Athens Review, Athens, Texas

August 23, 2013

A poignant story to tell

GBC mother of ‘America’s Got Talent’ winner addresses family abuse

Kathi Nailling
The Athens Review

ATHENS — Marie Fator Sligh had a hidden secret.

The one-time realtor with Johnson Monroe Realty in Gun Barrel City and the mother of former “America’s Got Talent” winner Terry Fator has written a poignant book called “Keeping Laughter Alive.”

Sligh was at the Women Council of Realtors monthly meeting on Wednesday for a book-signing.

“Keep Laughter Alive” took her five years to complete. She began writing the book after her son won the first season of America’s Got Talent in 2007.   

In the book she tells a story about a cycle of domestic abuse and how her mother was abused by her father and about how her husband continued the abuse. Her father, who abused her mother, also came from an abusive home. Sligh’s husband was also raised by abusive parents.  She divorced her husband in 1994.

In her book, Sligh explains how domestic abuse continues for generations until someone has enough courage to end the cycle.

Sligh said the book title comes from her determination for her and her children to live life happy, despite the abuse they were all suffering at the hands of her husband. It took Marie 32 years to get out of an abuse situation. She is not sure why it took so long, other than she thought her ex-husband would kill her and her children if they parted. Or perhaps it was just fear. 

“You can be brainwashed and not know it,” she said. “No one knows what goes on behind closed doors.”

Marie told the members of WCR to rise above the difficulties in life by keeping their spirit alive. She said recognizing the early signs of abuse is empowering. It seldom starts out with violence, but gradually escalates.

In her book she says, “Abusers always know the right thing to say or do to make you feel sorry for them.

“They will stop at nothing, when exposed to deflect the attention from themselves and onto the victim or victims,” she said.

Marie said the story was difficult to write and more difficult to live, but she is blessed to have been able to overcome it. “Keeping Laughter Alive” recently won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award  in the Memoir/Autobiogr-aphy category.

From first-hand experience, Marie knows what it is like to be trapped in an abusive situation, because of her experiences. To help other women, she has started a group called Hope for Brighter Days (HFBD).  Marie says HFBD is committed to helping those affected by abuse realize their dream of a rewarding future and freedom.

For more information on HFBD, visit the website at or e-mail

Marie Fator Sligh's book, “Keeping Laughter Alive,” can be order from her website at www.mariefator.-com.