If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood, by Gregg Olsen
Review by Emilie18
Disturbing and heartrending, If You Tell is a survivor’s story of absolute evil at the hands of a psychopathic mother, Michelle “Shelly” Knotek —and the freedom and justice that her three daughters, Nikki, Sami, and Tori, risked their lives to fight for.
This book paints a vivid portrait of a narcissistic psychopath and goes into astonishing detail of how this woman operates and thinks, how she picks her victims, how she controls them and how she ultimately causes their demise. It may push more than a few buttons for Lovefraud readers, but it impressed me as being one of the most accurate descriptions of the type of sick people some of Lovefraud readers have dealt with. It honestly and vividly describes their methods and the results of their manipulations.
A true account told by sisters who suffered at the hands of their psychopathic mother and weak-willed and easily-influenced father/step-father, it is very hard to read – horrific to the extreme and graphically detailed; astonishing and almost unbelievable to those raised in loving households. However, for those who have lived through the gas-lighting, the intermittent reinforcement, and the cruelties of a manipulative, sadistic, conscience-less individual it is a must read, if only to know there IS a way to survive brutality this horrid.
The girls underwent different degrees of abuse, but all suffered horrendous “punishments”, “lessons” and “disciplines” at the random will of their mother and sometimes their father/stepfather at their mother’s insistence. Often they had no idea what they had done to warrant the beatings, or being made to do chores in their underwear, or having clothing and possessions disappear, or made to sleep in the chicken coop or not being allowed to use the bathroom, or having ice-cold water thrown on them, or made to wallow naked in the mud. The abuse, degradation and psychological terror was non-stop – yet there was no escape. The girls learned to hide the bruises, stay silent and never, never tell, just to survive. Eventually they witnessed their mother torture boarders to death and make their beloved cousin “disappear.” Even as they feared for their own safety and sanity and were drawn into their parent’s web of deceits, the girls found the strength to endure and eventually escape – and to finally tell their stories to officials, sadly, too late for the last two victims.
Their psychopathic mother was a master at manipulation and lies and knew just how to twist the truth, hide her crimes and blame others. No one outside the family ever caught on to what was actually happening in the little red farmhouse in Raymond, Washington. She picked her victims well, finding people down on their luck with little self-esteem and no strong family connection, brought them into the household under the guise of helping them get on their feet, then slowly upping the torment and torture, convincing them they deserved what they got, lying to those who were checking up on them, and making sure no one ever found out after they died.
This book is ultimately a tale of survival and resilience and the forever-bond of sisters who refused to stay victims to their psychopathic mother. But be warned — it may give you nightmares.
Published December 1, 2019 and available on Amazon.com