One Survivor to Another: There are People Affected by Your Honesty and Amazing Courage

I received the following message to this website, Diary of a Predator, only yesterday. The television show the writer refers to is “On the Case with Paula Zahn,” which featured an episode on the case of serial rapist Brent Brents called “Beyond Redemption.” :

Name: Joni
Comment: Ms. Herdy

Since first seeing the “Beyond Redemption” television show and having seen it several times since then, I’m compelled to contact you in the hope you can advise me how to proceed.

I read on your blog how respectful you are of Brent Brent’s victims and I’m so impressed by that. The last thing I want to do is cause m0re pain for any of them. This is why I need your help.

There was an Hispanic woman who was a victim of Brents’ that bravely went on the show. One thing she said effected me greatly and that I’ve never been able to forget. She was describing her feelings after the assault, one of which was “I feel stupid.” Like so many others, I have an assault in my past and I never used “stupid” to name my feelings.

But as soon as I heard her say it, I connected with her so strongly. Her affect was very, very flat and I wondered if she’d had counseling. Even now I cry for her.

What I’d like her to know more than anything is that she was never stupid, never deserving of the assault and that I know that profoundly. I will always remember her and wish her well. However, I would never want to force this contact on her or be hurtful or thoughtless.

Can you tell me the best way to proceed? If there is no way to let her know this, I accept that. I just want her to know that there are people out there who she has affected with her honesty and amazing courage.

Thank you so much for your bravery as well. You’ve taken a lot of criticism for your association with Brents.


So I made a phone call, and then I wrote her back.

Dear Joni,

That was a very kind and thoughtful letter.

You are referring to Margaret, and I still stay in touch with her. And your letter was so touching that I immediately called her and asked if  she wanted to know what it said, and she said yes. So I read it to her.

She was very touched. She still has a lot of fear about talking to people she doesn’t know, so she wasn’t comfortable emailing you back, but she wanted me to give you this message:

“It was really nice of you to remember me after all this time. Sometimes I feel very disconnected, and your letter made me realize I’m not so alone.

What happened to me was awful, but along the way I’ve met a lot of nice people.”

As for my being brave, well, I truly think it’s folks like Margaret-and you–who take the time to connect with others who are the brave ones.

I don’t know if you’ve read the book, but I have a long section in there about Margaret, because she taught me a lot about forgiveness.

Thank you for writing.


Bearing witness to that compassionate exchange between those two amazing women helps reinforce my faith in humanity.

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