well. I say that my book goes deep. It was hard to write because, if I don’t share some of the graphic details, then how do we expect others to be vulnerable?”
She gets a question all of the time: “When did you share your story with your kids?” Corrao actually shared her story just as soon as her kids were old enough to understand segments of it.
Her husband, Chris, and children, Olivia, now 16 (then 6), and Christian, now 20 (then 10) traveled with her to Washington, D.C., in 2010, to the National Crime Victims Service Awards Ceremony, where Corrao walked across the stage to accept the Special Courage Award, the first in Indiana to be honored. The award recognized her efforts to share her message and inspire others to not live as victims. Her family met the police officer who saved Corrao’s life, and her children had lots of questions for their mom. And she tried to answer all of them.
“If we aren’t talking to our kids and sharing with our kids and being vulnerable, how do we expect them to talk to us?” she said.
Corrao is a compelling public speaker and compassionate advocate for victims of violent crimes. The wife and mother is currently the executive director of The O’Connor House for single, pregnant, homeless women in Carmel.
In November, she resigned from Prevail, a 36-year-old victim’s assistance program in Noblesville where she had been employed for 18 years — first as community development officer then as assistant director. Being at Prevail gave her the opportunity to help a lot of people and use her gifts and talents to connect with people. She was on the team to help create the state’s first Sexual Assault Response Team, focused on victim-centered, trauma-informed care.
Corrao, when she started the speaker’s bureau at Prevail, remembers hearing some of the speakers say to her, “It’s kind of scary speaking out,” she said.
“But the acceptance that you get is unbelievable,” Corrao found. “That’s what lit a fire under me.”
She wrote the book for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons is “that others might understand what is possible.”
Corrao said, “I think this book is much more outreach for more than sexual assault victims … Healing is possible in every circumstance you’re in. We may not believe it. It’s about using those dark times… to get to the light.” Being that we don’t walk in each other’s shoes, it was difficult for others to understand what she was experiencing.
“For years, I tried to get people to understand but then finally realized they could not possibly understand.”
She’s been on this journey of writing a book for about 12 years. “I knew that I wanted to write a book …. And it’s always been in my heart, because that’s what helped me survive. I read a book from the library, I felt so alone and isolated….”
She said, “I wanted to be that book that I read that maybe would inspire somebody along the way.”
So Corrao wrote her book. But she wasn’t content with it. Then she happened on to Emily Sutherland, of Fishers, a career writer, who encouraged Corrao and spent last year with Corrao, writing, rewriting and massaging Corrao’s words into the story that was released today. “Now, I feel really comfortable where it is. Emily Sutherland was just what I needed,” Corrao said. “The two of us synced. Within a year, my book was written. And we submitted it.” Another acquaintance, marketing specialist Jennifer Robbins connected Corrao with Morgan James Publishing, and said, “Let’s go for it.” So Corrao put some copy together and submitted it to the publisher. Then on Sept 12, 2019, the 23rd anniversary of being “found” in her car’s trunk, she was presented with the acceptance letter from the publisher.
“I really have a lot of respect for people who write books, especially on their own journeys and what it takes, the heart, the soul, the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to do it,” Corrao said.
About 12 years ago, before starting to write the book, Corrao spoke at Manchester College, and afterward spent two hours talking to people who had experiences of sexual assault, including an elderly lady sharing for the first time.
Corrao felt sad that victims keep their stories bottled up inside of them. “It’s so healing to be able to talk about it and to have somebody really believe you, respect where you are. But it’s also scary. For me, ‘it was being vulnerable’ and ‘What are people going to think about me?’ and ‘Are they going to look at me differently?’ And ‘is that going to make me look weak?’”
Corrao talks a lot about kindness and how kindness makes a difference.
Her book not only is about her abduction, but she talks about her love story, how her husband, whom she was dating at the time of the abduction, really loved her, and how she was trying to push him away, and he wasn’t going to give in to that. “He was going to love me anyway.” The book is also about gratitude, she said. “It’s about grace, gratitude, fear, and a love story, all of those things combined in one story. And in the end, it’s about love.”
She has told her story so many times…. When she was remembering and writing her story, she returned to Fort Wayne, to the police department, to look at the police report from that night. “This gave me another opportunity to visit crime-scene photos and my journals and what I wrote,” said Corrao, who also viewed the assailants’ video statements. “Writing the book helped me dig even deeper.”
She visited her old residence, “to remember and to heal.” Corrao recalled that night, on Sept. 12, 1996, when she was knocked down on her front porch and abducted just inside of her front door. She had been followed home after teaching classes at the YMCA, where she had worked for years. She noticed, while driving home, the males, who had earlier been at the YMCA playing basketball, were walking down her street, so she drove around the block, taking every safety measure, and didn’t see them anymore. But they were in her backyard waiting.
After she was found in the trunk, which was when the nightmare started of talking to police, telling her story over and over and more.
Her family wanted her back, “and that was just never going to be possible. As much as I tried to get the old me back I had to realize that was never going to be possible.”
Today, she watches out for the safety of her family. But she also lives every day to the fullest. “We don’t know what our last day is. And trust me, I was probably as close to my last day in the trunk of my car.”
She wants other victims to know that there is hope.
Now it’s become even broader, and being kind to others and how much that makes a difference, and how you can change somebody’s life by smiling. … Somebody being nice turns my day around.”
-Contact Betsy Reason at email@example.com.
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Thursday, October 1, 2020