I read your book and have followed the blog on and off over the years but not every post. In the book I noticed that one of the themes was that Brent “fell through the cracks” and that he never got the support for his own abuse.
My question is if he ever spoke about being locked up as a teen in a Youth program for violent and sexual offenders. C.A.T House. (Closed Adolescent Treatment Center)?
I do know that he was there for rape and that he was given every opportunity possible for some sort of rehabilitation and a chance to steer himself to a different life. The program at the time was the most successful program for youth offenders in the country.
I struggle with the idea that he had been totally cast aside because the truth is somewhat different from my perspective. Each individual is affected differently and someone wanting to change is critical but I do know he had the opportunity. I may have missed it in the book but was curious if this was something he spoke to you about?
I have thought about sending this on and off over the years because I am torn in the idea that it is important for people to understand but also in the idea that he does not deserve a platform to manipulate and seek further attention. I do know that we have to help change the culture and environment that creates predators/victimizer’s and most importantly victims.
I appreciate your diligence in bringing a story forward that nobody really wanted to know or hear but is important to be told. Not for Brent but for all of the victims and for all of those who were abused and never found a voice.
January 5, 2018
I will try to address your questions and concerns in order.
The first is that one of the themes of the book is that Brent “fell through the cracks.” While I do believe the facts of his case support that statement–that he was removed from an abusive home, and then returned–I don’t know that I would call it a theme. The themes of the book, in my opinion, are abandonment, generational patterns of abuse, the effects of both victimization and predatory behavior, and transformation that involves compassion and empathy.
Please do not misunderstand that I feel sorry for him. If you’re looking for clarity on how I feel about him and his case, you may want to read “The Story” on the website, in which I say in part:
“Where does the blame belong? It belongs to Brents, certainly, for his choices. And what of his parents, and their parents before them, who perpetuated the cycle of incest, domestic violence and child abuse?”
The book does not say, nor have I, that he never got support for his own abuse. He has said that he was given the chance for therapy and treatment–I do not recall him specifically mentioning the C.A.T. House, although I could ask him–and that by the time it was offered, he was not interested.
I do not believe that he was totally cast aside. I do believe him when he says that by the age of 9, his brain was broken, and that he chose to be a predator because it gave him a feeling of power, and that was more appealing than feeling like a victim.
I stay in touch with Brents, and post blogs from him, not to give him a platform to seek attention or be manipulative, but to show some of the causes of why he became predatory; that he is, indeed, human; and to illustrate his case, because so many elements of it are indicative of what’s wrong with our social justice system. I understand you object to the blog, and I appreciate you taking the time to tell me; however, please know that I will continue it.
I also appreciate the fact that you have obviously had some experience with this topic and cared enough to write. I now have a question for you: Would you object to my posting your letter on the website? I would not include your email address, of course. Let me know.
Last, I absolutely agree with you that we have to change the culture that creates predators and therefore, survivors.
Here’s to hoping for a brighter future.
January 5, 2018
I had a chance to talk to Brents today, and he does remember being in the C.A.T. House. And he remembers a Jason who was serving time there, too, and spoke well of him.
If that’s you, then he sends a greeting.
Also, please let me know if it’s OK with you if I post your letter.
January 12, 2018
I do not want to create any issues for any of his victims or for you or lastly Brent, so I will leave it to your judgement as to what is appropriate to post.
I was in the C.A.T House with Brent. I know that the program, truly gave him/myself and others the chance to be better people and to change. While I do not think we can ever make amends for the wrongs we have done, we can live a life that serves others as well as ourselves. Has accountability and promotes healing of our own damage and demons. That was a fundamental part of the program.
I do understand that some people were not in the place to change, did not want to change or perhaps were too broken to change. I can not say for anyone but myself. I just wondered why it was something he never mentioned as it was a large portion of time for him (2 plus years I believe of intensive daily 24-7 treatment)
I can say that I have seen both sides of Brent from the perspective of a child, it breaks my heart that he continued to create more victims and I am beyond angry at who he chose to become. I am grateful that he is in a place where he has less opportunity to cause harm to others.
