Clara was taught from an early age to keep her mouth shut, to keep the peace and to know her place.
"In my world, my place was always subservient to the patriarch. I lived by the rules of my father, my brother, the Parish Priest, my husband and the rich landholders," Clara said.
"I silenced my voice. I suffocated my truth. I lost my power. I allowed myself to be disempowered by others."
Clara is the main character in Bernadette O'Connor's new book, Beneath The Veil.
Bernadette, of Hamilton South, said the story was set in a Catholic village in rural Ireland in the 1940s. She described it as a "small, close-knit God-fearing community where reputation, appearance and patriarchal rule is everything".
The book reflects the themes of #MeToo and abuse in the church.
Bernadette has an understanding of religious control and the patriarchal system that suppresses women.
"I was brought up as a good little Catholic girl. I actually made my first communion in Ireland when we went over as kids in 1983. I remember sitting in the church in the pure white dress and being overwhelmed because my uncle was really strict. He represented that world of suppression and what the man says is the way," she said.
The book, she said, touches on that "misuse of the clergy and how it was overlooked by so many".
"They all knew what was going on," she said.
The book is also about "suppression of femininity".
"In Beneath the Veil, Clara is taught from day dot not to speak up, that she’s not allowed to be heard, that her voice has to be suppressed, what good girls do and good women do is put up and shut up, don’t cause trouble. That’s programmed into a lot of women.
"There’s a change happening, but those programs exist within all women because we’re programmed by our ancestors."
She said the idea still exists that women must be "dominated by the man of the house".
"Whilst we try and say, 'my place in the world is important and I’m allowed to have a voice', there’s part of us that’s going, 'no, I’m not allowed to have a voice'," she said.
She said the emergence of the #MeToo movement in Hollywood involved "seemingly empowered women who were keeping their mouth shut because they knew that if they spoke up, they were going to get punished".
"That’s why we’ve got to change that, rise up and have a voice," she said.
She said the book focused on the idea that women can have a #MeToo story, but "what happens is people attach to the story and say 'me too, me too'.
"Then they become a victim to their story. The story holds them in that space of being angry and bitter and resentful."
Bernadette's book was partly inspired by her work as a kinesiologist, in which she works with people to release toxic emotions.
"I see it all the time. I have clients in my treatment room who may have been separated from an abusive partner for 10 years and yet he still has control over them because they’re so gripped by bitterness and resentment," she said.
"When we release all of that, we come into a place of compassion and forgiveness. It’s tough, but this is the work I do with people. It's to bring them into that place of opening their heart to compassion and forgiveness. That is when you truly reclaim your power.
"I work with them to release this pain, so they can free themselves from him. While you’re still angry and can’t forgive him, he still has control over you."
She said emotions were "just a vibration".
"The vibration of anger, for example, is attached to a memory – but that vibration is altering your state of being. It’s taking you out of being in a place of calm, peace and love.
"You go into those memories and, using different techniques, you can alter the vibration of the memory of that emotion."
Energy can be released, she said.
"Like if you’re feeling frustrated, you might go for a run. Some people go dancing or sing or scream. When a toddler is feeling frustrated, they throw themselves on the ground and kick and scream. They’re releasing the emotional energy. Then they’re cool as a cucumber. We look at them and say, 'how did they do that?'.
"As adults, we've lost our ability to release our emotions because we suppress them. When we suppress them, we hold onto them. That’s what makes us depressed, angry, bitter, exhausted. There are techniques to start shifting that energy."
Which takes us back to her book and the subject of women and suppression.
"That energy of anger or irritation or rage, held within the body, does manifest eventually as physical dysfunction," she said.
She said the story of her character Clara was "not just the story of my Irish-Catholic ancestors – it's the story of all women".