More from the deputy who knew Brents in jail: “the malice and instability that resided within him was so think it was nearly tangible”

It’s interesting to me that any time I think of Brents, the first thing that comes to mind is how he carried himself. He always hunched over, shoulders always curled in. He always tried to minimize himself and make himself appear non-threatening. My thoughts were always along the line of, “you’re not fooling anyone,” the malice and instability that resided within him was so thick it was nearly tangible.  I don’t know if it was a conscious decision on his part or a subconscious act to either attempt to hide the monster within or perhaps as a result of his own traumas. I think it’s the monster attempting to hide.
Did you ever have the opportunity to spend time with him in person? Did you notice that behavior as well? One thing working in a jail or prison setting does is give the cop a very good education in human behavior.  You spend hours each day watching people and how they interact with the world around them. I’ve read through some of the blog, some of his claims that he is working to be a better person, to basically chain the monster inside. My opinion, for all that it is worth (which isn’t much) is, since no one can visually witness him curling in on himself to hide the monster, he is now doing it with words. That monster will never be caged and will always seek an opportunity to victimize. It’s just a longer game for him now. I don’t believe he can ever be habilitated enough to be trusted around anyone he could possibly victimize. Given the slightest opportunity he will pounce and the words he is sharing now are working to groom and create that opportunity. Maybe I am biased and my armchair psychology certainly is irrelevant overall.
At the end of the day, I’m glad you put the whole story out there. It was a brave thing for you to do. I don’t believe I would have had the intestinal fortitude to walk the same path with him and deal with everything that comes with following this and continuing a relationship with him for so many years.
Thank you again for the book.
-Name withheld upon request
Dec. 4, 2018 10:21 p.m.

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Reader: Even as meek as he tried to make himself appear, your skin would still crawl.

I remember Brent Brents. Vividly. No, I’m not one of his victims but I am one of the deputies, now former, who worked in a jail where he was held… I bought your book, a first edition, shortly after it’s release. I was profoundly impacted by Brent during the time he was in custody. He was not a large man but had a very unique presence and one that would raise the hairs on your neck. I would say I’m fairly adept at recognizing danger and comfortable defending myself, if necessary. I also had several inches on him as I stand about 5’10” and I believe he was about 5’7”, if I remember correctly. He was housed in a maximum security unit and was allowed out one hour each day to shower, exercise, or watch tv, by himself.

Even as meek as he tried to make himself appear, your skin would still crawl. There was something fundamentally broken inside of him and that intuition we all have that makes you recognize a dangerous situation would fire off regularly, even when he was locked behind a 2 inch thick metal door. Even other inmates, in maximum security, were bothered by him.

Incidentally, he was right about one thing, the other inmates did want to kill him. We had a few really bad guys in that unit during that time. There is a hierarchy in jail, as I am sure you are aware. Child molesters are on the bottom of that with rapists being one step above. Since Brents was both, and notorious, you could say his reception was not exactly warm.

-Name withheld by request

November 14, 2018

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Reader: i just watched your ted talk Have you ever met a Monster. I am a survivor of sexual assault

Comment: I do not know if you would read this but i just watched your ted talk Have you ever meet a Monster. I am a survivor of sexual assault (a word I have just been able to say).I became a survivor of course while dorming at college 5 years ago and then person who assaulted me was not a bad person at all. If anything i always blamed myself and felt bad for him even though i shouldn’t.

This has and still causes me many problems due to a sense of guilt and pity. I wanted to message you because that ted talk was so important. It was important to me to hear and important to everyone to hear. Thank you so much for sharing not only Margot story but also Brent.

-Anna

October 23, 2018

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Reader: I wish I could have saved Brent Brents when he was a little boy

Comment: Dear Amy,
I just watched the Ted Talks video about Brent Brents. I’m in tears for that little boy. My heart is broken for him. I’m sitting here, feeling like I want to do something, but I’m not sure what. If there is anything I can do, anywhere I can volunteer, any way to let Brent Brents know that people care about him, please let me know. If I could save ALL children from any and all abuse, I would. I wish I could have saved Brent Brents when he was a little boy. It just breaks my heart. Thank you, Amy, for shedding light on this, and for your work. But, really, if there’s away to not forget Brent, and to let him know he is cared about, please let me know.

Thank you.

Ciara Wetherell

Time: September 10, 2018 at 8:57 am
Contact Form URL: https://diaryofapredator.com/contact/

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Reader: I have met a predator…I lived with him

Comment: I haven’t read your book but I have met a predator…I lived with him. Your video struck me deeply. I know that stare and that feeling and I know how it feels to shake with fear and pull out something from deep inside yourself and still talk with compassion. It’s changed me on levels I haven’t been able to explain to anyone I know. It’s changed every friend dynamic I’ve ever had and now even in basic conversation I see new layers of communication. Thanks for sharing your story.