That being said,
I also mourn for that young man who never lived a different life, he had hopes and dreams and at least then… I honestly believe that he wanted to be different than the person he became. I understand a minuscule amount of that abuse he suffered and I appreciate him being open about it. My hope is that it will help to stop those who abuse children and those who will become abusers. I hope that Brent finds some peace and can make what remains of his life valuable to himself and those that he involves himself with. He still has a choice how he faces each day. I do think he can still use his life for the better, perhaps if he is being true this forum is just that.
I am going to read your book again tonight for some additional clarity. I watched your T.E.D talk and I applaud you for continuing to wade into a subject that most people who have not experienced have little interest in talking about as it is not shiny and pretty. More so for those who have experienced it and were/are to broken and ashamed to think they might deserve/need help before it is too late for themselves or someone else.
Thank you for the clarification and answers to my questions. In reading over them I think I could of been far more articulate and specific and have used less of a broad brush. I was mostly referencing my experience with Brent in his teens but I was about as clear as mud. I apologize for not being clear, it was uncomfortable to write and I should of taken more time. I do not think you felt sorry for him. I appreciate the balance you were able to find. Much like the Staff at the C.A.T house, my perspective is that while condemning the acts and behavior, you were able to set that aside to see the larger picture and why it is important to share and attempt to educate. But also to see a young boy who before becoming a predator was preyed upon.
January 13, 2018
Reader: I have come to the place, that while painful, my rape still provides me with possibility.
Hello again, I hope that today is a good day for you, with new possibilities for the coming year. Your book, that I read several months ago still resonates powerfully with me and was instrumental in finding peace and empowerment. On reflection of your words, it occurred to me to say that from my experience, the full impact of the rape/abuses I experienced are not the sole responsibility of the abusers/rapist(s).
The acts themselves were painful, yes. The ones that happened repeatedly, I got used to and developed a way of removing mind from the place I was in. But the physical injuries healed within a week. The real impact by far, what really stuck, was the shame I felt for many years. I was to blame. I should never have found myself in that position. Why couldn’t I have prevented it? While I didn’t provide consent for being raped (being blind drunk), neither did I fight for all I was worth while I was violently violated by two men I’d just met. I spent years ruminating on the moments like when the taller one said “Where do you think you’re going?” before I found myself on the bed. Why hadn’t I shouted or kicked him in the balls then?…
I took on the blame and shame from other people’s reactions (notably women, I observed) and while they were never identified or convicted, I imposed my own life sentence on myself. Letting yourself off the hook, or denying your part is one thing Brent, and I acknowledge your courage in taking on the responsibility for your role and suggest that you may be taking on more than is yours.
I read with interest, your view that “rape is worse than murder.” I have come to the place, that while painful, my rape still provides me with possibility. The story I tell about my experience is mine to tell, and I no longer feel that it ruined my life. It’s brought a new level of relatedness to others, to women, to men, to children, to you. If I were to meet those men again, I have realised just this second, as I’m writing these words, that I would thank them. If they’d murdered me, I wouldn’t be able to do that would I? If I’d succeeded in murdering myself , as I had considered and prepared for, I wouldn’t be in this place now. Today, I’m grateful, awake to being alive and I believe in that possibility for everyone, without exception.
I ‘ve recently watched a film called “The Work” which documents an extraordinary programme which takes place at Folsom State Prison. Run by the Inside Circle Foundation. The men who participated having experienced traumatic, chaotic, abusive pasts come to tell of their experiences and with great courage and vulnerability proceed to breakthrough.
I was deeply moved and my mind came to you, as I was watching. I asked myself, what would it be like if this was available for you. You may already be aware of this programme and foundation. If not, you may want to take a look…
With love and respect to you (both), Emily
January 11, 2018
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