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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - As the wife of an Australian gangland boss, Roberta Williams found herself loathed, feared and sometimes admired for the power she wielded over society.
Now, in a newly-released memoir "My Life, The Untold Story of an Underworld Survivor," the often foul-mouthed Williams paints a different picture of the woman once married to Carl Williams, who is serving a minimum of 35 years in prison for ordering at least three murders.
"I want to give people an insight into my side of the story not just what they think from that stupid television show or what the media has portrayed me to be," Williams told Reuters.
With brutal honesty, Williams takes the reader on a journey from an early age when she slept rough on trains to dodge the regular beatings she faced at home; graduating to a life of hardship, a string of violent relationships and finally being surrounded with drug lords and gangland murders.
"I spent many years fighting my ground but as you get older you think about the consequences more, I've got too much to lose now," said Williams.
From a life of neglect and brutality she was happy to embrace an ostentatious lifestyle jetting around the world on shopping trips and buying luxury cars with her ex-husband.
Williams says she didn't think too much about where the money came from at that time. But now she admits crime doesn't pay.
"The joys in my days now are when I see the smile on my kids' faces when they see me waiting for them after school instead of worrying about going Louis Vuitton shopping.
She is no stranger to fear and retribution from underworld characters and once had to hide her children in a safe place in the house while her home was being shot at.
"Having the upbringing I've had I know how to survive and as a parent I had to think of the safety for my children and went into survival mode," Williams said.
Williams says her ex-husband didn't just go out and kill randomly.
"It was a situation of kill or be killed. Carl put himself into survival mode and he protected himself as best he knew," she said.
She's not easily shocked, but seeing her character played by actress Kat Stewart, in the Australian television series "Underbelly" portraying her parenting skills as neglectful was upsetting.
"To portray me as a drugged, skanked-out hoe who neglected her children really made me sick, cos that's not me! I love my kids and do the best I can for them," Williams said.
Aware that she has been ridiculed for earning money from her book, Williams says she did not sell the rights and will not directly make money from her story, she simply wants people to know where she came from and to give her a chance.
Reporting by Pauline Askin, Editing by Sugita Katyal