Time: September 6, 2018 at 12:42 pm
Contact Form URL: https://diaryofapredator.com/contact/

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Reader: You asked me previously to write about EMDR and here it is. It’s taken a while, but I wanted to get it right.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) was developed by American psychologist, Francine Shapiro after she made a chance observation one day while walking in the woods, that moving her eyes from side to side appeared to reduce the discomfort of disturbing thoughts and memories. She worked to research and develops the techniques over the 1990s and it is now a recognized psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing and traumatic life experiences.

The theory is, that our brains process memories we experience during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. When a person experiences a traumatic event or situation, the memory of it can sometimes fail to get processed by our brains effectively, causing them to experience the memory as if they are actually happening, instead of relating to it as a past experience. Such a response to trauma can often be identified by a particularly vivid or detailed memory of a situation such as the precise pattern of a carpet, a smell, a taste, an image etc. These can easily and repeatedly trigger thoughts of the experience as if it was really happening to the extent that the person’s life and identify becomes defined by that memory or group of memories…

EMDR now has a strong international evidence base. One particularly remarkable study found that 100% of people who’d encountered a single traumatic experience where no longer diagnosed of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following 6×50 minute sessions of EMDR and 77% of people who encountered multiple traumatic events were PTSD free in 12 sessions. EMDR is recognised by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organisation and the Department of Defense as an effective treatment of trauma related mental health conditions.

What I particularly liked about it and responded well to, was that there was very little talking involved (unlike cognitive, talking based therapies). I didn’t need to describe past experiences in detail, I didn’t need to worry about saying the right thing, or the wrong thing or missing something important out. There was nothing to work out. To someone with an excessively busy and ruminating mind, this was so refreshingly uncomplicated. I left the first session even, wondering whether anything had really happened at all. I wasn’t really accustomed to “gentle” therapy as being effective and was about to right it off when the “real work” began after the session and my brain kicked into action.

The treatment came in phases:
Phase 1 is a brief history taking. What’s currently not working and a very succinct account of memories that we wanted to concentrate on. There were four particular ones for me and we explored when and how they get triggered, and how it would be if these memories did not have such an impact on my life – I hadn’t thought that could even be possible. Those memories were not hard at all to identify; they regularly appeared in my mind and popped up immediately with minimal exploration, as real as if they were happening. In brief they were:
1. being overpowered and briefly suffocated as a child
2. a nun telling me I was disgusting and should be ashamed of myself & locking me in a cupboard
3. rape
4. abortion
The common theme with these memories appeared to be entrapment and shame. I was surprised to discover that although I came to no physical harm at the hands of the nun; the encounter with her was the most impactful, being related to my identity. This throws the old saying that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” completely out of the water.

Phase 2 related to finding ways to cope when things got shakey. And they did get shakey. The job of R, the therapist was to produce rapid change in my brain and my job was to ensure my brain could cope with that rapid change, and commit to asking for help if I needed it. Fortunately, I had the support of R and several other people who knew I was undergoing this therapy, who I could call upon when I didn’t know which way was up. I was also taught grounding and de-escalation techniques and advised not to meditate or indulge in overthinking as this may make the experience too overwhelming. Instead I exercised, I wrote and had acupuncture as an added method of releasing tension and stress (the latter was helpful but not necessary).

Phases 3 -6 targeted on the specific memories. Starting from the earliest, I was invited to get present to the experience through a chosen visual image relating to the memory. The pattern on a pair of trousers, the carpet I was on, the contorted face of the nun etc.. Again this was not hard for my brain to imagine, these memories being so close to the surface of my thinking experience.

Once my mind was occupied with the memory… I was asked what showed up, just to notice what happened, whatever it was. Sometimes it would be a smell, sometimes a visual image, sometimes a word popped into my head, a texture, a feeling… often, a well of emotion would accompany what I recalled. Tears would flow down my cheeks. Sometimes, I panicked and R would bring me “back into the room” by asking me to feel my feet or the chair I was sitting on. She ensured I knew I was safe, despite not feeling it at times… She was wonderful.

Once I’d described what I noticed, often in one short phrase or a sentence… R would move her upright index finger towards the right and left in front of my face, a bit like a pendulum, it felt slightly hypnotic. My eyes would accompany her finger rapidly looking to the right and left for around 2-3 minutes. She sometimes used another technique, which was a small buzzer in each of my hands which would alternate buzzing from my right to left hand. My eyes would often follow suit. This was the gentler of the two techniques by far and was used to “open out” and explore the memory more, when it got too emotionally intense. I was often amazed at what showed up.

