Cumbalum woman Marylin Schirmer tells of her triumph in escaping a life filled with violence.
Cumbalum woman Marylin Schirmer tells of her triumph in escaping a life filled with violence. Graham Broadhead

Maz did it and so can others

CUMBALUM woman Marylin Schirmer is telling her tragic story of a life filled with violence, to give others in similar situations hope that they can turn their lives around as she has done.

Marylin - who refers to herself as Maz - has written the 188-page book, The MAZ Factor, which also outlines strategies she used.

Her "old life" in North Queensland began with generational childhood sexual abuse and became more tragic with bashings and rape - including at gunpoint six times.

She said the violence inflicted on her over 33 years eventually meant she was considered too high a risk to be taken into women's shelters, and she lived with her four children hiding in caravan parks.

The stress took a toll on her health and emotional well-being.

She said she had little self-confidence or self-respect and continually attracted violent men.

It was after the now 48-year-old turned 33 that things changed.

She had blacked out in a telephone booth - later to learn that she had suffered an epileptic fit brought on by the stress in her life.

Sitting on the floor of the phone booth, she looked out at her four children sitting in her car.

"I thought 'these children don't have anybody if I die'," she said.

She said to herself: "This is it - turn your life around".

"But I didn't know how to be confident."

She said she spent time in shopping centres watching other women - how they dressed and how they held themselves physically - and copied them to gain confidence.

Then without qualifications or skills, she set out to find a job.

It was six months before an opportunity came up - and in the meantime, she said her children provided the motivation to keep going, despite setbacks.

She got a job as a direct sales consultant in a women-only company and within six months began to be quite successful.

And she had to learn to deal with the respect she was being shown by her colleagues - ethics, praise, recognition were all new to her.

"I began respecting myself and then I saw that good people were everywhere," she said.

She began sharing pieces of her personal story with colleagues and learned many had similar pasts.

After reaching a level in her work where she was training thousands of women internationally and using her story to inspire others, she decided to tell her full story to give hope to other women.

It costs $29.95 and $3 for postage from

Maz is looking to donate to a local charity supporting women and is available for public speaking.

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