During the therapy sessions, I was also asked to describe the experience through my identity or belief about my identity. R would often ask “and what are you telling yourself” and I’d answer such things as: “I’m powerless” and “I should be ashamed of myself (but why?)” and “I’m disgusting, she must be right, she’s an adult” and “I can’t get clean, I want to be clean”. Throughout the course of the therapy, over several weeks, these beliefs gradually changed. I found myself saying instead “I chose to submit to stay safe”, “I have nothing to be ashamed of” and “I am clean” and “I don’t have to agree with the opinion of others”.

Although many of the sessions themselves were powerful, the real work happened outside of the sessions. I’d return home, completely shattered and wanting to sleep, remaining disorientated for a few days afterwards. Often, I didn’t have a clue what was going on and leaving the house to meet others was out of the question. At one point my anxiety escalated but I remembered that I’d taken on the responsibility to ask for help when I needed it. It also took trusting myself in what I needed. I committed to taking care of myself through the process.

The final phase of the therapy, after around 10 weeks, was to revisit the earlier memories to see how I now responded to the memories, and if there was anything else to explore.

Since the therapy, I’ve learned:

• That I needed psychological help. I’m grateful that I had access to that help. No amount of transformation workshops, brooding or journaling or meditation was going to process those traumatic memories. My brain, in response to emotionally painful memories, took on a strategy to keep myself safe: it told me to submit, pretend to be weak, stay quiet, ignore my needs, that to experience love & intimacy I must endure physical pain, not to disagree or say no or rock the boat and it kept repeating those strategies, often to my detriment.

• That I’m emotionally strong. It took nearly everything I had to get through it. The process during the sessions was straightforward, complex and gentle. The processing at home most certainly wasn’t. In order to get through it I had to surrender control of my beliefs, expectations and world view; that’s that hard part. The belief that I’m strong has gradually grown as I’ve taken on running again and am training to 10k and half marathon level. I’m not fast yet, by I keep going and I do not stop. I’m also working with a trainer so that I can do chin ups, something I’ve never been able to do. Last week I amazed myself by walking my hands across parallel bars. My mentor is a 10 year old boy called George who of course, launches himself at the monkey bars with ease and laughs while he does chin ups. I love the cheeky little shit.

• That I don’t have to know how something works in order for it to be effective.

• That I get to choose which story I believe. If it doesn’t involve self-compassion, it doesn’t work. Another mentor is Maya Angelou (“Still I rise”).

The circumstances of my life were not my fault.
The experience of my life however, is certainly my responsibility.

Further information can be found about EMDR here:
http://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/

-Emily

7-2-2018

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Reader: How does one feel safe with a predator?

Comment: Hey Brent,
I’ve read your recent posts with interest. I have faith in you, Brent. Hang in there.

In particular I read: “I’m just tired of the hate, I hate bullies”. May I suggest that the change you seek starts with you. What would it take to hear yourself say “I love bullies” (who, after all is not worthy of love?). This is not the same as “It’s OK to bully”. I get you have a reputation. There are stories about you. People see you how they want to see you; most times they won’t even consider a conversation with you necessary before they make up their minds about you. It’s all opinion. So make who you say you are more powerful that who they say you are. This is a massive ask, yes. But you have time to master this. Of all things you are rich in, Brent, it’s time.

Rather than a “weak little sissy” I consider taking the hit to be a sign of immense, even biblical strength and I’m inspired that you’re considering it. How about making them laugh when they give you the “the evil eye”, like “Shit man, do I have something in my teeth or are you just constipated?” (you’re a quick witted guy, your Spot gets held up at gun point had me laughing out loud at work: “How the hell would I know what Spot is feeling, I’M NOT FUCKING SPOT!”), shock them by shouting so loud in their face then run… you know the drill. With respect, I reckon you’ve mastered the skills to make yourself unnoticeable given your childhood memoir. But every time you hit back, you reinforce their story that you’re a monster.

How does one feel safe with a predator? You love it and respect it. Works the same with the bullies. To Amy, to me and to others, you’re not a monster – we just don’t see you as one, so you don’t show up as one. Would it surprise you to know that I’d choose a conversation with you in a room with no windows than a gaggle of school mums (moms) any day of the week. They are the ones that terrify me and I’m working on that. You are loved and respected. Consider this a privilege worth sharing with these guys who’ve probably had similar past stories of violence that you’ve had.

It’ll be really important to them to hold onto their opinion that you’re a monster once their minds are made up. That you’ll always bite. Then they know what’s going on and people like to know what’s going on, even if it’s horrifying. But it’s not impossible to change the story: make it your choice about who you are, not theirs, don’t give them the option to hold onto a label that isn’t yours.

Oh dear, am I preaching? I’ll stop now: I hope you read the above as invitation rather than instruction. Who the hell am I to instruct? I had a realistic dream the other night of smashing the face of an ex-boyfriend, and it was really quite satisfying….

With love and respect to you and Amy,
E

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